False Apollo

Archon apollinus

أبولو كاذب

Picture Resource: By Zeynel Cebeci - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0Link

Status: Scarce

This genus Archon belonging to the family Papilionidae and the sub-family Parnassinae is found only in the eastern Mediterranean region and Palestine is the southernmost range in its distribution.

In the easternmost range of its distribution, deforestation and availability of food plants are the most critical factors determining their populations. This species is mostly found in semi-natural areas including olive orchards and grape growing areas, rocky slopes of mountains with low bushes and in open woodland.

It is a very beautiful butterfly having shiny white coloured wings with slightly transparent borders. The forewings have large black coloured ‘eyespots’ and red coloured ‘eyespots’ are seen on the hindwings. As the adults get older, due to the exposure to the sun, the red eyespots slowly turn their colour into orange. Also as the adult butterflies get older, they loose their scales on the wings, mostly the forewings, thereby making them look very transparent.

The adult butterflies are generally seen to fly during the mid-summer time and produce only one generation in a year. The females lay eggs during late summer which remain dormant all throughout the winter season in the ground and hatch during the spring of the following year.

The larvae feed on the plants of the Aristolochiae family and the larvae are usually not seen on the food plants as they remain hidden under the leaves which have been spun or woven into a cage-like structure. The larvae have a black body with orange spots. This Apollo species also exhibits a very interesting example of mimicry for protecting itself from its enemies!! Firstly the larvae have large orange spots on their body which confuses the enemy as they look like the eyes of another organism. The larvae and as well the adult butterflies have a very bad taste which helps in keeping away their enemies. This taste is accumulated in their body cells from certain chemicals present in the food plant and these are taken up by the larvae during their feeding stage.

Sightings: This species is mostly found in semi-natural areas including olive orchards and grape growing areas, rocky slopes of mountains with low bushes and in open woodland. In the easternmost range of its distribution, deforestation and availability of food plants are the most critical factors determining their populations.

Cool facts: wings partially transparent

Conservation Status: Least Concern