Churkin’s Apollo

Scientific Name
Parnassius davidovi
Specie in
Parnassius davidovi, male, Moldo Tau, Kyrgyzstan - V. Pletnev
Parnassius davidovi, male, Moldo Tau, Kyrgyzstan – V. Pletnev


The genus Parnassius, known commonly as Apollos, comprises of 54 species. Three of these are endemic to North America, a further 2 are found both in North America and the Palaearctic, and the remainder are distributed variously across Europe and temperate Asia.

Parnassius are instantly recognisable as a genus, having rounded translucent whitish wings that in most species are adorned with prominent white-centred red ocelli. Unlike most other Papilionidae they have short antennae with non-recurved tips.

Many Parnassius species are exceedingly rare and have a very localised distribution.

Parnassius davidovi is endemic to the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.


This species breeds on rocky mountainsides and limestone pavements, typically choosing sites where there are flat boulders on which they can bask, and crevices or hollows in which they can hide during bad weather.

Parnassius davidovi, female, Moldo Tau, Kyrgyzstan - V. Pletnev
Parnassius davidovi, female, Moldo Tau, Kyrgyzstan – V. Pletnev


The larval foodplants are unknown but probably include Sedum and Sempervivum.

Adult behavior

Males sometimes imbibe mineralised moisture from damp ground, but in common with the females are more often seen in flight, or when nectaring at flowers, of which favourites include Sedum, and various thistles ad knapweeds.

The butterflies have a rapid flight, soaring effortlessly across mountainsides. Their robust and stiff wings make a distinct flapping noise as they fly past. In warm sunny conditions they fly actively from flower to flower, but will sometimes remain on a single flower-head for several minutes at a time. In cooler weather they often bask on lichen-encrusted rocks and boulders, on which they can maintain a very strong grip, even in very windy conditions.

Copulation takes place at about midday, and lasts for about 2 hours, or longer if weather conditions are cooler. During copulation the females develop a large chitinous structure called a sphragis on their abdomens, which seals the genital opening and prevents other males from mating with them.

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Butterfly of
Scientific Name
Parnassius davidovi

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