How to #followapollo IRL (or not)

Have you ever seen red and white dots as hiking markers? The red-and-white dot has been a companion of mountaineers in Slovenia for almost 100 years. If you look closely at them, you can recognize the legendary dot of Apollo’s wings.

The inventor of this marking system was Alojz Knafelc. The Slovene cartographer and mountaineer got inspired by the Apollo butterfly and created the Slovene trail blaze. Originally, the paths in the mountains were marked only with stone mounds, which the guides placed in key places.

The first trail marked with a red and white dot in Slovenia was led in 1879 from Bohinj via Komarča to Triglav. The Knafelc blaze, introduced in 1922, is a white dot inside a red ring. The outer diameter should be between 8 to 10 cm (3.1 to 3.9 in), with the inner radius about half of the outer radius. If a mountaineer finds himself at a crossroad, on a rock, or does not know which direction is the right one, Knafl’c marking quickly saves him from torment.

#followapollo in East Tyrol

Each year in spring tourists come to the Defereggental valley to go on the panoramic path “Im Reich des Apollo” (“In the kingdom of Apollo”). The highest point here is 1,400 m a.s.l. the hamlet of Rajah. The road goes all the way along towards the forest on the sunny side of the Defereggen Valley, which is the perfect place to see some Apollo butterflies in their natural habitat.

The High Tauern National Park is home to hundreds of species of insects. The sunny meadows above the valley which alternate with wetter areas attract a range of various butterflies. The Apollo is found in parts of Southern Germany and the Alps, Central Europe, and the Balkans, as well as the Mediterranean and Scandinavia. Its range extends southwards to Turkey and eastwards to Central Asia.

When the Apollo is just in the name

Parnassius apollo is a popular and highly protected species in Europe. Still, some people get confused about his name. In western culture, the Apollo space mission is really popular. You can find songs and posters with famous Neil Armstrong’s quote “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Apollo Park which lies in the heart of Milson, Michigan State, is named exactly after the Apollo spaceship mission. It has a large playground with an enormous rocket, which children can climb in and on and be spun. Ironically, this park is also well-known as Butterfly Park. During a visit, visitors be able to spot Monarchs, Red and Yellow Admirals, NZ Coppers and Little Blies. No Apollo though…

Get to know more fun facts on the Apollo universe and read an article about the full history of Parnassius apollo’s name.

#followapollo and the efforts of our team! Combined skills in breeding, conservation of habitats, research, environmental education, and project management constitute a great combination for the success of our LIFE project

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Learn about breeding and reintroduction in Poland

Breeding and reintroduction of Parnassius apollo have quite a history in Poland. Learn about it in this posting and join our conference (19.09.2022) for free online to learn about the breeding in the LIFE Apollo2020 project. Our breeding experts from Poland, Czechia, and Austria will discuss the legal regulations, challenges, and benefits of breeding in a session from 10:15 – 10:45 CET on 19. September 2022. You will also be able to ask questions and discuss with them!

The Apollo butterfly became extinct in the project areas at the end of the 19th century. In the early 20th century attempts were made by German entomologists to reintroduce it in the Sudetes The introduced individuals were kept in natural conditions in the years 1917–1926. Another attempt to reintroduce the Apollo butterfly, carried out in the Kruczy Kamień Reserve (Poland), took place in the years 1994-1995 and was made by  Jerzy Budzik.  

The species stayed in this location for the next 11 seasons. In 2019, Karkonosze National Park (KPN) introduced 150 pairs of Apollo butterflies in the Kruczy Kamień Reserve and 300 caterpillars on Chojnik Mountain and the meadows surrounding it. Monitoring in 2020 in both locations showed the presence of a new generation of the Apollo butterfly, which has undergone all development stages in natural conditions. Monitoring has shown that the species is able to use convenient habitats but still requires assistance by the supply of captive-bred specimens. 

The LIFE Apollo2020 project has started

In 2020 the “wild” population was supplemented with specimens from breeding – 490 individuals were released into the natural habitats: 250 in Kruczy Kamień Reserve and 240 on the Chojnik Mountain. In 2021 Karkonosze National Park introduced 1916 caterpillars and 2529 butterflies and in 2022 released 19 562 caterpillars in 12 locations. 

The Breeding farm in Karkonosze National Park

The Parnassius apollo breeding farm in Karkonosze National Park has been operating since 2016 and is located in the Karkonosze Gene Bank in Jagniątków. The farm has specialized infrastructure with breeding tents for caterpillars and imago including equipment, an automated greenhouse, a controlled irrigation system, infrastructure for breeding host plants for caterpillars, and a garden with a collection of nectarous plants. The staff at the Karkonosze Gene Bank have experience in breeding Parnassius apollo, which made it possible to start the reintroduction of the Apollo butterfly to natural sites in 2019 – 2022. KPN’s employees developed a system and methodology for breeding Apollo, which will be used and made available for the creation of new farms within the project.

What do you need to breed butterflies?

Equipment consists mainly of terrariums and foldable tents where caterpillars and imagines are held until their release. Terrariums are closed with a permeable net, which limits the access of predators and parasitoids and are placed in a  breeding tent, which protects them from snow and heavy rainfall. When imago appear they are placed in tents with nectariferous plants to mate. Fertilized females are placed in cotton sleeves in which they lay eggs. Eggs are put into glass containers for winter. Breeding tents are used both at the stage of caterpillar development and imago reproduction.

Also, you can join online and attend sessions from our project leaders in Poland. They will share the best key practices and learning points from the Apollo reintroduction process.

Learn more about breeding online at our conference

During our International conference on butterfly conservation, “Science, ecology and innovation for Parnassius apollo conservation in Central Europe”, the breeding experts of the LIFE Apollo2020 project from Austria, Poland, and Czechia will present and discuss the breeding process, legal regulations and challenges of breeding. Join this panel on Monday, 19. September 20200 from 10:15 – 10:45 CET and ask your questions and share your experiences on breeding with our experts! The participation is free of charge.

Our breeding experts look forward to a fruitful exchange with you!

#followapollo and the efforts of our team! Combined skills in breeding, conservation of habitats, research, environmental education, and project management constitute a great combination for the success of our LIFE project

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive the latest news on butterfly conservation!

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