Outdoor season in Austria has officially started!

The snow has started to melt in the Alps, which means that the outdoor work season for the Apollo butterfly in Austrian habitats could officially begin. With the great help of volunteers, the Austrian team (EWS) has started the crucial task of debushing in two Apollo habitats – Lofer, Salzburg, and Fieberbrunn, Tyrol.

With warm and sunny weather on our side, we focused on clearing away overgrown bushes and trees to uncover the rocky slopes beneath. These rocky slopes are vital for the survival of Apollo caterpillars, as they provide the perfect environment for the caterpillars to thrive. The exposed slopes are ideal for the growth of Sedum plants, which are the main food source for the caterpillars. Keeping these areas free of excessive bush growth is important to maintaining a suitable habitat for the caterpillars.

In addition to our debushing efforts, we planted various Sedum species (Sedum sexangulare and Sedum album) to ensure the caterpillars have plenty of food. This step is needed for helping the caterpillars grow into healthy pupae and eventually transform into imagines. To support the adult butterflies, we also sowed seeds of nectar-producing plants, ensuring that there will be nectar sources available when the butterflies emerge.

The highlight of the day was discovering numerous Apollo caterpillars within the habitat. In Lofer, Salzburg. We saw them actively crawling and feeding on the Sedum plants, which was an exciting confirmation that our conservation measures are already paying off.

During our work, we had the pleasure of meeting a group of children and their teacher. The kids were eager to learn about the Parnassius apollo butterflies, their feeding plants, and our conservation efforts. Their enthusiasm and curiosity has again assured us how important is to involve and educate also the younger generation about environmental conservation.

Looking ahead, we are excited for the rest of the spring and summer seasons. We will continue our efforts to maintain and improve the habitats, ensuring that the Apollo butterflies have a thriving environment.

The rescue mission for Apollo continues in Czechia

Last year, our Czech partner ČSOP Hradec Králové managed to light up (not only) over a hectare of densely overgrown rocky terrain for Parnassius apollo, which was covered with impenetrable trees and thickets up to 15 metres high. But our efforts did not end there! Thanks to long-term support from the Škoda Auto Foundation and a partnership with the KRNAP administration, this winter we have managed to open an area that is now two to three times larger than some of the sites where Apollo still survives in Slovakia or Poland.

The work is really extreme and dangerous, and in some places you literally have to do magic on a rope. Through the Krakonoš Gardens project, we have been able to purchase special equipment that allows us to safely reach even the most inaccessible places.

And that’s not all. So far we’ve only focused on one main location, but in the coming period we’ll start preparing a second home for the Butterfly King, which is nearby. We have also walked the surrounding area in detail, mapping the occurrence of both feeding and nectar plants, as well as the surrounding meadows and potential corridors that can serve as a network of stepping stones for the Apollo. These are the kind of microhabitats that help the butterfly king to cross the road when travelling to a new home or mate. It’s a bit like imagining the stones you use to hop from one side of a river to the other.

We’re looking forward to getting the place all smelling and buzzing. Last year, the restored rocky areas have already attracted various species of flowering plants and insects, which had not had enough space and light here before, including, for example, Hornet moth tied to the Spurges or Zygaena ephialtes, which was known on the Czech and Polish side of the Krkonoše Mountains from only one location, although it used to be common here in the past. And thanks to the new finds of rare butterflies last year, it is now indisputable that the activities aimed at the return of Parnassius apollo are helping several of the rarest butterfly species in the Krkonoše Mountains, such as the least and forest Small blue or the Silver-spotted skipper, to survive.

Apollo, as this massive mountain butterfly is also called after the god Apollo, is facing great difficulties today. Its numbers are declining rapidly across central Europe due to deteriorating conditions in its natural habitat, which are affected by both human activity and climate change. Even in the aforementioned sites in Poland and Slovakia, it is no longer thriving, mainly due to the abandonment of traditional farming practices, where excess and sprawling plants were regulated primarily by grazing animals. Last year, Parnassius apollo numbers declined by somewhere up to 90%. This project could thus play a key role in conserving the Central European gene pool of this iconic species and maintaining the population of this butterfly in our region.

The caterpillars of the next generation of Apollo hatched from eggs in the rescue kennel a few weeks ago, and now there are hundreds of them. The actual hatching of the butterflies could take place in June, after which we plan the first experimental release of males at the Krkonoše sites where the field work mentioned last year took place. It does not make much sense to reshape the habitat according to the so-called “human view”, even if we are convinced that our efforts are correct. By observing certain behavioural traits of butterflies, which they can demonstrate directly in the field, we can learn from unnecessary mistakes and guide our efforts in the right direction.

Outreach activities in White Carpathians

As our project continues, so does our centre (Education and information centre Bílé Karpaty) continue to create educational and teaching aids. But how to test if these tools work as we imagined? The best way, of course, is to try them out directly while working with the children for whom they are primarily intended. The best time for such a trial is when setting up the Apollo Gardens, which have been introduced on this website before (for example, in the article Two Apollo Gardens built).

We have managed to build four such gardens in the past year, each in partnership with a school. All four gardens are raised beds that we have constructed in a pre-selected location. The rest was up to the children. With undisguised joy and enthusiasm, the children became gardeners and filled the bed with soil and levelled its surface. They then placed larger and smaller stones, which they had brought themselves, on a part of the bed to create a small rock garden. They poured silica sand into the slits between the stones.

Then came the main thing. Since the Apollo Gardens are meant to be an environment for both adult butterflies and their caterpillars, the prepared bed needed to be enlivened with nectarous plants for the adult butterflies and host plants for the caterpillars. The children planted white stonecrop plants in the sand of the rock garden and randomly planted small common houseleek among them. Although it is not an important food plant for caterpillars, caterpillars can occasionally use it and it is a nice diversion to the rock garden. Next to the rock garden, the children planted great stonecrop – another important food plant for caterpillars.

What about the rest of the bed area? The children had already guessed that the flowering plants that the adult butterflies need to live would come here. We provided meadow plant mix seeds for this purpose. A significant part of this mixture consisted of seeds of the Apollo´s favourite plants (various pink and purple flowering plants) and the rest of the seeds were other meadow plants to make the bed more varied, attractive to other pollinators and to keep it flowering for as long as possible.

An indispensable part of creating each bed was the time we spent with the children talking about the life cycle of butterflies, their importance in nature and other things. Of course, we also introduced in detail our main hero, the Apollo butterfly, the reasons why it has disappeared from our nature and how we can help it. At this point it was also our turn to try out some of the tools we had already created. A great success was always achieved by the Apollo pupa, several meters long, which the children climbed through, and on the other side, an adult Apollo emerged from them. Equally enthusiastic was the preparation of a sweet drink (represented nectar in flowers for the adult butterflies) and tattoos with all the developmental stages of the Apollo.

We have not only used the tools and materials to build Apollo Gardens, but also at several other events for the public. The children enjoyed the activities and we believe they will not forget Apollo right away. Among other things, it was confirmed to us that even ordinary coloring according to a template still has its charm and can entertain children.

Learn about butterflies day: how the evolution of Lepidoptera contributed to a world full of colors

Today is the Learn about butterflies day! Let us dive a little bit into the evolutionary history of butterflies, and we can readily establish that indeed these insects should be celebrated! One of many reasons why, is the fact that without them, the world would not have been as brightly colored as it is now.

The order Lepidoptera

Lepidoptera, the order of insects which includes butterflies and moths, is one of the largest and most widespread insect orders in the world, with about 160,000 described species. In the last decades, research to Lepidoptera evolution has become more and more advanced (https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-ento-031616-035125). The first research started in the 1970s with morphological studies, i.e., research into the shape and form of Lepidoptera species to classify them in different classes. Later, research advanced to the use of molecular techniques to acquire elaborate data on DNA sequences. This enabled researchers to classify about 46 superfamilies within the Lepidoptera group.

The oldest Lepidopteran fossil is from an organism living in the early Jurassic (193 million years ago). Unfortunately, the Lepidopteran fossil record is limited due to the high fragility of the scale-covered wings and bodies. Still, data suggests that the Lepidoptera order played a huge role in the large-scale radiation and diversification of angiosperms (flowering plants). Angiosperms are now the most diverse and largest group within the plant kingdom, with about 300.000 species, representing 80% of all known green plants. They are the plants that produce flowers and seeds.

Coevolution

But how can butterflies influence the formation of so many different species of flowering plants? This happened because of the process of coevolution. Coevolution is the evolutionary change of multiple populations or species as a result of the interactions between those populations or species. Butterflies feed on nectar, which could be produced by the angiosperms. Angiosperms are insect-pollinated plants, meaning that the transport of reproductive material relies on insect traffic going from one plant to another. So, both species groups depend on each other to survive and reproduce. This led to the opportunity for even more specific plant-pollinator  interactions. 

A pollinator can be generalized, i.e., it can feed on multiple species of nectariferous plants, or it can be specialized, i.e., it has specific features that are compatible with only one nectariferous species. The same applies for the plants, they can be pollinated by several species or they can be specialized and adapt in such a way that only one pollinator species can pollinate. Being a specializer, both as a pollinator and as a plant, comes with certain advantages. For the plant, pollination can become more efficient and less pollen is wasted. For the pollinator, a ‘private’ food source means less competition with other species. This ‘selective advantage’ to become specializers led to the great diversification of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) and angiosperms (flowering plants). 

Coevolution: P. apollo and its host plants

What does this mean for the Apollo butterfly and its host plants? The Apollo butterfly lives on open, rocky slopes and alpine meadows in the mountains. It is specialized to feed on the plants that occur in these habitats and the plants depend on the Apollo for pollination and thereby their reproduction. This shows the delicate interactive balance between flora and fauna in these ecosystems, and the necessity to preserve all the important actors.

So let’s celebrate today as The learn about butterflies day and take some time to appreciate their role in the evolution of flowers!

To extra celebrate the Apollo butterfly, you can now test your knowledge in a quiz! Browse our website for information if you do not know the answer and try to get as many points as possible. 

Who do you think came first, the butterfly or the flowering plant?

Öbb goes glyphosate-free: a win for Apollo!

What is glyphosate?

Glyphosate is the active ingredient used in herbicides. It is used for example in Roundup, from which you may have heard because it is a globally used and discussed herbicide. Glyphosate is a chemical compound that inhibits a certain enzyme in plants and is used to kill plants that are seen as weeds, especially in agriculture. Agricultural crops can be genetically engineered to be glyphosate-resistant, enabling farmers to use it without damaging their own crops.  But it is also used in, for example, home gardening and weed control by local governments in cities and villages. 

Glyphosate was first brought to the market to be used as herbicide in 1974 as Roundup by Monsanto in the United States. Now, glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. 

Glyphosate, trains, and half-time

The Austrian railway company, Öbb, used glyphosate to keep the train tracks free from plants. From 2022 onwards, they adapted an environment-friendly strategy of using glyphosate-free products. Where in 2021 Öbb used 5.3 tons of glyphosate on the train tracks, in 2022 this was zero. 

An interesting fact about glyphosate is that its ‘half-life’ (the time needed to reduce the initial amount by half) is typically about 47 days in the field (although this varies dependent on the type of soil). But if we take into account the 47 days, this would mean that now in the beginning 2024, two years later, there is only little glyphosate from the 5.3 tons of glyphosate sprayed in 2021 left, because the initial amount has halved about 17 times!  

Good news for P. Apollo and other insects

The decision to go glyphosate-free by the Öbb is good news for insects in Austria. Glyphosate not only destructs suitable habitats for butterflies and insects by killing the plants they feed and lay eggs on, it also impacts the fauna on a more chemical level. 

Glyphosate inhibits the production of Melanin, which is a pigment found in all life kingdoms. Melanin plays an important role in a diverse range of biological functions. For example, we produce melanin in our skin to for UV protection. In insects, melanin plays a crucial role in the immune system. During melanization (the process of making of melanin), several chemical components resulting from this process are used to defend the organism from harmful bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens. The inhibition of melanization leads to a higher susceptibility to pathogens in insects and thereby increasing mortality and decreasing population sizes.

The inhibition of melanin is only one reason why glyphosate is harmful for insects. Studies suggest that there are even more pathways of how glyphosate use leads to increased insect mortality. This highlights why it is such good news for PApollo and other insects that Öbb stopped using glyphosate.

Rest of Europe?

The debate in Europe about the use of glyphosate is still ongoing. Unfortunately, the European Commission has reauthorized the herbicide for another 10 years. There are several initiatives going on to legally challenge this decision, such as this one by the Pesticide Action Network Europe.

In Austria, the government voted for a partial ban on glyphosate in 2021, meaning that there is a usage ban in ‘sensitive’ areas and for private use. However, the professional use of glyphosate, including agriculture, remains allowed. 

Hopefully, more companies will independently decide to stop using glyphosate, just as Öbb did!

Do you want to know more about the effect of glyphosate on insects? Leave a comment!

Summary of Apollo EduActivities in Austria 2023

The LIFEApollo2020 project includes educational activities aiming at raising awareness about the need of preserving the Parnassius apollo butterfly. This species serves as an umbrella species, meaning its well-being reflects the overall health of its habitat. By focusing on the conservation of this flagship species, the project indirectly addresses the conservation needs of the entire ecosystem it inhabits. Moreover, the project emphasizes inclusivity by actively involving the broader community in environmental conservation efforts and promoting social responsibility. Through workshops and hands-on activities, participants are engaged in learning about the life cycle and ecological significance of the Apollo butterfly.

As part of the LIFEApollo 2020 project, our Austrian partner, the European Wilderness Society, in collaboration with butterfly expert Otto Feldner, conducted  numerous engaging workshops in various Austrian schools, from kinder-gardens to high schools. These workshops were designed to capture the attention and curiosity of students and to create an interactive learning environment. 

Throughout these sessions, students were introduced to the captivating world of Apollo butterflies, delving into every stage of their life cycle, from eggs to fully developed adults. Vital topics such as habitat requirements, overwintering behaviors, and the significance of specific feeding plants essential for Apollo butterflies were covered in detail. Notably, these workshops ignited a sense of enthusiasm among students, who eagerly shared their knowledge about butterflies. This enthusiastic response underscores the importance of fostering a connection between young minds and the natural world.

The LIFEApollo2020 project also aims to build Apollo gardens, unique spaces dedicated to cultivating food plants essential for the caterpillars and butterflies of the Apollo species. In Austria, two such gardens were established, one involving secondary school students and the other engaging children from a kindergarten. These gardens not only served as educational tools but also as practical conservation measures. Students eagerly participated in their production, and during construction, the significance of plants that attract butterflies—especially the vital Sedum for the Apollo caterpillar—was highlighted. The success of the Apollo Gardens was evident through the satisfaction expressed by smiling students and teachers involved in the activity.

In Autumn, European Wilderness Society took an advantage of the chance to reach a wider audience by participating in the “Fest der Natur” event in Wels, Austria. EWS was one of more than thirty exhibitors that presented presented nature conservation initiatives. The engaging event featured interactive games and content designed to educate both younger and older about the importance and protection of the Parnassius apollo butterfly. By providing a platform for participants to actively learn and engage in nature conservation, the event highlighted the broader significance of protecting local nature and biodiversity. The positive response and varied program ensured that the project’s message resonated effectively.

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

Livestock Grazing’s Role in Preserving Apollo’s Habitat

By Vlado Vancura

Domestic grazers, like livestock, might seem to be an unexpected ally for Apollo butterflies. Their role in creating a suitable habitat for this butterfly is fascinating. When the livestock graze, they systematically remove the emerging sprouts of trees and shrubs. That is their way how maintaining an open landscape. It is a process that helps to diversify meadows and preserves the open landscape that P. apollo thrive.

In the past, the role of creating suitable habitats, not only for Apollo butterflies but also for various other insects, was primarily fulfilled by native grazers like red deer, roe deer, wild goats, wild horses, European bison, or also the extinct auroch. These wild herbivores played a crucial part in shaping the landscape through their feeding behavior, preventing excessive growth of shrubs and trees. The unintentional impact of these grazers resulted in the removal of growing shrubs and young trees, maintaining open spaces. These open spaces allowed sunlight to reach the ground, establishing and sustaining the specific conditions vital for the life of Parnasius apollo. Simultaneously, this natural process diversified plant life, offering a variety of nectar sources for butterflies and host plants for their larvae.

Today, domestic animals such as cows, sheep, goats, and horses play a comparable function in habitat preservation to native grazers. The grazing actions of these domestic grazers help to create open spaces and allow sunlight to reach the ground. As a result, domestic grazers actively encourage the growth of a wide range of plant species that serve as nectar supplies for adult butterflies (imagines) and host plants for larvae. With careful management, domestic grazers can become collaborative partners in biodiversity conservation. This example vividly demonstrates how human actions, when coordinated with natural rhythms, can considerably benefit the well-being of P. apollo butteflies.

Grazing behaviours varies among domestic grazers. Sheep carefully nibble close to the ground, resulting in properly groomed areas.  As browsers, goats extend their reach to shrub leaves and twigs, causing vegetation to change structure. Cattle use a sweeping grazing motion to impact bigger areas.  Each species makes a distinctive contribution to the shaping of environment. Understanding and applying the various grazing habits of numerous domestic grazers allows us to build a balance that closely matches natural processes and in which also Apollo butterflies can thrive.

Today, the thriving habitat of the Parnassius Apollo, encompassing alpine and subalpine grasslands, dry calcareous grasslands, and slopes in upland areas, faces a threat from uncontrolled vegetation overgrowth. The delicate balance crucial for supporting the unique flora essential to the butterfly’s life cycle depends on well-maintained open spaces. Ensuring stable Apollo populations necessitates a habitat that provides both food plants for the larvae and nectareous plants for the adults. Domestic pastures provide as a safeguard, preventing spontaneous overgrowth, which happens quickly when grazing is reduced or stopped. Strategic grazing management, particularly with the help of goats, proves effective in reducing the vegetation growth and protecting a vital environment for the Parnassius apollo.

This demonstrates how coordinated conservation efforts, particularly through effective domestic animal grazing management, can be realised. When faced with the difficulty of protecting important open spaces, incorporating grazing practices emerges as a viable solution to ensure Parnassius apollo’s existence. It provides a compelling model for harmonious interaction with the environment while preserving the captivating world of these butterflies.

2024: Mosel’s Apollo crowned as Butterfly of the Year!

In 2024, the charming Mosel region has crowned the Apollo Butterfly as its Butterfly of the Year! This magnificent insect has captured the hearts of locals and visitors alike with its vibrant beauty and captivating charm. Choosing the apollo for Butterfly of the Year, a decision which was also influenced by nature conservation organisations such as BUND NRW, has a worrying background: In the Mosel region, pesticides are still used that send apollo population down a dark path.

The Mosel wine region in Germany is not only renowned for its picturesque landscapes and world-class wines but also for the unique ecosystem that thrives there. However, this delicate balance of nature is now under threat as the use of pesticides in the vineyards has begun to take a toll on the insects resident in the Mosel region, including the Parnassius apollo. The decrease of individuals in the Mosel region correlates with the use of pesticides in recent years. Pesticides are spread by helicopters and it is particularly noteworthy that at least the new substances used in recent times are applied without any nature conservation impact assessment.

The subpopulation of the Mosel region, namely Parnassius apollo ssp. vinningensis, only exists in this particular region. It differs slightly from apollo subspecies in the Alps, Sweden or from those found in Spain. Beyond its visual appeal, the Apollo Butterfly possesses an intriguing life cycle. The species is known for its preference for high-altitude habitats, making the Mosel region an ideal home if it were not for applied chemicals and pesticides.

The Apollo Butterfly’s recognition as Butterfly of the Year is a testament to its vibrant beauty and captivating charm. At the same time, however, it is a warning. Like in many other European regions as well as in Germany, the apollo population of the Mosel region is declining rapidly and is in great danger of extinction. Alternatives for harmful pesticides must be found if this beautiful butterfly should be protected. Moreover, it is essential to preserve the habitats that this species relies on. By protecting their preferred host plants and maintaining the natural balance of the ecosystem, the magnificent butterflies can thrive. In the Mosel region, visitors still flock to the area to witness the Apollo Butterfly in its natural habitat, with guided tours and educational programs providing an opportunity to learn more about this enchanting species. This might change in the future though if nothing is done right now.

The Apollo Butterfly’s striking appearance and graceful flight have also inspired artists and designers in the region. Their unique patterns and colors have been incorporated into various forms of art, from paintings to jewelry. Local festivals and events now celebrate the Apollo Butterfly, with dedicated butterfly-themed exhibitions and workshops. These festivities not only showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage but also raise awareness about the importance of preserving biodiversity and the delicate balance of nature.

As we celebrate the Apollo Butterfly being crowned as the Butterfly of the Year in 2024, we are reminded of the beauty and wonder that nature bestows upon us. We are also reminded of the harm humans can do to other creatures smaller and weaker than us if we do not realise that we are part of the natural ecosystem.

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!