Exploring the peaks and valleys: insights from the 2023 Apollo breeding season

Butterfly breeding farms typically aim to contribute to the conservation of endangered species, such as the Apollo butterfly. These farms often involve the careful cultivation of host plants, creating suitable habitats for the butterflies and implementing controlled breeding programs.

Four breeding farms are currently in operation as part of the LIFE Apollo2020 project. Two of them: in Poland (Jagniątków, Sudetes) and in Austria (Saalfelden, Alps) were already operational before the project started. The other two have been established as part of the project’s activities: the farm in Poland (Uniemyśl, Sudetes), and in Czechia (Barchov, Sudetes). As part of the project, it is also planned to run a second breeding farm in Czechia in the White Carpathians.

Breeding success in butterfly farms can be influenced by various factors, including environmental conditions. Cold weather in spring can pose a challenge to the breeding process, as it may affect the development of butterfly eggs, larvae, and pupae. Butterflies are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature is regulated by external conditions. Extreme cold can slow down their metabolic processes and developmental stages, leading to reduced breeding success. On the other hand, excessively high temperatures in the breeding season can lead to increased mortality.

In the new breeding tents, the location had to be tested and solutions relating to sunlight and thermals had to be adapted. However, even in breeding farms that have been in operation for many years, there are still situations that can come as a surprise. The climate is changing, and even in cooler mountainous regions, extremely high temperatures can occur. This past spring, however, surprised us in a different way in the Sudetes. It was rainy, cool, and there were few sunny days.

In some farms, we encountered unexpected problems related to egg and caterpillar mortality, as well as the transitional phase occurring between developmental stages and the mating process of butterflies. Certain issues were attributed to the weather conditions, particularly the excessively rainy and overcast conditions during spring and early summer. This was particularly evident in the breeding site of Uniemyśl in the Sudetes, where the phenology at all stages of the insects’ lives was delayed compared to other breeding farms.

Some of these problems, however, make us reflect on our breeding methods and will force us to make some modifications and adjustments to the breeders themselves as well as the breeding tents. Failures are a natural part of any process. They prompt us to make improvements and to create variants to deal with negative changes in external conditions. To mitigate the impact of weather, butterfly farms may implement measures such as providing sheltered environments, temperature control, and adjusting breeding schedules based on weather forecasts. Additionally, ongoing research and collaboration with experts in entomology and environmental science can contribute to better understanding and addressing the challenges faced by butterfly breeding programs.

To enhance our understanding of the breeding process and the breeding materials used, population genetic studies are conducted on the deceased specimens collected from breeding activities in Poland. Furthermore, investigations are carried out to assess the presence of diseases and parasites. Both low genetic diversity and disease factors can be the cause of a decline in breeding performance, and we need to clarify and find solutions to these issues as well. The presence of several breeders in different parts of Europe allows us to collect a lot of data on what can go wrong while securing breeding material and the possibility of exchange between breeders.

Thanks to our collaboration with breeders, last year we successfully released a total of 1240 individuals at reintroduction sites across 11 different locations in the Polish and Czech regions of the Sudetes and the Austrian Alps.

Author: Anna Bator-Kocoł

Happy Winter Holidays!

As snow covers the landscape, marking the end of the Apollo butterfly season, our project team wrapped up the outdoor activities with a final round of debushing in various regions. As we transitioned from the field to the office, we were immersed in the task of analysing and summing up monitoring data from our breeding farms and habitat monitoring.

Reflecting on the previous year, our international team is proud of not only the successful breeding and habitat preservation efforts, but also the impactful educational activities held to promote awareness about the Parnassius apollo. During the peak seasons of Apollo butterfly activity, spring and summer, we organised a number of engaging events in Poland, Czechia, and Austria, such as the creation of Apollo gardens, school classes, workshops, or open days. These activities were intended to emphasise the importance of protecting nature and our mountain Apollo.

And what actually happens to Apollo during the winter? This butterfly employ a unique survival strategy. As adults, Apollos do not migrate or overwinter, preferring the warmth of the sun. Before dying in late summer or early autumn, Apollo butterflies place their eggs near caterpillar food plants. There, the eggs patiently endure the cold and even snow, waiting for warmer days to arrive and begin their incredible transformation from a small egg to a magnificent butterfly.

As we conclude this year, we extend warm holiday wishes to all, with gratitude for your support in our efforts to conserve these creatures. May the festive season bring you joy, peace, and the warmth of cherished moments. See you in 2024!

Partner Meeting in Austria

In June, the LIFE Apollo2020 project team gathered for a partner meeting, this time in Austria. The main goal of this event was visiting the habitats of the Apollo butterfly. In Austria, there are still some habitat sites where Parnassius apollo butterflies fly and its populations exist. 

Two entire days were spent for visiting the intact habitats, during which a few imagines were spotted. A lepidopterist (an expert specializes in studying butterflies) was present to guide the team around the sites. This meeting turned out to be very important since breeders from various countries came together to share their expertise.

Austria’s Apollo habitats provided an excellent example for the entire project team. For the success of the LIFE Apollo2020 project, it was very important to visit the sites bacause this allows a better and crucial understanding of functionality of existing habitats in other countries. Therefore, by observing where the Parnassius apollo likes to live, the selection of reintroduction sites will be much easier. 

The sites visited around Austria differ greatly and exhibit unique characteristics. Some are close to settlements, others close to train tracks and yet others are located on high mountains and steep rocks. The differences between the habitats are striking and incredibly interesting because they show that the Apollo is very well adaptable to many different environments as long as there is sun, stonecrops (Sedum sp.) for the caterpillars and nectarous plants for imagines. The project team was pleased to conduct this fruitful and interesting meeting while monitoring methods were discussed and exchanged between breeders and scientists. Acquired experience and knowledge will be used to improve the project.

Here are some photos of the various habitats and the magnificent Parnassius apollo itself.

New Breeding Farms Established

In recent months, a project breeding station has been built on the land of an organic farmer near the village of Blatnička in the foothills of the White Carpathians in the Czech Republic. The station was built by the project partner Bílé Karpaty Education and information centre and although some internal elements are still unfinished, it will serve as a home for the first few fertilised Apollo butterfly stations in the coming days. 

Another breeding farm was constructed in Uniemyśl, in the Stone Mountains in Poland by the project partner KP. The construction was finalised at the end of May, after the team had been using a portable breeding tent.

Breeding Farm for Plant Cultivation

So far, the interior of the breeding station has been used for the cultivation of the main food plant, which is the great stonecrop, as well as for the caterpillars of the Apollo butterfly. In the future it will possibly also be used for the cultivation of other food plants. Recently, we have also planted large stonecrop plants next to the breeding station itself, and we have sown two species of cornflowers adjacent to it, which will serve as nectarous plants for the adult butterflies. All plants (both food and nectarous plants) come from our own collections from the White Carpathians. In fact, some of the plants will be used to seed the case for planting at the project sites, and we make every effort to plant only genetically native plants in our project area.

Construction in progress

Breeding Farm in Poland

Breeding started in 2022 in a temporary portable tent. From the breeding farm in Karkonoski National Park we received 209 eggs, from which we eventually obtained 40 butterflies. We obtained 2866 eggs from our own breeding, from which we have about 1600 caterpillars in the current season. The permanent breeding tent was completed an the end of May. The structure of the building is wooden and refers to the body of the historic Field Station building. We moved the caterpillars to newly finished home. Soon the first pupae will appear, and later part of the tent will turn into an enclosure for butterflies.

In 2022, plant seedlings (mostly Cirsium genus) were obtained in the field. We have started establishing a base of nectariferous plants (host plants for imago) in the garden of the field station in Uniemyśl, as well as farming of Sedum maximum (host plant for caterpillars) in the Forestry Nursery of the Kamienna Góra Forest District in Krzeszów and in the garden of the Field Station in Uniemyśl. The resulting base will feed food plants to our breeding farm. The floor of the breeding tent is lined with humus. Inside and around the tent we will create a garden of nectar-producing plants and host plants for caterpillars.

Construction progress in Poland

Project Milestone

Since there is no water source near the breeding station, we use rainwater that falls on the roof of the breeding station for watering. The water is collected in a large 1000 l container. For the project’s progress, the breeding farms are very important. They are milestones that we have already reached. Now, the project has at least one breeding station in every country. 

Two Apollo Gardens built

Recently, an Apollo Garden was built in an Austrian secondary school. European Wilderness Society, one of the project partners, organised this activity and contributed to the construction itself. The school pupils were also very excited to join and help with the physical field work. Apollo gardens are part of our LIFE Apollo2020 project. They are special gardens containing food plants especially for the caterpillars, but also for the butterflies. 

Another garden was built recently by the lead partner KPN in Poland, in coordination with the project partner KP. In combination with that, KPN and KP also organised a lecture at the Nature Educational Centre to which local communities were invited. Some locals also stayed on for helping with the construction of the Apollo Garden and planting butterfly food plants. Some fun activities were also organised, like painting rocks and making seed cards. For that and for the Apollo Garden, a special mix of flowers was created by KPN and KP. In the course of the project, there will be built many more Apollo Gardens.

What is an Apollo Garden?

Apollo Gardens are an important element of the LIFE Apollo2020 project. They are specially created garden plots with food plants for the Parnassius apollo butterfly and caterpillar. Some of them will be built at schools but others are also going to be installed at other public spaces like national parks. In order to support the survival and recreation of Parnassius apollo, the gardens are built in suitable butterfly habitats or in the vicinity thereof. 

The most important plant for the apollo caterpillar is the sedum, which is of course also planted in the Apollo Garden. Sedum plants enjoy a rocky environment, so after planting them, we also added some rocks.

Building process

With the help of the active students, the Apollo Garden was quickly built – even in the scorching sun. We were quite satisfied with the work, and so were the students and the teacher as well as our external butterfly expert. 
In addition, to provide food for the butterflies we sowed some seeds for future Parnassius apollo (and other butterflies) to feed on.

Workshops conducted

Besides the Apollo Gardens, we also conducted some school workshops in Austria; the workshops focused on butterflies, including the Parnassius apollo. The students were very interested in learning about the important pollinators from our butterfly expert. They learned about the fascinating life cycle of the Parnassius apollo and how it transforms itself from egg to caterpillar to pupa to finally become the beautiful butterfly it is. Moreover, they discovered in which habitats and environments the apollo likes to live. To also create butterfly gardens at their homes, the students learned about the plants they should keep to make it more butterfly-friendly.

Project Team meeting and Monitoring visit in White Carpathian Mountain range

White Carpathians – white because of white limestone and Carpathians as they are part of the Carpathians mountain range – which stretches across central and Eastern Europe crossing Austria, Czechia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine. 

LIFE Apollo 2020 Monitor, team, and external guests met in the Czech part of White Carpathians. The visit took place between 11- 14 of April. A joint Monitoring visit and Project Team meeting were hosted by VIS (Vzdělávací a informační středisko Bílé Karpaty) – one of two Czech organizations implementing the LIFE Apollo 2020 project. By reading this post, you will find out what we were doing in White Carpathians and why it was important to us and the protection of Parnassius apollo.

Not everything can happen on Zoom: visits in the field and in-person discussions

This in-person meeting was crucial to see the effects of our actions, raise questions, and discuss different solutions. It was valuable, to gather the international project team and host the project Monitor. Visiting together project sites- this time in White Carpathians, induced important discussions. Visits in the field allow conservation projects to discuss things which do not come up in the conference room. The conference room, allowed the team to summarise ideas, which emerged thanks to the field visits.

Czech and Slovakian sites in White Carpathians- visited

We have visited all together many sites together in the Czech White Carpathians where the project is implemented. We were accompanied by different experts on the Parnassius apollo species during these visits. Thanks to that it was assured that selected sites in White Carpathians (both on the Czech and Slovak sides) are suitable for the species and that the planned management measures can create conditions for the species to live. Strengthening of cooperation with Slovak partners is important not only in the context of obtaining individuals for the breeding farm od Apollo in White Carpathians but also to share knowledge on how to best take care of the species. We were happy to visit and learn in detail about Slovak Apollo butterfly sites, by zoologist Dušan Šácha from the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic.

Common monitoring practice before Apollo Season 2023

For the past months, we were working intensively on creating a Monitoring Protocol to monitor the situation of the species and its habitat in the project sites and get ready for Apollo season 2023.  To monitor the situation of Parnassius apollo and the impact of our project, we need to monitor and analyse a lot of different parameters. In aim to do that we combine different methods. Choosing the right set of methods, defining terms and adapting the methodology to the specificity of the terrain in different project sites- is crucial. This is essential, but not always obvious even an international team and great experts. Adapting the methodology to the territorial needs requires effort and time. Meeting in person in White Carpathians and Monitoring practice which took place in the field allowed us to gather information on adjustments needed in Czech sites.

Rajhrad School great example of effective environmental education

We also had a chance to watch young people during their class and educational activities and curricula implemented by the school with which our partners cooperate- Rajhrad School.

It was a great experience to watch those young people very engaged in the topic. This class together with the teacher used multiple educational techniques in their environmental class. All these techniques had a common base: engaging students together with the teacher in discussion, role play etc. It was learning- by doing approach put into practice. Also, curriculums for other age groups have been demonstrated during the meeting. Engaging with emotions in learning is a very effective learning approach and fun!

More learning by doing, and citizen science actions

We have discussed, as well our communication and educational aims for this year 2023, looking at our past experiences. Stay tuned for more learning by doing.

You can become part of our project by joining citizen science actions for Apollo!

Have a look at our get involved section on the website and follow us on social media!

Be ready for the 2023 Apollo season!

References:

#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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Field activities carried out by all partners until March 2023

Monitoring actions

KPN & KP: Monitoring studies in 2022 covered 33 observation sites selected on three areas:

  • in the vicinity of Jelenia Góra, for the recognition of habitats in the vicinity of the place of reintroduction of Apollo’s butterfly on Chojnik sub-site,
  • in the vicinity of Uniemyśl Complex sub-site, for the identification of habitats in the vicinity of the Field Station of the Klub Przyrodników,
  • the Kaczawskie Mountains, due to the presence of closed quarries and other habitats that may be potential reintroduction sites for Apollo butterflies.

ČSOP: Monitoring of host plant Hylotelephium maximum in the CZ side of the Sudetes took place during the past year as well as monitoring of habitats in our subsite. In the near future, we need to focus on these activities which are also linked to the Citizen science campaign.

VIS: We have conducted habitat monitoring on a portion of the project sites to determine how many nectariferous and host plants are present on our project sites and to know how many host/nectariferous plants need to be seeded. While moving in the field during monitoring, we also collected seeds at appropriate times for later sowing.

EWS: Training of dogs has been completed and the first dog is certified. The first monitoring of caterpillars is planned in April 2023 in Milders, Karteis, Lofer and Virgen.

Active Conservation

KPN: We carried out sheep grazing on an area of 9,8 ha of meadows around Chonik Mt. to improve the condition of habitats. We organized an International Shepherd Dog Competition in Karkonosze. This event is a tourist attraction and a great opportunity to promote grazing as a method of nature protection, maintenance of traditional professions (i.e. shepherd) and protection of species, including butterflies closely related to habitats like xerothermic grasslands and Molinia meadows that are dependent on this traditional form of management. We have new permissions to include to our actions new meadows near Chojnik Mt. (5ha) and we plan shrubs removal from meadows in autumn 2023.

KP: We haven’t started any active conservation actions yet. They are planned for 2023. We have obtained the necessary consents to carry out the activities from the plot owners and we are in the procedure aimed at leasing key habitats for the species within the Uniemyśl sub-site. However, we have begun the process of making arrangements for conducting active conservation activities in the Kruczy Kamień reserve. 

ČSOP: Extensive debushing and deforestation on nearly 1 ha of the subsite has been done and has thus contributed to the restoration of the valuable forest-free habitat necessary for the successful reintroduction of Apollo. Monitoring of habitats has been done in the subsite as well as identification of the first stepping stones nearby. Support of the host plant population by seeding and sowing also took place; however, it is necessary to continue these activities, especially immediately after the opening of the vegetation stand.

VIS: Three sites were mowed by hand (or with the help of small machinery) and two of them were grazed by sheep. Three of the subsites were seeded with our main food plant Hylotelephium maximum at the end of 2022 and in January and February of 2023. 

EWS: The first restoration was undertaken in Lofer and Fieberbrunn in 2022 in June and September. The next habitat restoration is planned after the flight period starting in September 2023 in Milders, Hinterbichl, Virgen and Leisach. Sedum and feeding plants will be planted in May/June 2023 depending on weather in Murtal, Fieberbrunn, Lofer, and the new area Fließ, Tyrol. 

Our breeding farms and how they changed

KPN: The Karkonosze National Park obtained 60,518 eggs of Apollo for wintering 2021/2022 from our own breeding farm. After transferring part of the material for breeding at the Field Station of the Klub Przyrodników in Uniemyśl (209 eggs) and the breeding farm in Barchov (366 eggs), 59,943 eggs were allocated for breeding. 36,921 caterpillars hatched from them, which is 61.5% of the initial breeding material in 2022. The Karkonosze National Park has allocated 21,562 caterpillars for reintroduction, thus leaving 15,359 individuals for further breeding. In the KPN breeding farm, 1095 imago (7%) were obtained from 15,359 caterpillars, including 810 males and 285 females. We designated 51 males for reintroduction. 

KP: We started breeding in a temporary portable tent. From the breeding farm in KPN we received 209 eggs, from which we eventually obtained 40 butterflies. We obtained 2866 eggs from our own breeding, which are intended for further breeding in 2023. The blueprint of the target breeding tent was made and a contractor was selected and began work on its construction. We obtained plant seedlings in the field. We have started establishing a base of nectariferous plants (host plants for imago) in the garden of the field station in Uniemyśl, as well as farming of Sedum maximum (host plant for caterpillars) in the Forestry Nursery of the Kamienna Góra Forest District in Krzeszów.

ČSOP: The breeding facility and process was established within an already existing breeding farm of the most endangered Czech butterfly species in a private facility led by Miloš Andres.  

It differs from the breeding farm in KPN primarily by its size, the Czech one has a much smaller capacity – last year about 366 eggs from PL were brought in at the beginning of April and about 200 imagos have hatched.

In this breeding farm, up to thousands of individuals of different developmental stages of the Czech species of butterflies are bred; Apollo is bred in hundreds. This is the 1st ever legal breeding of Apollo in the Czech Republic. The infrastructure of the breeding facility resembles a classic 3m x 2,8m foil greenhouse, but it is covered with a scaffolding net – it protects against some external influences while remaining airy, the rainfall shade is provided by a plastic foil. The big difference is also that in the Czech breeding facility the mating is controlled – the breeder selects individuals individually for the breeding “in hand”.

VIS: The breeding station of our organization is in the construction phase. The greenhouse itself is already standing, but minor landscaping is still needed in its immediate surroundings. Also, the production of the netted part of the greenhouse and its equipment have to be arranged, which are tasks for the next month. However, we have already sown Hylotelephium maximum in the greenhouse and will shortly be sowing nectariferous plants for adult butterflies in the vicinity of the greenhouse (so far we have seeds of Centaurea jaccea agg. and Centaurea scabiosa).EWS: Specialist has been actively breeding 200 caterpillars. He is breeding the subspecies Glocknerius, Bartholomeus, Noricanus, Loferensis and Karteisjuvavus for the release. The improvements of the breeding farm will begin after the current breeding.

Other Infrastructure works

KPN: We have purchased the following equipment necessary for conservation activities:

  • a logistic support for KPN in the form of a 4×4 off-road vehicle,
  • drone for the preparation of documentation of natural habitats,
  • watering system garden in Centrum Informacyjne Karpacz,
  • wood milling machine to clearing/shrubs removal from meadows.

KP: We have obtained design documentation for the Apollo Ecocenter heating system in Uniemyśl, as well as a design for landscaping around the area station. We have also obtained a design for a breeding tent and its construction has begun. Some of the landscaping work has also begun.

VIS: Before the construction of our breeding station, we have secured the fencing of the land, which will be used not only for the breeding of Apollo butterflies but also for the cultivation of host plants and other purposes.

Since the breeding farm is located behind the village, we provided increased security not only by fencing but also by using two photo traps on poles with sending data to a mobile phone and email.

Ahoj z České republiky – Introducing team Czechia

The Czech part of the project is represented by two organisations, the Czech Union for Nature Conservation Hradec Králové and Education and Information Center of Bílé Karpaty Mountains.

Practical nature conservation

The Czech Union for Nature Conservation Hradec Králové is a member of the conservation group JARO. This group protects nature in modern and yet traditional ways and they are currently one of the most active citizens‘ associations for practical nature conservation. Every year, they provide treatment for more than 900 injured wild animals at the rescue station, and over half of them are returned to the wild. However, in order to give these animals a place to be released back, nature needs to be properly cared for. The group is an expert in superbiodiversity management.

One example of their expertise is that they mow the grass depending on the time of its flowering, suppress them and help to create space for forbs. They are also engaged in clearing out woody species and forest openings. They graze sheep, goats, donkeys, and water buffalos and also help with the return of wild horses from Exmoor and backcrossed aurochs to nature. They are restoring wetlands by using heavy equipment such as bulldozers, crawlers, walking excavators, and tractors. They have already built over 50 ponds and are also abolishing old drainage canals.  They operate in the Czech Republic, Austria, part of western Slovakia, and southern Poland to protect and support the most endangered fauna, flora, and habitats.

Education and Information

Education and Information Center Bílé Karpaty has strong experience in coordination of activities in the territory of the Bílé Karpaty Biosphere Reserve (including regular cooperation with stakeholders, best practice exchange, workshops), in the mediation of services aimed at the development of the region (South-East Moravia where the Biosphere Reserve is located).

The NGO supports the advice body for municipalities and local administrations when they asses projects. The center is in charge of gaining financial resources for the region’s development and coordinates activities for all nature conservation subjects in the region. The education center manages an information data bank supporting the development of the region and cooperates with international subjects. It also provides information for tourists and visitors of the Veselí n. Moravou Town. The center gives expert counseling in the environment and nature conservation area and ensures constant preparation of printed information, methodological materials, and education tools. Education activities for school children and teachers are often organized by the center to ensure an environmental education for the public. They also work as an advisory body for the preparation of projects regarding nature reserves in the region or their development. The Center is publishing periodical printed media and is a member of national and regional networks of environmental education centers.

Get to know the members of the Czech team

Marie Petrů
Project management
Roman Manak
Dissemination
Tomáš Ernest Vondřejc
Reintroduction
Tereza Macečková
Project management
Věra Hlubučková
Financial management
Miloš Andres
Breeding and conservation actions
David Číp
Breeding and conservation actions
Oto Petřík
Conservation actions
Petra Horáčková
Project administrative assistant

#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

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Monitoring, education and feeding plants – There’s plenty to do at the Education and Information Center White Carpathians

During the last month, Education and Information Center White Carpathians (VIS) was very busy. Read what they have been up for:

Cultivation of feeding plants

Their outdoor activities started with the collection of the very important feeding plants for the Apollo caterpillars, like Hylotelephium maximum.

Monitoring of habitats

Monitoring of habitats is another activity that is important because it can be done only during the summer. VIS took phytocoenological images from three different project sides. Phytocoenology is the part of the ecology that deals with the interrelationships of plant species living in plant communities.  The population of Apollo butterflies is highly dependent on the number of healthy habitats with enough amount of food in the area. The challenge is that some plants are easily affected by climate change and the last waves of heat can kill them in the first stages of growth.

The team also mapped an area with some rope and pegs to be able recognize the areas of habitat plants and track their amount.

Education and dissemination

One of the vital ideas of the LIFE Apollo2020 project is to educate people about Parnassius apollo. The project team of VIS is preparing the educational program and they have already defined the target groups for this program. Another part of the dissemination strategy is to present the Apollo2020 project in different professional environments. During the last month, the project was presented at the 26th International Congress of Entomology in Helsinki and at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences of the University of Helsinki. The project was enthusiastically welcomed by entomologists.

#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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