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Species: P. apollo
The Apollo or Mountain Apollo (Parnassius apollo), is a butterfly of the Papilionidae family. It is found on mountains in Europe usually above 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) up to 2,000 m (6,600 ft), preferring flowery meadows and mountain pastures. 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. 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. 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. The Apollo is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals, in Appendix II in CITES 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. The wings are shiny, with slightly transparent edges, 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. 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. Adult Apollo butterflies are seen on the wing in mid-summer, feeding on nectar produced by flowers. The females lay eggs, which over-winter and hatch in spring the following year. The resulting caterpillars feed on stonecrop (Sedum species) and houseleek (Sempervivum species). When the caterpillar is fully-grown it will pupate on the ground, forming a loose cocoon from which the adult butterfly emerges following metamorphosis.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.
La farfalla apollo (Parnassius apollo LINNAEUS, 1758) è una specie di farfalle della famiglia dei papilionidi diffusa nelle regioni montuose dell'Europa e dell'Asia centrale. Parnassius apollo è contraddistinta da una livrea bianca, e da ali punteggiate di piccole macchie nere nella zona anteriore e di due o più grandi macchie rosse, circolari e bordate di nero, alle estremità inferiori. Questa specie, prettamente montana, predilige i prati e le vallate fiorite delle montagne Europee, quali i massicci spagnoli, fennoscandinavi e dell'Europa centrale, i Balcani fino al nord della Grecia e le Alpi italo-francesi; è inoltre presente in alcune zone del centro Asia. Tipica delle alte quote, il suo areale va dai 400 ai 2000-2300 metri, sebbene sia di gran lunga più presente al di sopra dei 1000 metri.
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