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Red Apollo, Roter Apollo, Apollofjäril, Isoapollo, Niepylak apollo, Jasoň červenooký, Gorski apolon, Червен аполон, Аполлон обыкновенный, Apollo kelebeği, Apolló-lepke, Apolo tximeleta, Mariposa Apollo, Apollon...
Parnassius apollo (Linnaeus, 1758)
Wing span: 65 - 80 mm.
Parnassius apollo is not a migratory species - one of the reasons why that species is so vulnerable and endangered. This butterfly tends to stay close to the place where it grew up. As a caterpillar, it requires a very specific dry and stony or rocky habitat where its feeding plant – Sedum album or Sedum telephium (stonecrop) – will grow in good numbers. As a butterfly, it will leave those barren grounds for rather short distances only to visit meadows with thistles (Cirsium sp.) that are much preferred as a rich source of nectar.
Both habitats have to be available within short distance. And both of those habitats have become severely endangered in most parts of Europe. Their rapid destruction by 20th century agriculture and forestry has made the Red Apollo disappear from many of its former regions of distribution in Europe. The destruction was done by "cleaning" barren grounds of debris, by fertilizing and overexploiting meadows, by forests spreading into once extensively used small patches of grasslands. During the 20th century, the Red Apollo disappeared from practically all of the Central European lowlands, also from many parts of Scandinavia except some of those areas located above limestone, leading to the assumption that acid rain may have been another reason for its sudden disappearance there.
In some Alpine valleys, however, with their steep, rocky slopes safely out of human reach, the Red Apollo still has found a good refuge where it may be met in good numbers, flying from May to August (sometimes even into late September, early October) in one extended generation at elevations between 600m and 2200m.
During daytime, Apollo butterflies would show some hilltopping behaviour, following specific routes when flying up into steep and inaccessible mountain areas. In the evening you should expect them to return to their sleeping places down below.
One of my favourite lonesome mountain paths in summer is leading high above the Oetztal valley. It is connecting the remote villages of Gries and Niederthai, crossing a very steep and rocky wooded slope at an elevation of 1500m near a cascade of waters plunging down from the rocks. In the early parts of the day, Red Apollo butterflies would be emerging there rising from the valley ground, have a short stop at some flowering thistles growing near the abyss of the cascades, and would continue their way upwards into inaccessibly rocky parts high above. The chance for watching the Red Apollo at this place called "Rastle" on a sunny day in July is very high. The chance to approach one of them for a good picture without stepping into the abyss is very low.
When I visited that place on a late sunny afternoon in July 2010, Red Apollos appeared there again just as predicted, coming down from their daytime meeting grounds high above the rocks, continuing their way down. I decided to follow them hoping to find their sleeping grounds. In the end, I luckily arrived at a little paradise. Apollos would gather there at a slope of loose debris covered with Sedum, starting to search a place for the night, and finally sitting down in the low vegetation nearby. Once seated, they were very patiently ready for portraits.
A more detailed view of the location is available > here.
The location shown is part of Naturpark Oetztal, a protected area proclaimed in 2006.
Other reports from that area may be seen here.
Christian Stettmer, Markus Bräu, Patrick Gros, Otmar Wanninger: Die Tagfalter Bayerns und Österreichs, Laufen/Salzach 2007
Tom Tolman, Richard Lewington: Collins Butterfly Guide, London 2008
Christopher Jonko: Butterflies and Moths of Europe. http://www.lepidoptera.pl/
SONY DSC-HX1, 3456 x 2592 pixels, sRGB, 15mm macro zoom (equivalent 84 mm at full size SLR), F/4, 1/200sec., ISO-125, bias: -0.3, hand held, fill flash. 08.07.2010, 18:12.
Postwork: Photoshop CS4, slightly cropped, levels adjusted, selectively resharpened after downsize to web.
Have a very good day.
|Altered Image #2|
|... made for the documentation of the setting, this windangle capture might give a slightly more detailed description of the location.|
The camera: SONY DSC-HX1, 3456 x 2592 pixels, sRGB, 5mm macro zoom (equivalent 28 mm at full size SLR), F/8, 1/100sec., ISO-125, bias: -1, hand held, fill flash. 08.07.2010, 18:19. Postwork: Photoshop CS4, cropped at the sides, levels adjusted, selectively resharpened after downsize to web.
|Altered Image #1|
Apollo's place for the night.
|Another view of Apollo's sleeping ground. In the back, a steep slope of loose debris with Sedum may be seen. That probably is Apollo's birth place. And there is also another divine celebrity to be seen here, a most lovable companion named "Pezi". He loves to come with us on even the longest mountain walks, being a very cooperative fellow whenever I decide to stop and take pictures. He would patiently sit down then and wait until the unpredictable behaviour of raising a black box with a tube in front of flowers and various creatures would come to an end.|
The camera: Lumix Leica DMC-FX66 14 megapixels pocket point and shoot with zoom setting at wideangle 4.5mm (equivalent 25mm at 24x36), F/2.8, 1/125 sec., ISO-160, 08.07.2010, 18:36.
Hope you enjoy.