Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne)
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2018 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.
|13003_male?_Valais, Switzerland_15Jul08||40793_male?_Alpes-Maritimes_29Jun16||40795_pair, male above_Alpes-Maritimes_29Jun16|
The third of the Parnassius genus that occur in France, the other two being the Apollo (P. apollo) and Small Apollo (P. phoebus). I am not sure how to determine the sex of mnemosyne, as T&L gives two illustrations of a male upperside and none of a female, unless (as is likely) one is mis-labelled. H&R, however, states that the female is similar to the male although the markings are more extensive, and that the upper surface (dorsum) of the abdomen is black and glabrous (free from hair).
It is a butterfly of the mountains but not necessarily very high altitudes, Lafranchis giving the minimum altitude as 700m. I first saw mnemosyne in Switzerland in 2008, the battered individual 13003. It has a fairly early flight period, May-June, so showing wear by early July and clearly 13003 was at the very end of its flight period. I next saw mnemosyne in several locations in the Alpes-Maritimes in 2010, mostly singles, but several were flying in one location.
The French population of mnemosyne has been divided in six separate subspecies, the subspecies which occurs in the département of Var being cassiensis. There is one historic location, but there were doubts as to whether it still occurred there; however, in 2016 a Marseille-based friend of mine (CJ) made the arduous journey to this remote location and confirmed that a healthy colony still continues there.
The females of all three French Parnassius species have a device at the end of the abdomen to prevent mating when it has already done so, called a sphragis. I believe it to be a waxy substance applied by males after copulation which then hardens. The mnemosyne female sphragis is particularly large. An example of this can be seen on 21269 and 21270.
|25460||M||a much fresher male than the others on this page, being seen earlier in the flight period.||1400|
|43384||M||a male, showing some signs of wear even in mid-June.||1550|
|43390||M||a male, photographed on the same day as 43384 but very fresh, and adopting the same folded-back wing pose so characteristic of this species.||1550|
possibly a male, as the abdomen is hairy and the female abdomen is described as hairless. Often, though, individuals at the very end of the flight period will be females.
|40793||M?||I believe this to be a male on the basis of the extent of the upperside black markings - the male is less heavily marked than the female - and the extent of the apical region that is devoid of scales, where, again, the male has a smaller area than the female. However, I have limited experience of females, hence the lack of confidence. 40792 is the underside.||1550|
|40795||PAIR||a pair engaged in courtship. The male is above the female here.||1550|
this may be a female based on the body width and lack of hair, and the heavier markings on the uph.
this is clearly a female as the sphragis is clearly visible at the end of the abdomen.
|40792||M?||the underside of 40793.||1550|
this is the same butterfly as 21269 and this side view better shows the sphragis and its size.
40795_pair, male above_Alpes-Maritimes_29Jun16