The clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne), cousin of Parnassius apollo, is also threatened by habitat loss in Europe.
Once widespread across the state of Baden-Württemberg in Southern Germany, it is now only found in two valleys in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Swabian Jura. In one of these remaining strongholds, the Mühltal valley near Münsingen and Schelklingen, authorities closed district 7410 road between the two towns for a week of major habitat management.
The clouded Apollo exclusively lays its eggs on Corydalis plants, on which the hatched caterpillars feed. The Biosphere reserve has undertaken research and habitat management measures for Parnassius mnemosyne for 8 years. After research on potential habitat for the butterfly in the Mühltal, experts found that Corydalis was very common around the 7410.By cutting back the plants, they are hoping to create ideal conditions for the clouded Apollo along the busy stretch of road. Similar activities in nearby Springen have yielded great results, with just two butterflies growing to a population of 153 in a few years.
These activities will not only support clouded Apollo conservation. Species such as the southern white admiral and the pearl-bordered fritillary will also benefit from these measures. At the slight inconvenience of prolonging car travel for a week, several butterfly species will have an increased chance of survival in the area. If more local or national authorities made decisions that put species conservation first, we would save many more butterfly species.
Picture: Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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