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Parnassius apollo.

Parnassius apollo.
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter Stoeckl (peter_stoeckl) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1738 W: 291 N: 4005] (11530)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-07-21
Categories: Insects
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC-H5
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/640 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): European Butterflies 7 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-08-04 2:20
Viewed: 5662
Points: 46
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Parnassius apollo.

Finally, the upperside.

Red Apollo, Roter Apollo, Apollofjäril, Niepylak apollo, Jasoň červenooký, Mariposa Apollo, Apollon.

Parnassius apollo (Linnaeus, 1758)

Subfamily: Parnassiinae
Family: Papilionidae

Wing span: 65 - 80 mm.

The glassy, shiny and transparent wings of the Red Apollo and other closely related Parnassinae look quite unique among all the other day active butterflies. Their scales are rough and large, and placed in some distance of each other, so the glassy surface of the skinny wings is shining through.

Upper and lower sides of wings are strikingly similar at most Parnassiinae that seem to be a rather primordial group of butterflies, by the way. With most other butterflies, evolution has encouraged a distinctively different appearance of uppersides and undersides of wings. In general, the undersides of wings that are shown at rest tend to show drab colours in order to camouflage the butterfly against its background, while the uppersides of wings tend to show off signalling colours - attractive to the opposite sex as well as warning in terms of mimicry - looking dangerous, or looking poisonous - to possible predators.

With P. apollo, evolution seems to have confirmed a most effective combination of camouflage - achieved by the transparency of wings - and of warning colours against appoaching predators: the red eye spots.

Something else with Apollo is quite unusual for day active butterflies: Its pupae are protected by silk woven cocoons same as the pupae of various moths.

The species is distributed from the mountains of the Hiberian peninsula through all European and various Asian mountain regions, from Turkey to Lake Baikal in Siberia in the east, to Southern Scandinavia and Finland in the north, preferring flowery meadows and mountain pastures. (To my friend Chris Jonko: The species is missing in the UK.)

Related species can be found all over the world. The caterpillar's favourite food plant is Stonecrop (Sedum album).

The Red Apollo, also known as the "great eye", is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. Since 1936, the Red Apollo is protected by law. By the Washington agreement for the protection of endangered species, the Red Apollo is protected worldwide - for good reasons: the Red Apollo is severely endangered or already extinct in most of its genuine places. In the German State of Baden-Württemberg, for instance, the number of locations to find the Red Apollo has reduced from 60 in the year 1900 to just a single one in 1988.

"In Finland Apollo was one of the first species of insects declared endangered. The Apollo population in Finland and Sweden decreased drastically during the 1950's. The reason for this is not known, but it is commonly thought to be because of a disease. In Sweden it is since restricted to areas that have limestone in the ground, suggesting that the decrease could hypothetically be related to acid rain."
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_%28butterfly%29

One thing is for sure: the Red Apollo is a most precious jewel among all the pretty butterflies of European mountain regions.

For more information on this species, its distribution and its way of living, please see

>>> Parnassius apollo I.

>>> Parnassius apollo II.

The location:

Langschlag forest, a gentle hilly region 900 meters above sealevel in northern Lower Austria. The Red Apollo was brought back to live there - thanks to a generous local gentleman's private initiative to breed the species, and release the butterflies into its carefully reconstructed natural habit:

>>> www.schmetterlingsparadies.at.

The camera:

SONY DSC-H5, 3072 x 2304 pixel, sRGB, 17mm macro zoom (equivalent 100mm at full size SLR), F/5, 1/640 sec., ISO-125, hand held, no flash. 21.07.2007, 14:31.


Photoshop Elements, slighty cropped, resized to web, resharpened, BG cleaned, levels slighty adjusted.


Tom Tolman, Richard Lewington: Die Tagfalter Europas und Nordwestafrikas, Stuttgart 1998.

C.Jonko: Butterflies and Moths of Europe: http://www.lepidoptera.pl/


Bundesamt für Naturschutz (Hrsg.): Rote Liste gefährdeter Tiere Deutschlands. Münster 1998



Schmetterlingsparadies Langschläger Wald. Der Landschaftspark im Waldviertel. www.schmetterlingsparadies.at

Thank you for looking.
Have a very good day.

vanderschelden, jmp, valy67, cicindela, Silke, anel, JoseMiguel, batu, Argus, scottevers7, Ken52, phlr, snowfalken, uleko, ramthakur, coasties, rousettus has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To snowfalken: long shadows ...peter_stoeckl 2 08-06 06:41
To snowfalken: favoritepeter_stoeckl 1 08-06 05:46
To cicindela: niepylak Apollopeter_stoeckl 2 08-06 01:45
To Silke: coffee table bookpeter_stoeckl 2 08-05 14:50
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Critiques [Translate]

Yes, Peter...
Very good image. Lovely POV and good light; well exposed.
Well done!

  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2007-08-04 2:30]

Good morning Peter,
Excellent pov to see the glassy wings of this really beautiful butterfly. Left wing let see glassy transparency and right wing let see glassy reflection. Sky as background gives an outstanding and natural isolation to the butterfly.
TFS and best regards,
José M.

Hello Peter !
Such a wonderful butterfly, and such a wonderful picture ! Everything is perfect : details, colors, composition, POV, BG... And the pose of the butterfly is splendid too, with the wings wide open. The blue color of the sky compliments the butterfly's colors very nicely. Well done !

Hello Peter!
As you can read I am back - alive and in one piece ;>
Bravo for this picture. It is not only a very nice photograph but also an artictic one. I like a lot POV and blue sky in the BG.
It is also nice to see that this rare species (in Polish: niepylak Apollo) still exists in your area.
By the way, did you know that specimens from Austria were used in Polish Sudety Mts. in reintroduction programme?
Best greetings from Lodz,

Buen ángulo de la toma con unos colores impresionantes y un fondo muy adecuado. Saludos Peter.

  • Great 
  • Silke Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 729 W: 98 N: 1707] (5458)
  • [2007-08-04 4:26]
  • [+]

I find myself asking: When are you going to publish a book? Peter this is another stunning image that would work well in a coffee table book about butterflies!
Superb colours, crisp details, perfect PoV and composition

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2007-08-04 5:20]

Lieber Peter,
Er hat sich also von allen Seiten gezeigt, der Rote Apoll. Er ist wirklich ein König und wird seinem göttlichen Namen gerecht. Wieder ein wunderschönes Bild.
Nächste Woche geh ich ins Wallis, vielleicht werde ich auch eine sehen?!
Liebe Grüsse

Hi Peter,
With this apolo series, you teach us, -at least me- to love and being interested even more in this particular specie.
I like so much their wing's transparencies, the subtle white and the vivid red of its spots.
It's very good the different POV's and poses you has post of it.
My compliments and thanks for share it.
Best regards,

  • Great 
  • batu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1079 W: 293 N: 4497] (16383)
  • [2007-08-04 7:32]

Guten Tag, Peter
... dito!
Schöne Grüße, Peter

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-08-04 8:57]

Hello Peter,
I can't get enough of your Apollo shots. Beautiful sharpness, lighting colour and composition aagainst the blue sky of this female.
Thanks and best wishes, Ivan

Hi Peter,
A great POV for this presentation. Nice soft light and a good exposure. The colors and detail are excellent. The blue sky backround is nice, and the trace of white clouds breaks that up perfectly. Looks great1

  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2007-08-04 11:31]

Hola Peter,
sublime pov,
magnífica captura,
perfecta macro...

  • Great 
  • Ken52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 636 W: 93 N: 1243] (4195)
  • [2007-08-04 14:50]

Hello Peter,
Your butterflies are outstanding. This is a magnificant POV to see the beautiful butterfly against a deep blue sky. The backligh has a very nice effect causing the wings to have a magical transluence. The details are excellent and the exposure perfect! I enjoyed seeing your photos!

Hi Peter,
This is unusal butterfly I have never seen one like this before. Nice sharp image you have captured the patterns and detail very well along with the colours.

Hello Peter,

I am happy and sad to look at this posting of yours. Happy because the picture is so beautiful and sad because I found that this species is so endangered and even extinct from so many places. Again, this species enchants me with its beautiful and bright colors and I wish I could encounter it when I go out photographing butterflies again. But I'm afraid this species died out in my country too. I can only enjoy it in your pictures. This time you show us the upper side and the butterfly in whole its beauty!


A great composition showing the Apollo against the blue sky! The butterfly was very well positioned lower towards the left corner. This allows for a larger space in front to give the butterfly some room to breath. The isolation from the surroundings couldn't be better. The blue sky is more than appropriate to do it.


The beauty of this butterfly comes from both the bright colors and the translucence of the wings. The red "eyes" are well shown in this picture. I like the color combination very much.


The great contrast between black, white and red help isolating the butterfly even further. By fine tunning contrast and sharpness you obtained excellent details.


The exposure is outstanding. I am especially impressed by the way you exposed the white wings without blowing the very bright reflections and without loosing details in the shadows. You captured this combination of translucence and reflections very well.


Focus is the most difficult task for me when it comes to photographing butterflies. A too shallow DOF will ruin even the best composition. It is not the case here. You focused accurately on the butterfly and the well controlled DOF caused no sharpness fall-off . The details are outstanding and the light coming from the side created long shadows making the textures stand out. This might be easily overlooked but it is crucial for getting these results. You did a very good job.

This is a great work of art with great artistic and technical value! I will choose it as a favorite, with your permission. Thanks for sharing!

With Friendly Regards,

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-08-06 7:53]

Hello Peter,
Aha, you've posted another beauty for us to enjoy! It really shows up the transparent wings against the sky and is sooo beautiful!
Brilliant capture from a low POV and showing excellent sharp details and lovely colours.
Very well done!
Many thanks and regards, Ulla

Hi Peter,
It was very kind of you to look at my butterfly picture and write your kind critique on it.
It has been quite some time since we exchanged views on each other's work.
The full view of the open wings of this Red Apollo is extremely beautiful. Your special knack for shooting butterflies against the sky comes out very powerfully in this splendid image.
Thanks for sharing it and warm regards.

Hello Peter.

Excellent picture, very good details and colors.

Jose Luis.

Greet Peter,

This butterfly is how poetry. Seeing him this great happiness. The sensitivity of colours be spell-bound. Nature creates miraculous creations, and it eats You so show pienie.
I thank. This is I saw the most beautiful butterfly of what.

Pozdrawiam - Roma

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2007-10-29 16:52]

a fantastic shot for a fantastic lepidopterus,i hope to see one as this one day....thanks for share,Luciano

Hello Peter

Love the colour of this wee beauty. You have clearly shown the transparency of this lovely wings with the blue of the sky showing through in places. The exposure on the white is expertly handled. Perfect composition and placement in the frame. Awesome camera work. :-)

Hi Peter,
your last post mainly excellent macro shots of butterflies. This is one of them. Excellent details and sharpness. Lighting, blue BG, composition great. thanks for sharing. best wishes

nice nice nice,
we loose this specie... in Romania.


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