Be part of our scientific team and #followapollo

Despite the fact that citizen science is a relatively new term, people have been participating and contributing to scientific research for years. The widespread availability of the Internet and the rapid development of smartphones made it easier to share and contribute information. Armed with phones that have built-in GPS receivers people can provide geo-location information about species or situations in real-time. Thus new networks and communities of interested citizen scientists are created each day to learn more about the world and how we can contribute to understanding it.

What exactly is citizen science?

Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge. Through citizen science, people can participate in many stages of the scientific process, from the design of the research question to data collection and volunteer mapping, data interpretation and analysis, and publication and dissemination of results.

Different organisations and projects have been using different ways to integrate citizen scientists into their project and scientific question. Butterflies are the most well-known species among insects that citizen science has been used on for some time. LIFE Apollo2020 is focused on the conservation of Parnassius apollo butterfly and it requires some citizen science involvement.

Your contribution is important

The LIFE Apollo2020 project is focused on the conservation of the Apollo butterfly and you can help to make this project a success! Parnassius apollo is an umbrella species. This means, that by protecting the Apollo butterfly and its habitats, whole ecosystems for other species are also protected. So the more we know about the presence of the Apollo butterfly and its larvae’s feeding plants, the more we can do to protect it, its habitats and many other species.

Different organisations and projects have been using different ways to integrate citizen scientists into their projects and scientific questions. Butterflies are the most well-known species among insects that citizen science has been used on for some time – no worry though! Even if you have never been involved in any citizen science activity, you can take part – have fun and learn something!

Join the iNaturalist project now

To collect all of your observations we chose to use iNaturalist. It’s easy to use and provides great possibilities to collect and share your observations.

One of the world’s most popular nature apps, iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over a million scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. 

iNaturalist
https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/about

All you have to do to join is register on iNaturalist, search for our project “LIFE Citizen Science for Parnassius apollo and join it and record your observations.

  1. Join iNaturalist
  2. Join our project ” LIFE Citizen Science for Parnassius apollo
  3. Record your observations of the Apollo butterfly or its larvaes feeding plants
  4. Contribute to the success of the project 🙂

What and where we are observing in iNaturalist

We aim to collect data about Parnassius apollo and its host plants in Czechia, Poland and Austria in the areas where it is reintroduced to nature within the LIFEApollo2020 project. Parnassius apollo is a typical mountain species, it usually occurs at relatively high altitudes (from 400 to 2300 m above sea level). So look out for it and its larvae’s feeding plants while hiking!

Both data about the incidence of adult individuals of the Apollo butterfly (imago) and about the locations of feeding plants for its larvae (the habitat is crucial for this stage of development) are collected!

Feeding plants for larvae:


The Citizen Science data collection process is being led in parallel with the observations done by entomologists (the Apollo butterfly) and by botanists (feeding plants). It is one of the multiple project actions and aims to engage the larger public in the monitoring measures for the conservation of Parnassius apollo.

#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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“Iiiihs” and “aaaahs” : team Austria educates the smallest

The project partners strongly believe that social inclusion in nature conservation and strengthening of social responsibility are key factors for sustaining the reintroduced population. For this reason, a number of workshops have been held at schools in Austria in recent months. If we can’t get the smallest explorers among us excited about the Apollo butterfly and its protection, then who can we?

Austrian conservation action coordinator Magdalena Meikl reports, what she has experienced in the schools, conducting the workshops with butterfly expert Otto Feldner:

Weißbach/Lofer

At the end of June, we visited the elementary school in Weißbach/Lofer. The school is a “Naturparkschule” and is located in the middle of the Weißbach nature park. Large butterfly stickers greeted us right at the school entrance. Accordingly, the 16 children of the 1st to 4th grade had already lot of knowledge about butterflies and insects in general. They could name many species, including very rare ones like Chazara briseis. The kids even wore butterfly pants and shorts. Many told us about the caterpillars they found on stinging nettles in the garden. Some children have even bred butterflies themselves, such as the little tortoiseshell or the peacock butterfly.

Otto showed the kids eggs and larvae in different stages from Parnassius apollo. The kids were of course very enthusiastic about that! We told them about the habitats that the Apollo butterfly needs, what is necessary to restore them, and about the project in general. Furthermore, they were asked to guess how many eggs an Apollo butterfly lays. Their guesses ranged from 1 to 20. They were amazed that the Red Apollo lays up to 100 eggs and that the caterpillars hibernate fully developed in their egg covers. In the end, they could touch some of the Apollo butterflies that Otto also brought with him which was the highlight of the whole workshop.

Next year we will meet again to create “Apollo gardens” together with the kids on the area of the school.

Maria Alm

On June 15th, we had a workshop about butterflies and the Red Apollo in the 2nd  grade of the elementary school in Maria Alm, Salzburg, Austria. Apollo-expert Otto Feldner was with us again. The children had already learned about butterflies in class and were able to tell us about many other native species in addition to P. apollo. Of course, they were very enthusiastic about the Apollo eggs, caterpillars and pupae that Otto had brought with him.

They learned about the specific habitats of P. apollo and what everyone can contribute to protect this beautiful and unique butterfly. In the end, we showed the kids the Apollo butterflies, which was of course the highlight of the whole workshop. The children also got butterfly seed bags as a little present and we hope that they will create many colorful flower meadows that will support butterfly biodiversity in Maria Alm.

Fusch/Großglocknerstraße

On the 23rd of May we conducted a school workshop about P. apollo and butterflies in the primary school in Fusch/Großglocknerstraße, Austria. 21 kids from the 1st and 2nd grades learned a lot about the flying beauties from our butterfly expert Otto Feldner.

The children already knew a lot about butterflies in general and could even distinguish between butterflies and moths. Otto brought some Apollo caterpillars and butterflies for the children to see and touch. That was the highlight for the children, even if the green excretions of the caterpillars caused quite a few “Iiiiiii”. At the end, the kids could play with puzzles and memories on different butterfly species. Each child also received a little bag with wildflower seeds to create an Apollo and butterfly paradise in the garden or on the balcony.

We will see each other again next spring because we will create “Gardens for Apollo” together with the children near the school. In addition, we might do an Apollo-excursion somewhere in the valley of Fusch.

We are looking forward to visit the school and would also like to thank the class teachers for their great interest and enthusiasm!

Interested in workshops at your school?

Contact our coordinator Magdalena Meikl (magdalena.meikl@wilderness-society.org)

#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!

An important birthday and why you should #followapollo

30 years of bringing green ideas to LIFE is the motto of the birthday of the LIFE program, which also co-finances our LIFE Apollo2020 project. In these thirty years, the program has co-funded no less than 5.500 projects . Thirty successful years in which LIFE has helped over 1.800 wild animal and plant species, including of course our Parnassius apollo. The entire LIFE Apollo2020 team is very proud to be part of the LIFE family since last year.

So today LIFE turns 30 and we wish you all the best for your birthday! Here’s to at least 30 more years of success, giving us all hope and inspiration for the future.

To celebrate this great day, we invite you to support our project, just as LIFE does:

Become a part of the LIFE family and #followapollo

In the coming weeks, months and yes, even years, we will not only share with you information about Parnassius apollo, its habitats and its relevance to our ecosystem but also show you how you can get active yourself and do your part to protect this beautiful butterfly and many more insects.

#followapollo means being active

Follow apollo means not only passively following but also being active! You only need your smartphone or tablet, open eyes and an attentive look and you are part of it. If you spot an Apollo butterfly, take a picture and upload it on iNaturalist in our project LIFE Citizen Science for Parnassius apollo.

And the best thing is, you can do it while hiking: The Apollo butterfly is a typical mountain species that prefers the meadows and pastures of the mountains of continental Europe. It usually occurs at altitudes from 400 to 2300 m above sea level. So put on your hiking boots and off you go!

Do you want to know more about Parnassius apollo, how to recognize it, which plants it needs or how big it grows? Then stay with us and #followapollo

#followapollo on social media

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