Apatura ilia (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)


Apatura ilia: Male (eastern Swabian Alb 2008) [N] Apatura ilia: Males at excrements (eastern Swabian Alb) [N] Apatura ilia: Male (eastern Swabian Alb 2008) [N] Apatura ilia: Female [S] Apatura ilia: Female (f. clytie) [S] Apatura ilia: Female Apatura ilia: Female [S] Apatura ilia: Female [S] Apatura ilia: Female (f. clytie) [S] Apatura ilia: Female [S] Apatura ilia: Male lower side [S] Apatura ilia: Freshly deposited egg (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany, early July 2011) [N] Apatura ilia: Egg with starting discoloration (dark distal ring) [S] Apatura ilia: Ovum after some days. Contrary to to Apatura iris the dark ring is located distally and not basally. [S] Apatura ilia: Ovum [S] Apatura ilia: Ovum just a day prior to hatching [S] Apatura ilia: Ovum shortly prior to hatching [S] Apatura ilia: L1 [S] Apatura ilia: L1 [S] Apatura ilia: L1 [S] Apatura ilia: L1 [S] Apatura ilia: L2-larva: Contrary to Apatura iris the head horns are distinctly furcated in this instar. [S] Apatura ilia: L3-larva in September (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany, 2010) [N] Apatura ilia: L3-larva in September (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany, 2010) [M] Apatura ilia: L3-larva in September (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany, 2010) [N] Apatura ilia: Hibernating larva [N] Apatura ilia: Hibernating larva (Schwäbisch Gmünd, Wetzgau, forest margin, December 2011) [N] Apatura ilia: Half-grown larva [S] Apatura ilia: Half-grown larva at aspen (seat pad visible) [N] Apatura ilia: Larva [S] Apatura ilia: Larva [S] Apatura ilia: Larvae portrait [S] Apatura ilia: Larva [S] Apatura ilia: Larva [N] Apatura ilia: Larva (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany, late May 2012) [N] Apatura ilia: Larva, head with horns [N] Apatura ilia: Larva (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany, late May 2012) [N] Apatura ilia: Pupa [S] Apatura ilia: Pupa [S] Apatura ilia: Larval habitat: aspen in a woodland margin (eastern Swabian Alb) [N] Apatura ilia: Oviposition place on the eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany: Twigs in gaps of single aspen at the forest edge. July 2011. [N] Apatura ilia: Oviposition place on the eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany, July 2011. [N]

Host plants:
The species feeds on Populus species, very rarely also on Salix. The caterpillars are usually found on Populus tremula (aspen).

Habitat:
Apatura ilia inhabits mostly warm moist lowland forests to about 600m above sea level (rarely up to more than 1000m above sea level, e.g. in the Southern Alps). The most common is Apatura ilia in floodplain or coppice woodlands. It also occurs in forest mires and even normal economical forests. The caterpillars can be found in sunny places in the inner and outer forest edges.

Life cycle:
The development is very similar to the Great Purple Emperor, but with a larger tendency to a very partial second generation especially in the south. The butterflies feed like the other Apatura and Limenitis (except for Limenitis reducta) only rarely on flowers, but willingly on animal droppings and other substrate on damp, unpaved roads. Oviposition takes place on the upper leaf surface, where the caterpillars also live. The second larval stage has clearly bifurcated head horns. Hibernation takes place as L3 on branches.

Endangerment: endangered

Endangerment factors:
North of the Alps, Apatura ilia is more local than Apatura iris at least above the plain to colline stage, even if butterfly may be more frequent in appropriate sites than Apatura iris (such as in low-lying alluvial forests). A risk factor for this species, like for many other species colonizing poplars, is the amplified greeted by ignorant conservationists felling of hybrid poplar trees in the landscape. These are often important habitats and instead of cutting down a new planting preferably with the native Populus nigra) is desirable at least at so far ecologically worthless places in the open fields (but not in valuable areas such as wetlands).
The main reason of the decline of Apatura ilia should be the increasing dark forest management, the direct elimination of aspen in forests and the almost total disappearance of riparian forests (e.g. in Germany).

Remarks:
The distribution ranges from Northern Spain through Central Europe (south to the Mediterranean Sea) and temperate Asia to China.



Apatura iris