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.
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.
In this article you will learn about the secrets of butterfly survival in winter conditions
Winter is a long period to which butterflies adapt in many different ways. Some of them overwinter as adults, while others undertake long migrations. Some, like Apollo spend the winter in eggs. By learning the characteristics of the Apollo butterfly cycle, you’ll realize that it doesn’t have an easy path to follow until warmer days arrive. If you want to understand our hero’s biology, learn about the longest period of his life, which is Winter. We’ll start with the prelude, which is the formation of eggs.
BEFORE EGGS ARE FORMED
The very short flight period of adult butterflies is the time devoted mainly to pairing and egg-laying. The eggs must be well constructed to provide a safty for the caterpillars in winter conditions. During copulation, the female is protected by a chitinous  material called sfragis.
After a few days, the female starts laying eggs, she is able to lay up to 300 of them. Such a number of eggs increases the chance for larvae to find a host plant , such as some species of Sedum, Sempervivum and Rhodiola.
LIFE FORMATION AND SURVIVAL
Winter and cold are harsh conditions for most butterflies. The time that the caterpillars spend in the eggs is the time that will determine their future population . It is worth considering what happens to the eggs after the female lays them, what processes are responsible for such unusual changes in nature?
The eggs have a chitinous layer that protects future caterpillars from pathogens  and high moisture. They also include various amino acids, proteins and enzymes. The eggs themselves are very solid, but they allow air to flow inside, not all of them come out perfect and not from all of them will hatch caterpillars. There are still many factors to decide. Already in the fourth week after their laying, caterpillars appear in the eggs, but for the next eight months they will lie dormant. The whole cluster will wait until the spring comes during the winter cold.
TIME AND REACTION
While waiting for the time to emerge from the egg, the caterpillar experiences many trials.
The first of them is early spring – a time when temperatures can periodically increase enough to give a false signal to the little ones to wake up. Such a situation can happen even in autumn, when the heat and warm nights last for a long time, and even in winter if there is a sudden warming. It is enough that the temperature rises at night and the morning rays of the sun warm the eggs. For the caterpillars, such a change means death due to the returning cold and lack of food. The large number of eggs produced by each female increases the chances that some will hatch at the right moment. This is one of many adaptations to the conditions in which the butterfly lives.
In the end of Winter and start of Spring comes the proper period of awakening for caterpillars. Depending on the region, it can be slightly shifted in time, but usually it is between March and April. It may also happen that winter will shift and warming will come later. The nights are still chilly in the mountains, but time is pressing as the nutrient material inside the egg is running out. When the time comes, the caterpillars will begin to feed on the egg wall and will chew through its shell. They will then gain strength and take off quickly in search of a host plant.
Adult butterflies equipped with wings are not particularly fast, but their caterpillars are determined to move very quickly. If these little caterpillars don’t find food in time, they won’t survive. This is another adaptation that increases the chances of survival of the species.
A year in the life of a butterfly is trials, chances and races, a series of successes and failures. All this to close the cycle and make the next generation of species. Only in this way they can survive in a harsh and rapidly changing world.
- chitin – a chemical compound (polysacharide) forming the upper skeleton in some organisms along with proteins, calcium and magnesium salts obtained with food in the case of insects.
- host plant – a plant that the organism needs for development in most of its life cycle.
- population – a group of individuals of one species inhabiting a given area at a certain time.
-pathogens – biological agents that cause diseases in living organisms, including viruses, bacteria, protozoa and fungi.
Les Pages Entomogoliques d’Andre Lequet. European Lepidoptera and their ecology: Parnassius apollo
Have you become familiar with the Apollo butterfly yet? It is also worth taking a moment to look at its host plants. We will focus on Sedum, a very interesting genus of plants from an even more interesting family. And as it happens in the family, nothing is so simple and obvious.
Author : Krzysztof Kalemba
Stonecrop (Sedum spp.) is a genus of the Crassulaceae plants, including more than 600 species according to various approaches, it is worth noting that this number is still not final, as research on this group is still in progress. Members of the Crassulaceae family can be found on all continents. Most of them are succulents, i.e. plants that have adapted to life in conditions of limited water availability by storing it in their tissues. Despite this, species of succulents can be found in a variety of habitats.
Among the Central European Sedum species, we find those of large size, often forming compact clumps of shoots, and smaller ones that like to dominate the space.We will focus on species from this region, as they are of particular interest to the Apollo butterfly (Parnassius apollo) in the area of our project activities.
Big Brother and cousins
Larger stonecrop species can be found both in lowlands and in higher mountainous locations. They share a similar structure of leaves and flowers, preferences for permeable soil (involving sand, rocks or stones) and southern exposure. Most of them are subspecies of Hylotelephium telephium which in its natural form has pink flowers. One of the most common subspecies is grand stonecrop (Hylotelephium maximum, Sedum maximum), which can be found in the mountains, forests, as well as in lowland areas, also in agricultural areas. You can recognize this stonecrop by its cream-colored flowers and bluish-green leaves. In Eastern Europe, flowers of a similar color are also found in Hylotelephium telephium ssp. ruprechtii, where we more often encounter a red-colored stem. Carpathian stonecrop (Hylotelephium telephium ssp. fabaria) is a species that prefers mountain and foothill areas rich in limestone, despite its similarity to the great sedum, it has light pink to maroon flowers. Depending on the location and soil, Hylotelephium stems may take on a reddish color.
The greatest diversity is found among the smaller species of the more numerous Sedum species. Differences between the color of leaves, flowers, shape, height and growth are more noticeable. As in the case of Hylotelephium, we have here species that prefer high mountains, foothills and lowlands. Some of them like areas heavily transformed by humans. The most common and recognizable species here is the gold moss stonecrop (Sedum acre). This one loves stone and sandy areas, it will not despise rubble or tracks. Its characteristic feature is the formation of turf, compact structure and numerous yellow flowers. A twin of the tasteless stonecrop (Sedum sexangulare), with shorter leaves, definitely freer areas richer in limestone. Jenny’s stonecrop (Petrosedum rupestre) is distinguished by longer and narrower leaves, higher raised flowers. The white stonecrop (Sedum album), widespread throughout Europe, will have a similar structure but white flowers.
More Sedum and Petrosedum photos You can see here :
As is often the case with plants, there are also species of foreign origin that are widespread in Central Europe. We have always had a passion for importing other species and experimenting. In this way, the two-row stonecrop (Phemidius spurius), with pink flowers and incised, spatulate leaves, began to escape to nature in the 19th century. Another escapee was an Asian species, the butterfly stonecrop (Hylotelephium spectabile) deceptively similar to the common species of Hylotelephium in Europe. An introduced species of foreign origin for Germany, Austria and Norway was the orange stonecrop (Phedimus kamtschaticus), similar to the two-row stonecrop but with yellow flowers.
Sedum plants are considered succulents for a reason, their ability to accumulate water in leaves, stems and tubers is remarkable. They are characterized by extraordinary vitality, the ability to reproduce in several ways and several defensive features. In fear of pests, a large part of stonecrops has developed a defense system. In defense against pests, a great number of stonecrops produce alkaloids, poisonous or unpalatable substances. Their function is to discourage insects from gnawing on the plants. The gold moss stonecrop contains toxic sedamine, sodimine and nicotine. The adult grand stonecrop is also able to increase its chances of survival thanks to sedamine and piperidine, a feature that butterflies have learned to avoid. Caterpillars of the chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) and the Apollo butterfly follow their rather strict diet, feeding mainly on stonecrops. The choice of such a group of host plants has meant that they must somehow cope with the presence of alkaloids. This forces them to constantly change their feeding sites and go after plants that have not yet produced enough alkaloids to harm the caterpillars.
You can also read our article about Apollo in Winter
Alkaloids from Sedum telephium L.
Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our century. Along with habitat destruction, they are the main drivers of the global biodiversity crisis. There are more species in danger of extinction than ever before. Many studies show that butterflies are among the species that have responded the most to climate change, usually in the form of northward or elevation range shifts. Climate change affects their life cycles, flight times, essential interactions and ultimately survival.
Parnassius apollo is an exemplary case of these challenges. Since the first half of the twentieth century, P. apollo populations have declined and become rare or extinct in several European countries. The main causes for such a decline are anthropic, such as inadequate shepherding, pollution, tourism, collecting or habitat loss. However, species sensitivity to habitat alteration and climate change also plays a crucial role.
Butterflies go through a series of swift and dramatic transformations during their life circle. This metamorphosis is sensitive to climatic changes since the transformation from one stage to the next is synchronous with the rhythms of nature and similar to many other natural cycles. A lot of butterflies possess a special sensitivity to warm environments. Thus a slight increase in temperature, imperceptible to humans carries vital significance to butterflies. It has triggered new patterns in their metamorphosis process and even driven the creatures out of their native habitats.
One of the ways of species adaption is through changing the time of year at which they are active. Such timing of life circle events is called “phenology”, so when species start things earlier in the year they are said to be “advancing its phenology”. Advances to some extent have been observed in a wide range of butterflies and moths.
Studies show that species with more flexible lifecycles are more likely to benefit from an earlier emergence driven by climate change. Some species are able to go from caterpillar to butterfly twice or more per year, allowing population growth to occur. However, there are also other species that are less flexible and restricted to a single reproductive cycle per year. They have no benefit from emerging earlier. Moreover, species specialising in one specific habitat type tend to be harmed by advancing phenology.
Butterflies on the move
As a result of climate warming native butterflies all over the world are currently on the move. They are leaving their homes and going to places with cooler temperatures. Long migrations possess a lot of perils. Sometimes the obstacles on a way make a move impossible, which brings us to the human role in the lives of butterflies. Habitat fragmentation caused by land development combined with climate change threatens butterflies’ survival, depriving them of safe stopover points where they can rest and replenish their energy.
This migration is particularly visible in mountain regions. Thus studies show significant and constant shifts of butterfly distributions in the eastern Alps towards higher elevations. As these changes differ among species, they might result in serious community modifications with possible effects on species interactions and competition. A particular concern is caused by species with a low disposition to dispersal because they usually remain in one habitat for many generations.
Parnassius apollo populations are small and isolated with distribution restricted to mountain ranges. Global climate change shuffles their vegetation habitat structure, causing plant species to move toward mountain summits. That changes biotic interactions between insects and plants. Climate change also directly affects species distributions, with the elevational distribution of Parnassius species shifting upward on mountains. Yet mountain ranges are finite and even the highest mountains present ecological and evolutionary limits for parnassians.
Protecting one species to protect all the others
As climate change continues, butterflies may find themselves unable to live with us. Due to our reckless treatment of their habitats, we can lose these joyful and beautiful creatures. Yet the protection of butterflies from climate change is important not only for the sake of their beauty. Butterflies play an important role in our ecosystems. Their caterpillars consume large quantities of plants and act as prey for other species. They also act as pollinators of a wide range of plant species. The destruction of butterflies might result in unpredictable cumulative effects for other species in the ecosystem.
Parnassius apollo acts as an umbrella species for the protection of biodiversity on the ecosystem level and habitat mosaics. By protecting the species itself, other species and habitats associated with it, are also protected.
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