Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Apollo, a lifespan of a few weeks only

The Apollo butterfly (Parnassius apollo) is a butterfly of the family Papilionidae. The wing varies in length between 3.4 and 4.0 cm. The rear wing is mostly rounded. The rear wings usually have two round red spots on the top and several at the bottom side. In addition, both the front and rear wings have dark spots. The caterpillars are about 5 cm long, black with short spiky hair and have
orange-red, sometimes yellow spots, lined up along both sides. The host plant of the caterpillars is White Stonecrop (Sedum album). The caterpillars can also be found on Houseleek and Sedum telephium, (the latter especially in Scandinavia). The flying time is from May to September. The life span is 2 to 3 weeks.

As a butterfly these animals visit not only the flowers of White Stonecrop, but they also have a preference, for the red and violet flowers of thistles (e.g. Carduus nutans) and Centaurea species such as Knapweed and Origanum vulgare. The butterfly likes to sit on flowers and stones, sunbathing. It overwinters as an egg. After mating, females are plugged so they cannot mate again.

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