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The False Apollo (Archon Apollinus)

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Published on Mar 16, 2012

In the Muğla province of Turkey early spring (March - April) comes with an extraordinary butterfly called False apollo. The first description was in 1789 by Herbst. With a wingspan of 4.5 -- 5.5 cm the False Apollo is a small member of the family PAPILIONIDAE.
The wings are transparent and whitish with black, red and blue spots. The males are very evasive and hard to capture, the even more spectacular females sit more. They are found in open areas in forests and in olive groves.

The forewings are transparent and marmorate in whitish and black. On the wing leading edge there are two big black spots. There is a chain of little black spots at the margin. Between the chain of black spots and the big black spots there are some little red spots. The lower side is a copy of the upper side.
The hind wings are white to yellowish and partly transparent. There is a dark and hairy area around the body. There is a chain of big black spots going backwards with blue cores and red eyeshadows. The underside is whitish and a copy of upside, but there are some differences. There are no blue spots. The male is more pallid than the female.

The butterfly is notable for the very extensive scale free areas on the forewings. This increases with age, old specimens have nearly transparent forewings. The males lose much more scaling than the females. The females are usually flushed with extensive red mottling, but this is very variable. The loss of scales on the forewings makes the butterfly easy to distinguish on the wing. In flight it looks distorted by the obvious hind wing and the ghostly forewing.

The False apollo is a common appearance in the area around Dalyan in the Turkish province of Muğla. We were lucky enough to capture a couple mating at the cemetery of Okçular köyü and to see a female depositing her eggs at a hillside a bit further up.

The larvae feed on species of Aristolochia including A. poecilantha, A. parviflora, A. bodamae, A. hirta, A. bottae, A. auricularia, A. rotunda, A. sempervirens, A. maurorum and A. billardieri.

Distribution: The False Apollo (Archon apollinus) is a common butterfly of the Palaearctic ecozone (Europe and Asia). The distribution extend from Greece to Turkey and from Turkey to Iran.

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