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Overview

Brief Summary

The Apollo occurs in mountainous areas on steep, sunny slopes with sparse vegetation. In Europe, there are many different subspecies, forms and aberrations, because of the fragmented distribution and consequently, isolation of populations. However, their ecology is similar. The butterflies are found visiting thistles and other flowering plants. The female lays its eggs singly or in small groups on or near the foodplant Stonecrop (Sedum spp.). The eggs develop but the tiny caterpillar hibernates inside the eggshell or as newly hatched larva in its close vicinity. In spring it starts feeding on the buds of the foodplant. The caterpillars of later instars also eat the leaves. When it is time to pupate, the caterpillars look for a safe place between the stones, where they then spin a flimsy cocoon in which to change into a pupa. The Apollo has one generation a year. Habitats: alpine and subalpine grasslands (23%), dry calcareous grasslands and steppes (19%), inland cliffs and exposed rocks (11%), screes (9%), coniferous woodland (7%), broad-leaved deciduous forests (7%).

  • Ashton S, Gutiérrez D, Wilson RJ (2009) Effects of temperature and elevation on habitat use by a rare mountain butterfly: implications for species responses to climate change. Ecological Entomology 34: 437-446. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2008.01068.x
  • Deschamps-Cottin M, Roux M, Descimon H (1997) Larval foodplant efficiency and laying preferences in Parnassius apollo L. (Lepidoptera, Papilionidae). Comptes Rendus De L'Academie Des Sciences Serie III-Sciences De La Vie-Life Sciences 320: 399-406.
  • Fred MS, Brommer JE (2003) Influence of Habitat Quality and Patch Size on Occupancy and Persistence in two Populations of the Apollo Butterfly (Parnassius apollo). Journal of Insect Conservation 7: 85-98. doi: 10.1023/a:1025522603446
  • Fred MS, Brommer JE (2005) The decline and current distribution of Parnassius apollo (Linnaeus) in Finland; the role of Cd. Annales Zoologici Fennici 42: 69-79.
  • Fred MS, Brommer JE (2010) Olfaction and vision in host plant location by Parnassius apollo larvae: consequences for survival and dynamics. Animal Behaviour 79: 313-320. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.11.001
  • Fred MS, O’Hara RB, Brommer JE (2006) Consequences of the spatial configuration of resources for the distribution and dynamics of the endangered Parnassius apollo butterfly. Biological Conservation 130: 183-192. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2005.12.012
  • Geyer A, Dolek M (2001) Das Artenhilfsprogramm für den Apollofalter (Parnassius apollo) in Bayern. In: Schäffler B (Ed). Artenhilfsprogramme Beiträge zum Artenschutz 23. Bayerisches Landesamt für Umweltschutz, Augsburg: 301-317.
  • Nakonieczny M, Kedziorski A, Michalczyk K (2007) Apollo butterfly (Parnassius apollo L.) in Europe: its history, decline and perspectives of conservation. Functional Ecosystems and Communities 1: 56-79.
  • Todisco V, Gratton P, Cesaroni D, Sbordoni V (2010) Phylogeography of Parnassius apollo: hints on taxonomy and conservation of a vulnerable glacial butterfly invader. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 101: 169-183.
  • Witkowski Z, Adamski P, Kosior A, Plonka P (1997) Extinction and reintroduction of Parnassius apollo in the Pieniny National Park (Polish Carpathians). Biologia 52: 199-208.
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Description

The Apollo is a beautiful white butterfly, decorated with large black spots on the forewings and red eye-spots on the hindwings (4). These striking red eye-spots can vary in size and form depending on where the butterfly comes from, and the bright red colour often fades in the sun, causing the eye-spots of older individuals to appear more orange (5) (6). The wings are shiny, with slightly transparent edges (2), and some individuals are darker (melanistic); a general phenomenon common in many butterflies (6). The caterpillars are velvety black with orange-red spots along the sides (4). As well as being a great deal of individual variation in the appearance of the Apollo butterfly, a number of subspecies have also been described (7).
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Biology

Adult Apollo butterflies are seen on the wing in mid-summer (2), feeding on nectar produced by flowers (8). The females lay eggs, which over-winter and hatch in spring the following year (5) (6). The resulting caterpillars feed on stonecrop (Sedum species) and houseleek (Sempervivum species) (4). When the caterpillar is fully-grown it will pupate on the ground, forming a loose cocoon from which the adult butterfly emerges following metamorphosis (2).
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Distribution

Range

Found throughout Europe, including Fennoscandia, into central Asia (4).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The Apollo butterfly inhabits mountain meadows and pastures, up to 2,000 metres above sea level (2), where there are plenty of nectar-providing flowers. Apollo caterpillars require stonecrop (Sedum species) and houseleek plants (Sempervivum species) which grow on barren rocky outcrops or gravel. Research has shown that it is vital for this species that the rocky outcrops, (with stonecrops and houseleek plants), are situated in close proximity to meadows and other nectar-rich areas (8).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Parnassius apollo

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 12 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

TGAGCAGGAATAGTAGGAACTTCTTTA---AGATTATTAATTCGTACTGAATTAGGTAATCCTGGATCTTTAATTGGTGAT---GATCAAATTTATAATACTATTGTAACAGCTCATGCTTTTATTATAATTTTTTTCATAGTTATACCAATTATAATTGGAGGATTTGGAAATTGATTAGTCCCCTTAATA---CTAGGAGCCCCAGATATAGCTTTCCCCCGAATAAATAATATAAGATTTTGATTATTACCCCCCTCATTAACTTTATTAATTTCAAGAAGAATTGTCGAAAATGGAGCAGGAACTGGATGAACAGTTTACCCTCCTTTATCATCTAATATTGCCCATGGAGGTAGTTCAGTTGATTTA---GCTATTTTTTCTTTACATTTAGCAGGAATTTCATCTATTTTAGGAGCTATTAATTTTATTACAACTATTATTAATATACGAATTAATAATATATCATTTGATCAAATACCTTTATTTGTTTGAGCAGTAGGAATTACTGCTTTACTTTTATTATTATCTTTACCTGTTTTAGCTGGT---GCTATTACAATACTTTTAACAGATCGAAATCTTAATACCTCATTTTTTGATCCTGCAGGAGGTGGAGATCCTATTTTATATCAACATTTATTTTGATTTTTTGGTCACNNNNNAGTTTATATTTTAATTTTACCTGGTTTCGGAATAATTTCTCATATTATTTCACAAGAAAGTGGAAAAAAG---GAAACTTTTGGATGTTTAGGAATAATTTATGCTATAATAGCAATTGGTTTATTAGGATTTATTGTTTGAGCTCATCATATATTTACTGTAGGAATAGATATTGATACTCGAGCTTATTTTACTTCTGCAACTATAATTATTGCAGTACCAACAGGTATTAAAATTTTTAGTTGATTA---GCAACATTACATGGATCT---CAAATTAATTATAGACCATCTATTCTATGAAGATTAGGATTTGTTTTTTTATTTACAGTAGGAGGATTAACAGGAGTAATTTTAGCCAATTCTTCTATTGATGTAACATTACATGATACTTATTATGTTGTAGCTCATTTTCATTATGTT---TTATCTATAGGAGCTGTATTTGCAATTATAGGAGGATTTATTCATTGATATCCCTTATTTACAGGACTATCATTAAATAATTATTTATTAAAAATTCAATTTTTATCTATATTTATTGGAGTAAATTTAACTTTTTTCCCTCAACATTTTTTAGGTTTATCAGGTATACCTCGA---CGATATTCTGATTATCCTGATAATTTTACT---TCATGAAATATTATTTCCTCATTTGGTTCTTATATTTCTTTATTATCAATAATAATAATAATAATAATTATTTGAGAATCTATAATTAATCAACGTATAATT---TTATTTTCATTAAATATATCTCCCTCA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Parnassius apollo

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 212
Specimens with Barcodes: 262
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A1cde

Version
2.3

Year Assessed
1996
  • Needs updating

Assessor/s
Gimenez Dixon, M.

Reviewer/s

Contributor/s

History
  • 1994
    Rare
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Rare
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Rare
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Rare
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
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Threats

The beautiful Apollo butterfly has long been prized by collectors, who aim to possess as many of the variants as possible. While over-collecting is believed to have caused populations to decline in some areas, such as in Spain and Italy, habitat change is thought to be a far more significant threat to this species' survival (5). Plantations of conifers, the succession of suitable habitat to scrubland, agriculture, and urbanization have all reduced the habitat of the Apollo butterfly. Climate change and acid rain have also been implicated in this species decline in Fennoscandia. In addition, motor vehicles have been cited as a cause of Apollo butterfly mortalities; vehicles on a motorway system near Bozen in South Tyrol, Italy, are said to have nearly wiped out a race of the Apollo (5).
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Management

Conservation

Laws exist to protect the Apollo butterfly in many countries, and it is also listed on Appendix II on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which restricts trade in this species (3) (5). However, these laws focus on the protection of individuals, rather than their habitat, and so may do little to mitigate the greatest threat that populations face (5). Fortunately, there are a number of projects specifically working to save this Vulnerable insect. A conservation programme in Pieniny National Park saved a subspecies of the Apollo butterfly that had declined to just 20 individuals in the early 1990s, through a combination of captive breeding and habitat protection (9). In south-west Germany, conservationists are working with shepherds to ensure favourable conditions for the butterfly, which share their grassland habitat with sheep. For example, grazing periods have been shifted to avoid the Apollo butterfly larvae stage, which is vulnerable to being trampled (10). With the continuation of these tremendous efforts, there is hope for this beautiful butterfly.
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Wikipedia

Apollo (butterfly)

This article is about Parnassius apollo. For the other butterfly known as Apollo,, see Parnassius autocrator.

The Apollo or Mountain Apollo (Parnassius apollo), is a butterfly of the Papilionidae family.

Conservation[edit]

This species is of interest to entomologists due to the variety of subspecies, often only restricted to a specific valley in the Alps. The beautiful Apollo butterfly has long been prized by collectors, who aim to possess as many of the variants as possible. While over-collecting is believed to have caused populations to decline in some areas, such as in Spain and Italy, habitat change is thought to be a far more significant threat to this species’ survival.[1] Plantations of conifers, the succession of suitable habitat to scrubland, agriculture, and urbanization have all reduced the habitat of the Apollo butterfly. Climate change and acid rain have also been implicated in this species decline in Fennoscandia. In addition, motor vehicles have been cited as a cause of Apollo butterfly mortalities; vehicles on a motorway system near Bozen in South Tyrol, Italy, are said to have nearly wiped out a race of the Apollo.[1]

In Finland, the Apollo was one of the first species of insects declared endangered. The Apollo population in Finland and Sweden decreased drastically during the 1950s. The reason for this is not known, but it is commonly thought to be because of a disease. In Sweden, it is now restricted to areas that have limestone in the ground, suggesting that the decrease could hypothetically be related to acid rain.[2]

Laws exist to protect the Apollo butterfly in many countries. The Apollo is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals,[3] in Appendix II in CITES .[1][4] and is mentioned in annex IV of Habitats Directive. It is protected in other states: the Principality of Liechtenstein, Czech Republic (as critically threatened species in Czech code, Decree for implementation, No. 395/1992 Sb., and No. 175/2006 Sb.), Turkey and Poland.

However, these laws focus on the protection of individuals, rather than their habitat, and so may do little to mitigate the greatest threat that populations face.[1] Fortunately, there are a number of projects specifically working to save this Vulnerable insect. A conservation programme in Pieniny National Park saved a subspecies of the Apollo butterfly that had declined to just 20 individuals in the early 1990s, through a combination of captive breeding and habitat protection.[5] In south-west Germany, conservationists are working with shepherds to ensure favourable conditions for the butterfly, which share their grassland habitat with sheep. For example, grazing periods have been shifted to avoid the Apollo butterfly larvae stage, which is vulnerable to being trampled.[6]

The Apollo butterfly has many subspecies around the world, and some European subspecies are showing an alarming decline in numbers. This is mainly caused by habitat destruction, air pollution affecting the insect's food plants, and butterfly collectors. The Apollo butterfly is also more vulnerable to predators as it spends two years as a caterpillar.

Description and ecology[edit]

Larva

It is white with two red, black-edged "eye marks" on its wings. The Apollo butterfly (Parnassius apollo) is a beautiful white butterfly, decorated with large black "eye" spots on the forewings and red eye-spots on the hindwings.[7] These striking red eye-spots can vary in size and form depending on the location of the Apollo butterfly, and the bright red colour often fades in the sun, causing the eye-spots of older individuals to appear more orange.[1] The wings are shiny, with slightly transparent edges,[4] and some individuals are darker (melanistic); a general phenomenon common in many butterflies. The caterpillars of this species are velvety black with orange-red spots along the sides.[7] As well as being a great deal of individual variation in the appearance of the Apollo butterfly, a number of subspecies have also been described.[8]

Adult Apollo butterflies are seen on the wing in mid-summer,[4] feeding on nectar produced by flowers.[9] The females lay eggs, which over-winter and hatch in spring the following year.[1] The resulting caterpillars feed on stonecrop (Sedum species) and houseleek (Sempervivum species).[7] When the caterpillar is fully-grown it will pupate on the ground, forming a loose cocoon from which the adult butterfly emerges following metamorphosis.[4]

Related species can be found all over the world. The "Small Apollo" (Parnassius phoebus) is found in the high mountains while the Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) lives in the valleys. The Apollo caterpillar lives on larkspur and rock plants and is a velvety blue-black with small orange spots.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Habitat of Parnassius apollo. La Thuile, Italy at abt. 2700 a.s.l.

This typically mountain species prefers flowery meadows and pastures of the continental European mountains, in Spain, Scandinavia and Central Europe, in the Balkans up to northern Greece and in the Alps between Italy and France.[10]

It is also present in some areas of the central Asia. Typical of high altitudes, its range is from 400 metres (1,300 ft) up to 2,300 metres (7,500 ft), although it is far more present above 1,000 metres (3,300 ft).

This species requires specific climatic conditions (cold winter, sunny summer). It also requires wide open spaces (with a cover of shrubs less than 5%) and a large surface of lawns (at least 50%). The presence of the host plant for the caterpillars is critical.

Predation and defensive strategy[edit]

The Apollo butterfly shares a variety of defensive strategies with quite a few species of butterflies. Even from a young age larva exhibit camouflage by being entirely black. This solid color helps them avoid detection even at a close distance. However, as they mature, they lose this advantage by developing two rows of orange dots. These dots greatly decrease the amount of crypsis.[11] In addition to this larval camouflage, the larva also shares in a form of Müllerian mimicry with a type of millipede, glomeris guttata. Both insects share the characteristic orange spots and black body and a common habitat. The millipedes and caterpillars secrete a foul smelling odor to repel predators.[11]

Once the butterfly completes its metamorphosis, it has a number of defensive mechanisms in place to avoid predation. One of the most easily identifiable traits is the bright eyespots found on the wings. These eyespots are essentially concentric circle of a wide variety of colors. Apart from the wide range of colors, eyespots are very limited in their plasticity. There are three main hypothesis to why these spots may have developed; they resemble the eyes of an enemy of the predator in order to intimidate them, they draw the attention of the predator to less vital components of the butterfly’s body, or the spots are there simply to surprise the predator. The only disadvantage to these spots is that they cause the butterfly to be a great deal more conspicuous.[12]

Another form of defense is the taste of the butterfly. Similar to the monarch butterfly, the Apollo butterfly produces a repulsive taste to its predator. The butterfly seems to get this foul taste from its plant host, the sedum stenopetalum. There is a bitter tasting cyanoglucoside, sarmentonsin, which is found in both the butterfly and the plant. There is a much higher concentration of sarmentonsin found in the wings as opposed to the rest of the body.[13] The high concentration found in the wings indicates that the wings of the butterfly would taste much worse comparatively. A common predator, nesting water pipits, have evolved a strategy to avoid the poor taste of the butterfly. It has been observed that the bird will remove the wings before consuming the body.[14] In theory, this will get rid of the poor tasting elements of the butterfly, leaving only the nutritious body.

References[edit]

This article incorporates text from the ARKive fact-file "Apollo butterfly" under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and the GFDL.

  1. ^ a b c d e f Collins, N.M. and Morris, M.G. (1985) Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  2. ^ Lars-Åke Janzon (February 7, 2009). "Mer om apollofjäril" (in Swedish). Naturhistoriska riksmuseet. 
  3. ^ Gimenez Dixon (1996). "Parnassius apollo". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved May 11, 2006. 
  4. ^ a b c d Still, J. (1996) Butterflies and Moths of Britain and Europe. Harper Collins, London.
  5. ^ Witkowsky, Z., Budzik, J. and Kosior, A. (1992) Restoration of the Apollo butterfly in Pieniny National Park. Chrońmy Przyrodę Ojczystą, 1992: 3-4.
  6. ^ Dolek, M. and Geyer, A. (2002) Conserving biodiversity on calcareous grasslands in the Franconian Jura by grazing: a comprehensive approach. Biological Conservation, 104: 351-360.
  7. ^ a b c Carter, D. (2000) Butterflies and Moths. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  8. ^ Smart, P. (1975) The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Butterfly World. Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd, London.
  9. ^ Fred, M.S., O’Hara, R.B. and Brommer, J.E. (2006) Consequences of the spatial configuration of resources for the distribution and dynamics of the endangered Parnassius apollo butterfly. Biological Conservation, 130: 183-192.
  10. ^ Cesaroni, Donatella; Gratton, Paolo; Sbordoni, Valerio; Todisco, Valentina. "Phylogeography of Parnassius Apollo: Hints on Taxonomy and Conservation of a Vulnerable Glacial Butterfly Invader". Biological Journal 101: 178. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Descimon, H., and M. Deschamps-Cottin. "A Possible Case of Mimicry in the Caterpillar of Parnassius Apollo (L.) (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae)." Linneana Belgica 15.8 (1996): 309-10. Print.
  12. ^ Stevens, Martin. "The Role of Eyespots as Anti-predator Mechanisms, Principally Demonstrated in the Lepidoptera." Biological Reviews 80.04 (2005): 573.
  13. ^ Nishida, R., and M. Rothschild. "A Cyanoglucoside Stored by ASedum-feeding Apollo Butterfly,Parnassius Phoebus." Experientia 51.3 (1995): 267-69.
  14. ^ Hendricks, P. A. U. L."Avian predation of alpine butterflies." Journal of the Lepidopterists Society 40.2 (1986): 129.


  • Parnassius gallery, including many subspecies of Parnassius apollo
  • Xavier Mérit and Véronique Mérit: Les Parnassius de France, textes de Xavier Mérit-Véronique Mérit et Henri Descimon, cartes de répartition, planches, et photos en nature de Luc Manil, Xavier Mérit et Bernard Turlin, bibliographies, Bulletin des Lépidoptéristes parisiens, Volume 15 (2006), n°33 (numéro thématique), Paris, septembre 2006 (56 pages).
  • Pierre Capdeville, 1978–1980, Les races géographiques de Parnassius apollo, 191 p - 26 tables - maps - 24 plates in colours, Sciences Nat, Venette.
  • Jean-Claude Weiss : The Parnassiinae of the World, Pt. 4, 2005, Hillside Books, Canterbury. [1]
  • Edwin Möhn, 2005 Schmetterlinge der Erde, Butterflies of the world Part 23 Papilionidae XII. Parnassius apollo. Edited by Erich Bauer and Thomas Frankenbach Keltern : Goecke & Evers ; Canterbury : Hillside Books. ISBN 9783937783161
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