Apollo

Parnassius apollo (par-NA-see-uss a-POL-oh)

Apollo, Parc du Mercantour, Alpes-Maritimes, France, 7th July 2014
Photo © David M
 

Wingspan
Male: 70 - 84mm
Female: 76 - 90mm

Checklist Number
56.001

Family:PapilionidaeLatreille, 1802
Subfamily:ParnassiinaeDuponchel, 1835
Tribe:ParnassiiniDuponchel, 1835
Genus:ParnassiusLatreille, 1804
Subgenus:  
Species:apollo(Linnaeus, 1758)

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Introduction

The Apollo, also known as the Crimson-ringed in earlier literature, has very occasionally been recorded in the British Isles despite the nearest resident population being 450 miles away, according to Emmet (1990). Morley & Chalmers-Hunt (1959) list 20 or so known records, from 1803 up until 1957 and Emmet (1990) brings this list up to date. A summary of all records is given below. This species has many subspecies; those most likely to reach the British Isles are those originating from the mountains of Norway, ssp. jotunensis, and those from south-west Germany, and the Vosges and Jura mountains in France, ssp. melliculus.

Morley & Chalmers-Hunt (1959), Emmet (1990) and other authors dismiss most of the records as either accidental or intentional introductions, but recognise the validity of some others. From Morley & Chalmers-Hunt (1959): "None the less, there is no reason, to doubt that P. apollo has from time to time been taken in the British Isles" and from Emmet (1990): "The accumulated evidence makes it reasonable to define it as an occasional natural immigrant".

The 1955 record from Folkestone Warren has received the most attention. Morley & Chalmers-Hunt (1959) provide additional information on this specimen: "a) Though by no means in bad condition, it is somewhat worn and had evidently been out of the crysalis for several days, at least. b) It had already paired, as can readily be ascertained with the females of this species. c) It is rather large, and the rings on the hindwings are of a good size. From (a) it may be gathered that if it had been bred in this country it had escaped notice for some time, (b) makes it most unlikely that it was bred here, and as to (c), Mr N. D. Riley compared it with the series in the British Museum, Natural History, and wrote the following note: "It does not agree with the Scandinavian sub-species. It agrees best with the race of Central Europe, occurring in south Germany and extending east and west into France and Austria, north of the main Alps. This is called by most authors melliculus Stitchel". Mr B.C.S. Warren went through his fine collection of apollo from various parts of Europe and found only one real parallel, the race from the Jura mountains in France".

Emmet (1990) also focuses on this specimen: "It should be noted that the capture of the Apollo in Folkestone Warren on 3 August 1955 coincided with the capture there of Nymphalis antiopa (Linnaeus) [Camberwell Beauty] on the same day and also with an influx to the coasts of Essex and Kent of many Eurois occulta (Linnaeus) [Great Brocade] and of a non-British form of Syngrapha interrogationis (Linnaeus) [Scarce Silver Y], which was believed to have come from the western slopes of the Alps. It is also significant that other well-dated records of Parnassius apollo, those in 1889, 1920 and 1928, were in years of large immigrations, including in 1889 eight Nymphalis antiopa. The accumulated evidence makes it reasonable to define it as an occasional natural immigrant".

YearLocationNotesSource
c.1803 Scotland "And I have recently heard that the Papilio Apollo has been found in Scotland, but have not seen a British specimen of that beautiful species myself". Westwood (1841) subequently states "... it appears to be very questionable how far it is truly a British species, the original specimen, supposed to have been captured in one of the Hebrides, having been received in a box of insects from Norway". Haworth (1803)
c.1812 Isle of Lewis "I was informed by the late Sir William Hooker that in 1812, or about that date, Apollo is said to have occurred in the Island of Lewis, and was taken by a tenant of Lord Seaforth's, who had the specimen, but that there being at that time some communication between Norway and the Island of Lewis, the specimen might have come from Norway - J.C.Dale". Newman (1870)
1834 West coast of Scotland "Mr. Duncan ... states that he had been assured that it had been noticed on the wing in some part of the west coast of Scotland in the summer of 1834". Westwood (1841)
West Coast in the North of Scotland "The late Mr. Haworth informed me that a lady, whom Mr. Curtis believed was the Marchioness of Bute, told him she had received a specimen from some alpine place on the West Coast in the North of Scotland. - J.C.Dale". Newman (1870)
Ben Lawers, Scotland "Mr. Curtis was convinced he saw a specimen of Apollo flying over the top of a house at the foot of Ben Lawers; and afterwards, on seeing this species on the Continent, he felt assured he was correct - J.C.Dale". " Newman (1870)
Lewis or Harris "Mr. Wailes, of Newcastle, told me he had a correspondent in Lewis or Harris, from whom he had received many insects ... who knew Apollo well, and said he had taken it; and he particularly described the red ocelli - J.C.Dale". Newman (1870)
"Mr. Floyer, M.P., told me he had seen a specimen of Apollo in Sir C. Trevellyan's cabinet - J.C.Dale". Newman (1870)
Cornwall "Sir C. Lemon wrote to me that he had taken a specimen of Apollo in Cornwall, but suggested that it might have been imported with plants in his hothouse - J.C.Dale." Newman (1870)
1847 or 1848 Dover, Kent "As you wish for more particulars about the capture of Parnassius, I have been today to see the person who took it, and hear from his own lips all about it. He was lying on the cliffs at Dover, in the end of August or the beginning of September, 1847 or 1848 (I cannot remember which), when the butterfly settled close to him, and not having his nets with him, captured it by putting his hat over it; he then carried it to his lodgings and shut window and door, and let it go in the room and secured it. He had not the slightest idea what it was till he saw it figured in some work afterwards. The insect has all the appearance of having been taken as he describes; and as he has no object to deceive, and is a person in whom I can place implicit confidence, I have no doubt, in my own mind, that the specimen is a British one. It will probably be in my own collection before this letter reaches you, when I shall be most happy to show it to you at any time you are this way". Wollaston (1856)
1847 or 1848 "I see, at the end of volume on the butterflies, that you have not seen an authenticated specimen of Doritis Apollo caught in this country. You will be pleased to learn that I have one in my possession which was taken by my late son at Epping, about the year 1847 or 1848 at the time he was a pupil at Dr. Usmar's school, which was previously that of Isaac Payne, where I was also a scholar for six years, and part of the time with Henry and Edward Doubleday. It is possible Henry Doubleday may have attempted to stock the neighbourhood with some of the rarer butterflies and moths. I think have heard my son say so, but am not quite certain." Holmes (1873)
c.1850 Hanwell, Ealing, London "I beg to inform you that I yesterday met a gentleman who assured me that he saw Parnassius Apollo at Hanwell about six years ago. He chased it, but without success. This gentleman's veracity may be relied on. At a time when Apollo's claim to be a British insect is under discussion every scrap of information is of value". Austin (1856)
1865 Isle of Wight "In 1865, in a boat off Sea View, I saw, for a few moments, resting on the boat, the last specimen of the Apollo butterfly seen in England. I might easily have caught it. I stopped the boatman from doing so. I knew its rarity and wished it to live. This the most beautiful of all our British butterflies, now extinct, was once common in the Isle of Wight, but building operations, and cutting down of the trees and shrubs on which the caterpillars fed made it scarce, and the "bug-hunter" did the rest - Stephen H. Terry". Lanktree (1960)
1888 Dover, Kent "During our recent visit to Dover one of my sons was collecting along the edge of the cliff, some distance beyond the Convict Prison, when he was startled by the sudden appearance of one of these fine insects. It flew from the bank (which hereabouts closely abuts on the path) across the path to the edge of the cliff, where it hovered for several seconds, and then slowly sailed downwards out of sight. Owing to the precarious nature of the ground my son was unable to take a step forward to secure it (which otherwise he could easily have done), but he had a splendid view of the insect. On his return he informed me of the occurrence, minutely describing the specimen, mentioning its colour, the rounded wings, and red ocelli. Naturally he waited long in the hope that it might reappear, but it was not to be: and we visited the spot afterwards several times, but without avail. Whence the insect came, and how it arrived there, I of course cannot say; I merely record its occurrence. The date was the 28th of August last. I greatly regretted having that morning gone in another direction ; had we been together, perchance we might have secured it." Sabine (1889)
1889 St. Margarets Bay, Dover, Kent A.F. Common writes that he bought a cabinet containing an apollo labelled "captured behind St Margaret's Bay, 1889. E. Clarke".
Portishead, Somerset "One or two near Portishead, Somerset". Barrett (1893)
Ambleside, Cumbria "Larva captured at Ambleside by Weaver". Barrett (1893)
1920 Silbury Hill, Wiltshire "In mid-August". Emmet (1990)
1928 Thorp, Suffolk One was captured by Mrs Webb on the coast at Thorp, Suffolk, September 10th 1928.
1955 Folkestone Warren, Kent "I think you might be interested to hear that on the 3rd August this year I caught a Parnassius apollo at the Warren, near Folkestone. Kent. At the time of capture its flight was slow and somewhat heavy. I have already shown the specimen to Mr. A. M. Morley, F.R.E.S., and it is now on show at the Folkestone Museum". Scott (1955)
1957 Tavistock Square, London "One found dead on a pavement in Tavistock Square, London on September 26th 1957 by D.P. Ransom".
1986 Loose, East Kent "Clearly seen ... 20 August (E.G. Philp, pers. comm.)". Emmet (1990)

Parnassius apollo

This species was first defined in Linnaeus (1758) as shown here (type locality: Sweden).

Apollo - imago - Unknown location - Unknown date(4) [Simon Crampin]

Male
Photo © Simon Crampin

Apollo; Dobrostan, Bulgaria 19/6/2013

Male Underside
Photo © jamesweightman

Apollo (female), Rochetaillee, Val d’Isere, Rhone Alpes, France, 21-06-2011

Female
Photo © Lee Hurrell

Apollo; Dobrostan, Bulgaria 19/6/2013

Female Underside
Photo © jamesweightman

Photo Album ...


History

The table below shows a chronology of vernacular names attributed to this species. Any qualification of the name (e.g. male, female) is shown in brackets after the name.

YearNameReference
1704Mr. Ray's Alpine ButterflyPetiver (1702-1706)
1832Crimson-ringedRennie (1832)
1832ApolloBrown (1832)

Conservation Status

No conservation action is relevant for this species.

Habitat

Description to be completed.

Distribution

1.3 Unknown
 

This distribution status of this species is unknown.

Life Cycle

Description to be completed.

Imago

Description to be completed.

Description to be completed.

Parnassius apollo

Apollo - imago - Unknown location - Unknown date [Roger Gibbons]

Photo © Roger Gibbons

Apollo - imago - Unknown location - Unknown date [Simon Crampin]

Photo © Simon Crampin

Apollo - imago - Unknown location - Unknown date(2) [Simon Crampin]

Photo © Simon Crampin

Apollo - imago - Unknown location - Unknown date(3) [Simon Crampin]

Photo © Simon Crampin

Apollo - imago - Unknown location - Unknown date(4) [Simon Crampin]

Photo © Simon Crampin

Apollo - imago - Thatcham - 27-Jun-10 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Jun-2010

Apollo (female), Rochetaillee, Val d’Isere, Rhone Alpes, France, 21-06-2011

Photo © Lee Hurrell

Apollo (female), Rochetaillee, Val d’Isere, Rhone Alpes, France, 21-06-2011

Photo © Lee Hurrell

Apollo (female), Rochetaillee, Val d’Isere, Rhone Alpes, France, 21-06-2011

Photo © Lee Hurrell

Apollo; Dobrostan, Bulgaria 19/6/2013

Photo © jamesweightman
19-Jun-2013

Apollo; Dobrostan, Bulgaria 19/6/2013

Photo © jamesweightman
19-Jun-2013

Apollo; Dobrostan, Bulgaria 19/6/2013

Photo © jamesweightman
19-Jun-2013

Apollo, Parc du Mercantour, Alpes-Maritimes, France, 7th July 2014

Photo © David M

Apollo, 29th June 2015, Parc du Mercantour, Alpes Maritimes, France

Photo © David M

Photo Album (14 photos) ...


Ovum

Description to be completed.

Parnassius apollo - Ovae (detail, Valais) [Wolfgang Wagner]

Photo © Wolfgang Wagner
www.pyrgus.de

Photo Album (1 photos) ...


Larva

Description to be completed.

The primary larval foodplant is Stonecrop (Sedum spp.).

Apollo - larva - Thatcham - 16-May-10 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
16-May-2010

Apollo - larva - Thatcham - 20-Apr-10 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Apr-2010

Apollo Caterpillar, Switzerland, June 2011

Photo © Padfield
Apollo caterpillar, near Simplon Pass, Switzerland, June 2011.

Photo Album (3 photos) ...


Pupa

Description to be completed.

Apollo - pupa - Thatcham - 03-Jun-10 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
03-Jun-2010

Photo Album (1 photos) ...


Aberrations

Description to be completed.

Click here to see the aberration descriptions and images for this species.

Similar Species

No similar species found.

Videos


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References

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Austin (1856) Austin, H. (1856) Parnassius Apollo at Ealing. Zoologist.
Barrett (1893) Barrett, C.G. (1893) The Lepidoptera of the British Islands (Vol.1 Rhopalocera).
Brown (1832) Brown, T. (1832) The book of butterflies, sphinxes and moths.
Duponchel (1835) Duponchel, P.A.J. (1835) Histoire naturelle des lépidoptères ou papillons de France, par M. J.-B. Godart. Continuée par P.-A.-J. Duponchel. Diurnes. Supplément aux tomes premier et deuxième.
Emmet (1990) Emmet, A.M. and Heath, J. (1990) The Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland.
Haworth (1803) Haworth, A.H. (1803) Lepidoptera Britannica.
Holmes (1873) Holmes, G.B. (1873) Doritos Apollo at Epping. The Entomologist.
Lanktree (1960) Lanktree, P.A.D. (1960) Some Old Records of Lepidoptera, and The Last Apollo seen in England - an allegation referring to 95 years ago. Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation.
Latreille (1802) Latreille, P.A. (1802) Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, des Crustacés et des Insectes.
Latreille (1804) Latreille, P.A. (1804) Nouveau Dictionnaire d'Histoire Naturelle.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae. Edition 10.
Morley & Chalmers-Hunt (1959) Morley, A.M. and Chalmers-Hunt, J.M. (1959) Some Observations on the Crimson Ringed Butterfly (Parnassus apollo L.) in Britain. Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation.
Petiver (1702-1706) Petiver, J. (1702-1706) Gazophylacii naturae et artis decas prima.
Rennie (1832) Rennie, J. (1832) A conspectus of the butterflies and moths found in Britain, with their English and systematic names, times of appearances, sizes, colours, their caterpillars, and various localities.
Sabine (1889) Sabine, E. (1889) Doritos Apollo at Dover. The Entomologist.
Scott (1955) Scott, P. (1955) Parnassius Apollo L. at Folkestone. Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation.
Westwood (1841) Westwood, J.O. (1841) British Butterflies and their Transformations.
Wollaston (1856) Wollaston, G.B. (1856) Capture of Parnassius Apollo at Dover; also Argynnis Lathonia, Chrysophanus dispar and Catocala Fraxini, near Chiselhurst, in Kent. Zoologist.