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Apollo Butterfly - Parnassius apollo

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Lepidoptera - Family: Lycaenidae

Apollo Butterfly - Parnassius apollo

The Apollo, sometimes referred to as the Mountain Apollo, is a butterfly of alpine wildflower meadows and mountain slopes.

Key identification features of the Apollo are its white wings with slightly translucent edges; the five rectangular black eyespots on each forewing; and two bright red roundish eyespots on each hindwing. The hinding eyespots vary in size in butterflies from various locations, and after sunlight exposure they tend to fade to a dull orange.

The wingspan of these large and impressive butterflies is quite variable. Males have a wingspan ranging between 62 and 86mm whilethe wingspan of females is slightly larger at 65 to 95mm.

Distribution

Not breeding in Britain but recorded there as a very occasional vagrant, mainly in southern England, Apollo butterflies are found in mountainous parts of central and southern Europe, including France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the Balkan states. The Apollo's range also extends into parts of Asia.

Lifecycle

The main larval foodplants used by Apollo butterfly larvae are White Stonecrop Sedum album, but they are also reported to make use of various other mountain stonecrop and related species. Young Apollo larvae (caterpillars) are are velvety black, and as they grow they develop two rows of orange-red spots along their sides. The larvae pupate as winter approaches, and the adults emerge the following spring and early summer. Apollo butterflies can be seen on the wing from May to September.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Anne Horsfall.

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