Parnassius mnemosyne

Clouded Apollo

Parnassius mnemosyne
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Parnassius mnemosyne
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The clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) is a butterfly species of the family of swallowtail butterflies (Papilionidae) found in the Palearctic realm. Clouded Apollos inhabit meadows and woodland clearings with plenty of flowering plants, both in the lowlands and in the mountains. It is not usually found at altitudes above 1500 m except in the Central Asian mountains where it is also known from higher altitudes.

Clouded Apollo

Parnassius mnemosyne
Local Pest Control



Scientific classification

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Its range of distribution extends from the Pyrenees, across the Central Massif, the Alps, and the Carpathians as far as central Asia. It inhabits all European countries including Norway, where it appears rarely and only in certain places. A subspecies lived in Denmark, but is now extinct. A great number of geographical races and individual forms are distinguished in this extensive region. The most striking specimens include the dark race from the eastern Bavarian Alps (subspecies hartmanni); form melania has the most pronounced dark colouring. The paper of Dr. I.N. Bolotov and colleagues (2013) summarizes data on the northern localities of Parnassius mnemosyne, which are mostly situated in the Russian Federation and gives a thorough description of the species' northern range location. It is shown that the northernmost populations in the exist within the karst landscapes in the north of White Sea-Kuloi Plateau (between 65°35' and 66°03' N) in the downstream of the Soyana and Kuloi rivers and in the north of Timan Highland (66°10' N) along the shore of Kosminskoe Lake (the Pechora River basin). Northern limits of the clouded Apollo's range appear to be strongly determined by the distribution of its larval host plants (primarily Corydalis solida and the role of climate and relief seem to be of minor importance. Many Russian populations inhabit the state nature reserve territories: Kizgi Scerries Reserve (Karelia Republic), Pinega and Soyansky reserves (Arkhangelsk Oblast), Pechoro-Ilychsky and Belaja Kedva reserves (Komi Republic).


The clouded Apollo is locally common in some places in central Europe. The female lays whitish eggs with a granular surface. The caterpillar feeds only on sunny days, otherwise it is hidden under leaves or stones. The blunt-ended chrysalis lies on the ground in a light spun covering. The caterpillars feed exclusively on Corydalis species. To prevent the continuing disappearance of this butterfly from many places in central Europe, it is now protected in some regions. They inhabit small patches and individuals move from patch to patch and conservation of a network of patches is required to maintain the gene pool.


The species was named in the classical tradition for Mnemosyne the mother of the nine Muses