This butterfly, first named by the Swede Carl von Linn (Linnaeus) from specimens collected on the neighbouring spice islands, is one of the largest and most familiar of all New Guinea butterflies. A close relative, Queen Alexandra's birdwing (T. (O.) alexandrae), often considered to be the largest butterfly in the world, only occurs in one small area of eastern Papua New Guinea, and is the butterfly equivalent of the blue whale or tiger in terms of international conservation status and concern. The common birdwing is characteristic of forest margins. The huge caterpillars feed on Dutchman's-pipe vines.