Small Apollo (Parnassius phoebus)

next page           back to list

2016 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

31123_male_Valais, Switzerland_12Jul12 31188_male_Valais, Switzerland_12Jul12

27219_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul11

27175_female_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul11

38106_male_Alpes-Maritimes_4Jul15 38145_pair, male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15
38139_pair, female_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15 38122_pair_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15 38158_pair_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15

 

27186_female_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul11

38194_larval hostplant_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15  

Very similar to its close cousin, the Apollo (P. apollo), although much less frequently encountered. It tends to be found at higher altitudes and Lafranchis gives the normal minimum altitude as 1800m, although occasionally occurring as low as 1300m.

 

The female is slightly larger and with a greyish suffusion and heavier markings generally, usually with a upf black spot in the discal region of s1b (where the male either does not, or occasionally a very small mark). Phoebus has two subspecies in France, sacerdos, the normal subspecies (as on this page), and gazeli, a very white subspecies occurring in a few high altitude locations in the Alpes-Maritimes.

 

Phoebus is a species that always seems to stay close to water, often being  seen at the edges of rivers, even if flowing torrentially.

Phoebus can be distinguished from apollo by the absence of the black spot in s1b of the upf, only true for males, although the females could be differentiated by the much more extensive greyish suffusion of phoebus. The phoebus upf post-discal spot in s8 is red-centred, whereas for apollo it is not; this holds true for both sexes. The definitive difference is that the phoebus antennal shaft is clearly ringed whereas the apollo shaft is indistinctly ringed. The male phoebus has a distinctly creamy-white appearance. Apollo also flies at subalpine levels.

 

The females of (I believe) 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 Clouded Apollo (P. mnemosyne) female sphragis is particularly large and can clearly be seen on examples on the mnemosyne page. I have not seen or read of the phoebus sphragis anywhere, but I understand it is a feature of Parnassius species.

ref

sex

observations

alt. m

31123 M a typical male. 2090
31188 M a male, the red marks in upf s8 are very small almost to the point of being vestigial. 2090

27219

M

a male, lightly marked and settling, as it often seems to do, low in grassy regions.

2550

27175

F

a female, the characteristic duskiness being quite apparent. 27186 is the underside.

2040

38106 M a male, seen at a riverside location close to the Italian border. 1900
38145 PAIR, M a mating pair, the male being visible in this shot, the female being largely obscured below. This, and the next three images, are of the same pair. In 38122 this pair were being attacked by another male who considered himself invited to the party. The male shown has some brownish liquid on the wings, which may have been secreted there by the other male which had departed at the time of this shot. 2020
38139 PAIR, F the female of the mating pair, following the attack by the uninvited male. The male involved in the mating is below with closed wings. This is a particularly dusky female, rather more so than others I have seen. 2020
38122 PAIR it might take some working out what is going on here, but the yellow female on the left is in copula with the male that is almost end-on. The male side-on is trying, very forcibly, to join the party, I suspect by trying to split the two that are joined. It is not an uncommon sight to see a mating pair being vigorously attended by another male, sometimes even two males, but the degree of ferocity that was going on here was something I had never witnessed before. The numbering of the shots shows the order of the action here. The female underside was particularly yellow. 2020
38158 PAIR the same pair, after the aggression had finished. The yellower female is on the right. 2020

27186

F

a female, the underside of 27175. The three red rings are more suffused in phoebus than apollo, where the red rings are quite crisp with clear white centres.

2040

38194 HOSTPLANT the larval hostplant, Saxifraga aizoides (Yellow Mountain Saxifrage). 2020

 

31123_male_Valais, Switzerland_12Jul12

 

31188_male_Valais, Switzerland_12Jul12

 

27219_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul11

 

27175_female_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul11

 

38106_male_Alpes-Maritimes_4Jul15

 

38145_pair, male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15

 

38139_pair, female_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15

 

38122_pair_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15

 

38158_pair_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15

 

27186_female_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul11

 

38194_larval hostplant_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15