Archon apollinus (Herbst, 1798)

Archon apollinus: Female (e.l. Samos) [S] Archon apollinus: Female (e.l. Samos) [S] Archon apollinus: Female [S] Archon apollinus: Female - hind wing-upper side [S] Archon apollinus: Female-lower side [S] Archon apollinus: Female - feigning death [S] Archon apollinus: Male [S] Archon apollinus: Male [S] Archon apollinus: Male - portrait [S] Archon apollinus: Young larvae in a shared webbing (Samos, May 2009) [N] Archon apollinus: Young larva (Samos, May 2009) [N] Archon apollinus: Larva in penultimate instar(Samos, May 2009) [N] Archon apollinus: Larva in last instar (Samos) [M] Archon apollinus: Larva in last instar (Samos) [M] Archon apollinus: Larva in last instar [S] Archon apollinus: Fully-grown larva: many individuals (but not all) show some white flecks als additional marking [S] Archon apollinus: Pupa [S] Archon apollinus: Pupa dorsal [S] Archon apollinus: Aristolochia bodamae with larvae in a olive grove in Samos [N] Archon apollinus: Plant with larval shelters [N] Archon apollinus: Larval shelter (Samos, May 2009) [N] Archon apollinus: Habitat in an open olive grove in Samos. In the background mount Kerkis (Kerketefs) [N] Archon apollinus: Habitat in an other place in Samos (May 2009) [N]

Host plants:
Aristolochia species such as Aristolochia bodamae (= Aristolochia hirta) in Samos.

Archon apollinus colonizes extensive cultural landscapes such as olive groves, orchards, roadsides and other places with the larval host plant. Archon apollinus is in most cases syntopical with Zerynthia cerisy which apears about two or three weeks later.

Life cycle:
The butterflies appear in March and April, rarely already in late February or even in early May. Caterpillars can be found in April and May. They live young often gregarious in leaf webs, older then individually in spun leaf bags, which is unique for European swallowtail butterflies. I met many larvae of all instars together with young caterpillars and adults of Zerynthia cerisy in early May 2009 in Samos on still many sites. The animals pupate in a loose weave just below the soil surface. The pupa often overwinters twice or even more.

Endangerment factors:
Archon apollinus is highly vulnerable at the few European sites. In particular, the intensification of agriculture with massive herbicide use in vineyards, olive groves, etc. leads to the decline of the butterfly. So I watched in Samos, where the caterpillar was observed still quite common, although not in high abundance, numerous cases of sprayed Aristolochia plants which wasted away.

Archon apollinus is in Europe almost exclusively known from some eastern Aegean islands (Greece): Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Kos. In Rhodes, Archon apollinus is probably extinct (if it was ever native there), as well as possibly near Thessaloniki (Northern Greece). In addition, evidence is known from Bulgaria. Archon apollinus is slightly less scarce from Turkey (also in the European part and close to the border in northeastern Greece) across Israel to northern Iran. In Asia Minor it is in places even common.