Visit to Jagniątków and Barchov breeding facilities

Jagniatków breeding facility (PL)

At the breeding station in Jagniątków, reintroduction expert Grzegorz Hajnowski first introduced the breeding station itself, where several generations of Apollo butterfly have been bred over the past years, numbering many thousands of individuals. A large part of the reared butterflies or their caterpillars have been released into the wild, a smaller part is used to ensure breeding in the following years.

Grzegorz then focused on the details of the breeding itself, showing the attendees their know-how, advising what to watch out for and what to avoid. In particular, he focused on eggs and their preservation over the winter. At this important point in the breeding process, it is not necessary to take excessive care of the eggs – it is enough to secure them against possible predators and too high humidity (there is a risk of mould infestation). The boxes in which the petri dishes with eggs are stacked can be placed outdoors without any problems (simulation of overwintering eggs in nature). Only in case of severe frost or other extreme weather conditions, it is advisable to temporarily place the boxes in an unheated room (e.g. cellar).

Grzegorz then talked about the next steps in breeding. He stressed especially that the caterpillars are very voracious. This is linked to the need to provide enough food plants. In the conditions of the Jagniątków breeding facility it is mainly Hylotelephium maximum, and to a lesser extent other species of stonecrops. For adults, it is necessary to provide nectarivorous plants. In addition, in the breeding station, nectarivorous plants are sprayed with a saturated solution of vanillin sugar to increase the energy value.

Barchov breeding facility (CZ)

The participants then moved to the breeding facility in Barchov in the Czech Republic. Miloš Anders, who runs the station, has many years of experience with breeding a variety of (mostly endangered) butterfly species and has detailed knowledges of the life requirements and needs of both adults and caterpillars. He only started breeding Apollo butterfly in April this year, but even in this short time he has managed to successfully breed adults. The eggs laid by the reared females will be used to continue the breeding in future years.

Based on systematic observation, Miloš concluded that the best food plant is Hylotelephium maximum. This species was usually preferred by the caterpillars, even when they were offered another species of stonecrop. An important observation is that especially young caterpillars clearly prefer succulent young leaves from the tops of growing plants or young plants germinated from seeds.

During the year Miloš also faced higher mortality of caterpillars. Based on his observations, he concluded that the most likely cause was the high summer temperatures. The breeding station is located in the Polabí region, which is one of the hottest areas of the Czech Republic. He drew the attention of his colleagues from VIS, whose breeding station will be located in southern Moravia, which is very similar climatically. Discussions with others present indicated that the increased mortality may also be caused by toxic substances that form in stonecrop plants at high temperatures. A suitable measure may therefore be to grow nurse plants in partial shade rather than in direct sunlight (at least in summer).

Visit of Nature reserve & quarry in Czech Republic

#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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