Butterflies of Europe
Family - PAPILIONIDAE
Parnassius, known commonly as Apollos,
comprises of 54 species. Three of these are endemic to North
America, a further 2 are found both in North America and the
Palaearctic, and the remainder are distributed variously across
Europe and temperate Asia.
are instantly recognisable as a genus, having rounded translucent
whitish wings that in most species are adorned with prominent
white-centred red ocelli. P. mnemosyne
is one of the few exceptions which lack the red ocelli.
Many Parnassius species are extremely
rare and have a very localised distribution, but
mnemosyne is very widespread, being
found from Spain to central Asia.
mnemosyne BŁkk plateau, Hungary
© Peter Bruce-Jones
This species breeds on rocky mountainsides and limestone pavements,
typically choosing sites where there are flat boulders on which they
can bask, and crevices or hollows in which they can hide during bad
weather. The butterflies generally seem to prefer damper habitats
They are generally found at altitudes between about 800-2500m.
larval foodplant is Corydalis solida.
mnemosyne Kercaszomor, Hungary
In warm sunny conditions the butterflies fly actively from flower to
flower, visiting mostly thistles and knapweeds. In cooler weather they
often bask on lichen-encrusted rocks and boulders, or among grasses,
just above ground level.
Copulation takes place at about midday, and lasts for about 2 hours,
or longer if weather conditions are cooler. During copulation the
females develop a large chitinous structure called a sphragis on their
abdomens, which seals the genital opening and prevents other males
from mating with them.