Here are three Papilionidae from Provence (south-eastern France). These three species are protected. So none of these butterflies were collected, simply photographed or filmed. For the same reason, and because they are vulnerable (and for two of these species, very localized), I do not give precise indications concerning the location of the biotopes. We will simply say that it is the Montagne de Lure and the Monts de Vaucluse.
Some videos will soon be added. Photos and videos date from the first half of June 2020.
The Montagne de Lure (summit : 1800 m asl)
Near the top (1600 m asl) :
The Monts de Vaucluseat 1200 m asl
Parnassius mnemosyne (Montagne de Lure)
Parnassius apollo (Montagne de Lure)
Papilio alexanor (Monts de Vaucluse, about 1200 m asl)
Brintesia circe in Luberon Mountain
And, finally, here is Brintesia circe who encourages me to place these photos on the excellent site The Insect Collectors' Forum and drink to the health of its animators!
Usually, P. machaon and I. podalirius are easily encountered on these two biotopes. This year, podalirius is less present and swallowtail machaon even less. As far as I was able to realize the situation correctly. I add that, in my experience (I come every year in June to this region), swallowtail is less and less frequent.
I add this: where I live, in the Luberon (40 km south of the Montagne de Lure, 550 m asl), every year I observe one or two podalirius hill-toping over the pool every day ( located on the edge of a mesa). None this year. And, in a month, I did not see more than 5 pass through the garden. No swallowtail observed. It is true that I have a lot of work and that I do not survey butterflies every day.
I finally saw much more alexanor (on a specific biotope) than podalirius or machaon. Overall, it's quite strange: some very common species less frequent this year and others incredibly abundant (like Brintesia circe).
It is said that alexanor is very localized because in the entire area in question, I only know two places where this butterfly flies, each place measuring approximately 200 m x 100 m. It makes exist the nourishing plant: Psychotis sp. Certainly, other places of the same kind exist in the region, but we must find them. In the same region, the two species of Zerynthia (Papilionidae) fly, polyxena in April, rumina in May. Both are also extremely localized. You can pass within 100 m of the biotope without seeing one. But these butterflies are then numerous in their corner of scrubland provided that aristoloches grow (but this is not a sufficient condition).
Here Zerynthia rumina, Montagne de Lure, May 2019.
Here is a view of the place where I live at the moment. In the background, the Luberon Mountain. Just under the photographer, a slope where rumina flies but within a very limited perimeter. On the entablature in the middle of the photo, two other rumina spots, each with a reduced surface area and away from the paths, right in the garrigue!
Fields with alignments are lavender fields. The previous photo dates from the beginning of June 2019, this one shows, a month later, the lavender in bloom. Of course, these lavenders attract many butterflies!
Here flies rumina (in May or June beginning) :
Zerynthia rumina from the biotope above (Saint-Martin-de-Castillon, Vaucluse, 550 m asl).
jmg absolutely stunning photos! Especially the mnemosyne! It must be one of the borders of local mnemosyne locations? Luberon mountains are not that far from Mont Ventoux, and French friend told me that at mont ventoux they haven’t found it yet, although it has very suitable habitats.
Concerning machaon and podalirius, perhaps it was already a bit too late for them? Or just in between the first and second generation? When I was in the Provence last year beginning of May the machaon and podalirius both all had strong flight wear. April was extremely hot this year, so it could have been that they all emerged really early, then may was a bit rainy so that might have slowed down the second generation emergence, whereas Alexanor with only one generation isn’t influenced by warm April weather.
I was in Switzerland two weeks ago, in Valais, to watch mnemosyne at 2000m height, and to my surprise there were not only dozens of mnemosyne but also very worn Apollos, and also the first sacerdos!
I have never seen the three Parnassius of Europe at the same location at the same time. The sacerdos was definitely too early, flying along a river that just came out of a snow field, but without doubt a sacerdos, two red dots on the upper wing, and very large compared to the apollos. I heard of Austrian valleys where apollos and sacerdos fly at the same time and also hybridise, but never thought that mnemosyne could be so late that it flies at the same time.
For P. machaon, the fact is that globally the butterfly is less and less frequent. In a month of presence in the Luberon, I saw only 2 or 3, while it was much more common in previous years.
Iphiclides podalirius has been reappearing clearly for a few days: probably, the second generation, the first having been very early (as is the case for other species).
Yesterday (July 6), I returned to the Montagne de Lure. The mnemosyne have completely disappeared. Apollo became rare at 1200 m but abounded at 1600. At the same altitude, I was lucky to see Nymphalis antiopa flying which, of course, is not a common butterfly.
In a fortnight, I will be in the Southern Alps at 1900 m (at least) and I hope to photograph sacerdos there.