Apollo is an incredibly beautiful and unique butterfly. In general, in its external characteristics, it does not differ much from other species of the Lepidoptera order. The insect differs only in its unique color. In general, butterflies are very unusual animals. Many children are very fond of catching them for fun, but it should be remembered that this can be a threat to her life. A person can easily accidentally damage the wings of an insect, which will subsequently lead to the inability to fly.
Species origin and description
Apollo itself is a very unusual name for a butterfly. It is not difficult to guess that the species name was given to her in honor of the Greek god, who was the son of Zeus and Leto, the brother of Artemis and personified beauty with light.
As noted earlier, Apollo does not differ much from Lepidoptera in size. The front wing has an average length of 37 to 40 millimeters. The span of both wings is usually between 75 and 80 millimeters. An adult caterpillar can reach a size of 5 centimeters to the stage of a cocoon.
Interesting fact: the male is smaller in size than the female. The female reaches 83 to 86 millimeters
This species is almost the most recognizable among butterflies in all of Europe. It is the largest of its kind.
Appearance and Features
Apollo is a butterfly with an unusual appearance and its own characteristics. In an insect, the wings are predominantly white. Sometimes they take on a soft creamy hue. Along the edges of the wings on the outside, you can see a wide strip on which there are white spots, which merge into a narrow strip closer to the body. By the number of these same spots, no more than 10, unless the Apollo has any deviations. 5 of them are black, which are located on the upper wings and 5 more red appear on the lower wings, which in turn have a rounded shape.
Apollo has a black club on its antennae, which is not uncommon for butterflies in general. The insect has smooth large eyes with small tubercles on which small bristles grow. The thorax and abdomen of Apollo are also covered with small silvery hairs. This species has pronounced sexual dimorphism. Females look much brighter and more spectacular when compared with males. Insects that have recently left their chrysalis have a yellowish coloration on their wings.
Apollo during the caterpillar stage is black with a number of white spots. Tufts of black villi are also located throughout the body. As an adult, she develops blue warts and two red-orange spots.
Where does Apollo live?
Such a unique butterfly can be found on the plains of Europe. She often chooses edges and large clearings in forest types such as pine, pine-oak and deciduous as her habitat. These places should warm up well, since for Apollo the sun’s rays are a very important aspect in his life. On the territory of Europe, this species can also be found in Russia.
Despite the love of forest edges and clearings, Apollo prefers to settle in the mountains. There, the butterfly can be found in pine forests located near mountain rivers and streams. Sometimes this species can reach the loaches. From time to time, Apollo can be found in subalpine meadows and flowering mountain slopes, but at an altitude of no more than 2500 meters above sea level.
If we talk about the habitats of this species, then it is necessary first of all to note the most densely populated geographical objects:
- Ukraine and others
In Russia, Apollo can be found in Smolensk, Moscow, Yaroslavl and several other regions.
What does Apollo eat?
The nutrition of a butterfly like Apollo is not much different from other representatives of similar winged insects. Their main diet is pollen, which they collect from various flowers while flying. Apollo prefers composite plants, that is, thistle, ragwort, cornflower, cornflower, oregano, buttwort, and various types of clover. In search of food, this species is able to fly a very long distance, namely about 5 kilometers per day.
Like all butterflies, the Apollo feeds on its spiral proboscis, which can penetrate deep into the core of the plant. With the help of it, insects can easily get nectar from the flower they like. During the break between meals, the spiral proboscis is in a collapsed state.
This species at the caterpillar stage is particularly voracious. After hatching from the egg, the animal begins to search for food. The caterpillar eats absolutely all the leaves of the plant it likes, and then immediately moves to the new one.
Character and Lifestyle Features
Apollo in its way of life is almost no different from other representatives of butterflies. The main peak of its activity falls on the daytime. In the evening, it descends into the grass to spend the night and hide from possible enemies.
During the day, butterflies slowly fly, covering short distances from object to object. When we use the word object, of course, we mean various flowering plants.
Females spend most of their lives in the grass. If they feel an approaching danger, then taking off sharply, they can fly over a distance of up to 100 meters without stopping. If a butterfly is caught unawares by natural enemies during its sleep, then it quickly rolls over on its back and spreads its wings, showing its red spots, thereby trying to scare off predators. She can also cross her legs along the underside of her wings. This helps her create a hissing sound that is almost inaudible to humans.
Social structure and reproduction
The Apollo breeding season is during the summer season. Females are ready to mate immediately after leaving the pupae, and males for 2-3 days. The male forms his sexual apparatus on the female after mating sfargis — a chitinous appendage that prevents her from mating with anyone else. Further, the female lays up to hundreds of white, rounded eggs, 1.5 mm in diameter, one at a time or in groups on different parts of the plant or next to it. They hatch into black caterpillars with tufts of long hair, painted with orange spots on the sides. They also bear blue-steel warts on each segment and a reddish osmetrium that sprays a repulsive odor when threatened.
On clear days, adult caterpillars actively feed on the leaves of various types of stonecrop – this is their food plant. Depending on the locality, caterpillars can also feed on prickly mountain grate. They do not stop eating until their outer shell becomes very dense and tight, then there is a molt, repeated 5 times before the next stage.
The caterpillar often gnaws through the stonecrop, it falls to the ground and is completely eaten already on the ground. This is where pupation takes place. This stage lasts about two weeks. The pupa reaches 18-24 mm in length and is at first light brown with translucent integuments and dark brown spiracles, and the very next day it darkens and becomes covered with a blue-powdery coating. This is the stage of immobility. After all this difficult journey, a beautiful Apollo butterfly is born from the chrysalis.
Apollo’s natural enemies
Apollo, like other butterflies, has a lot of natural enemies. Such representatives of the fauna as birds, wasps, praying mantises, frogs and dragonflies are considered especially dangerous for them. From time to time, several species of spiders, lizards, hedgehogs and rodents are also not averse to feasting on this butterfly. The main part of these same enemies can take Apollo by surprise at night during his rest or during the day, when the insect sat on a flowering plant.
Of course, we cannot forget about such an enemy as man. As we noted earlier, small children catch butterflies for fun. This can directly disrupt their livelihoods. Even after a person has released an insect from his net, it may simply not take off, as damage to vital organs could occur.
Population and species status
The Apollo butterfly population is going through hard times. This species is very vulnerable. Its numbers are rapidly declining every year. Previously, these beautiful Lepidoptera insects lived in many European countries, but at the moment they are few and far between.
Most populations can now be found in East Fennoxandia. Unfortunately, at the moment the species is on the verge of extinction and has become very rare for those places where earlier this beautiful butterfly could be found without much difficulty. The reason for this situation was frequent trampling, burning, plowing near settlements, where the Apollo butterfly usually lives and breeds. They are almost not prone to migration, so they died, having almost no chance of preserving the species that lives in the territory that they destroyed. Therefore, the more disturbing and interfering with the range of the butterfly, the more their number is reduced.
It is necessary to take measures that will help prevent such a sharp decline in the number of the Apollo butterfly. We will talk about security measures in the next section.
Protection of Apollo
Apollo has VU conservation status, which means that this species is currently at risk of becoming endangered. This status was given to the butterfly by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
This insect can also be seen in the Red Book of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland. Apollo is also present in the regional lists of animals endowed with a certain protective status. The butterfly can be seen in Tambov, Moscow, Smolensk and other regions.
The SPEC3 category is assigned to Apollo in the Red Book of European diurnal butterflies. It means that this species lives both on the territory of Europe and beyond its borders, however, the former is endangered.
In Russia and Poland, projects were carried out to restore the population of this species. In the end, they did not give a long-term result. First of all, we need to help these butterflies develop in the wild, namely to create clearings, stop deforestation, start planting various nectar-bearing plants.
Apollo is a butterfly that at the moment is rarely seen in the wild. It’s no secret that its population has begun to decline. This fact confirms the records we found in the Red Books of various countries and regions. Adults need to take care of the environment, and children should remember that such fun as catching butterflies with a net can lead to the extinction of the species.