N A T U R K U N D L I C H E S   I N F O R M A T I O N S S Y S T E M

Aporia crataegi (Linné, 1758)

(zoological nomenclature: valid name, available)

General information:

Papilio (Danaus) crataegi Linnaeus, 1758: 467.
Type locality: Sweden
Type: Lectotype : "57. crataegi"; "Crataegi 758."; in coll. The Linnean Collections at The Linnean Society of London (pictures)

Synonyms, misspellings, wrong determinations, etc.:
Several forms of A. crataegi habe been described, whose taxonomical value however, is questionable. The following list mainly follows Savela (2014) and Ziegler (2014) and is arranged according to geographical aspects. It is neither complete nor authoritative.

Aporia crataegi augusta Turati, 1905. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi crataegi (Linné, 1758).
Aporia crataegi hyalina Röber, 1907. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi crataegi (Linné, 1758).
Aporia crataegi colona Krulikovsky, 1909: 293. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi crataegi (Linné, 1758).
Aporia crataegi basania Fruhstorfer, 1910. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi crataegi (Linné, 1758).
Aporia crataegi karavaevi Krulikovsky, 1911. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi crataegi (Linné, 1758).
Aporia crataegi fert Turati & Fiori, 1930. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi crataegi (Linné, 1758).
Aporia crataegi rutae Bryk, 1940. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi crataegi (Linné, 1758).
Aporia crataegi rotunda Eitschberger, 1971. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi crataegi (Linné, 1758).
Aporia crataegi transitoria Lempke, 1974. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi crataegi (Linné, 1758).
Aporia crataegi mauretanica Oberthür, 1909: 120. NW-Africa. Subspecies.
Aporia crataegi augustior Graves, 1925. Jordan, Transjordan, Israel. Subspecies.
Aporia crataegi iranica Forster, 1939. Armenia (highlands), Talysh Mts. Subspecies.
Aporia crataegi pazukii Gross & Ebert, 1975. Iran, Iraq. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi iranica Forster, 1939
Aporia crataegi pellucida Röber, 1907. Kopet-Dagh. Subspecies ?.
Aporia crataegi sheljuzhkoi Bryk & Meinhard, 1912. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi pellucida Röber, 1907.
Aporia crataegi zabulensis de Freina, 1974. Afghanistan. Subspecies ?.
Aporia crataegi tianschanica Rühl, 1893. Northern Tian-Shan, Inner Tian-Shan, Dzhungarsky Alatau, Ghissar, south Ghissar, Darvaz, Alai. Subspecies ?
Aporia crataegi naryna Sheljuzhko, 1910. Turkestan. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi tianschanica Rühl, 1893.
Aporia crataegi centralasiae Verity, 1911. China: Tian-Shan. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi tianschanica Rühl, 1893.
Aporia crataegi shugnana Sheljuzhko, 1925. West Pamirs. Subspecies ?.
Aporia crataegi pseudohippia Verity, 1911. Central Asia, Thibet. Subspecies ?
Aporia crataegi sibirica Verity, 1911. Siberia, Altai, Sayan, Transbaikalia, Far East, Kamchatka. Subspecies ?
Aporia crataegi sajana Verity, 1911. Southern Siberia: Sayan. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi sibirica Verity, 1911.
Aporia crataegi asiatica Meinhard, 1916. Siberia ?. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi sibirica Verity, 1911 ?.
Aporia crataegi banghaasi Bryk, 1921. Amur, Ussuri. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi sibirica Verity, 1911.
Aporia crataegi ussurica Kardakov, 1928. E-Siberia, Ussuri. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi banghaasi Bryk, 1921.
Aporia crataegi sordida Kardakov, 1928. Siberia ?. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi banghaasi Bryk, 1921.
Aporia crataegi gobiensis Forster, 1971. Mongolia. Subspecies ?.
Aporia crataegi atomosa Verity, 1908. Eastern China, Corea. Subspecies ?
Aporia crataegi var. atomosa ab. meinhardi Krulikovsky, 1909: 270. Unavailable infrasubspecific name.
Aporia crataegi sachalinensis Matsumura, 1925. E-Siberia: Sakhalin. Subspecies ?.
Aporia crataegi adherbal Fruhstorfer, 1910. Kuriles, Japan. Subspecies ?.
Aporia crataegi niphonica Verity, 1911. Japan. Junior subjective synonym of Aporia crataegi adherbal Fruhstorfer, 1910.


Description of adults: Examined: 1 . Wingspan: apr. 60 - 70 mm. Head black, hair-like scales on the head grey; eyes umber brown; labial palpi small, whitish-grey, with short, black, hair-like scales; antennae slightly shorter than 1/2 of forewing length, black, except for the white tip; thorax black, with whitish-grey to grey hair-like scales; upperside of wings hyaline, especially on forewings, except for the outer margin, yellowish-white to chalky scaled; apex and outermost margin of fore- and hindwings light grey; nervature prominent, light brown in proximal part of forewing, in distal third and in hindwing black; underside similar to upperside, hindwings except for the almost white anal margin more yellowish with slight greyish mottling; legs black, on upperside partly white with scarce, light grey, hair-like scales; abdomen black, with scarce and short, light grey, hair-like scaling.


The species is distributed throughout the Palaearctic region from NW-Africa and Europe through Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, NE-Iraq, N-Iran and Transcaucasia, as well as temperate Asia (between about 40° and 70° N) to Japan. In Europe, the species is missing in northern Scandinavia, on the Atlantic and Balearic islands, the Tyrrhenian archipelago, the Kyklades, the Ionian islands and Crete (Karsholt & Nieukerken 2013, Tolman & Lewington 1998). On the British Isles, the species is extinct. Vertically, A. crataegi has been found from near sea-level up to about 2000 m, exceptionally also 2600 m (Tolman & Lewington 1998). In eastern Anatolia, the species regularly reaches a height of apr. 2300 m (Hesselbarth et al. 1995).


A. crataegi prefers warm, sunny and bushy locations and sunny wood edges, but inhabits also richly structured, cultivated landscape. The imagines fly especially on flowering meadows (dry and wet) or around tall herb vegetaion (Kurz & Kurz 2015). Some tendency for inland migration has been realized too (Tolman & Lewington 1998). The flight time of the imagines lasts from May till early August, depending on the altitude (Kurz & Kurz 2015).
On a certain place, the animals emerge during about 10 days at every daytime. Proterandry is predominating (Hesselbarth et al. 1995). Daily activity starts at about 9:00 a.m. and lasts till about 5:00 p.m. (Kurz & Kurz 2015). The flight of the animals is cumbersome to gliding (Hesselbarth et al. 1995). In central Europe, the imagines feed on Vicia cracca, Trifolium pratense or Carduus defloratus (Kurz & Kurz 2015), in Turkey, Vicia cracca stenophylla, Medicago sativa, but also Anchusa azurea, Anchusa leptophylla incana, Echium vulgare, Echium italicum, Salvia sp., Onopordum anatolicum, Securigera varia and Colutea cilicica have been observed as nectar plants (Hesselbarth et al. 1995). The animals suck on the blossoms with closed wings. They often aggregate on puddles for water uptake, but also suck on slurry or carrion. The animals spend the night unprotected, often gregarious, sitting on stalks, blades of grass or in the crowns of fruit-trees (Hesselbarth et al. 1995).
During courtship, the flies towards a passing and flies around it, so that the wings of both touch each other. At first, the goes on straight ahead, then flies upwards, being followed by the (sometimes also by several ones). Prior to mating, the sits down parallel to the , bends its abdomen sidewards and cramps to the . Then it turns around by 180° and takes the wings of the between its own. Flying together however, the is leading. Having copulated already, the repels further approaches of by spreading its wings and lifting and lowering its abdomen. 4-5 days after mating, egg depositing starts. In doing this, the wings are spread partly. Eggs are deposited in several clutches of about 20 - 180 eggs each, mostly on the leaf upperside. Distal leaves on the sunny side are preferred (Hesselbarth et al. 1995).
The abundance of the animals differs greatly from year to year. The species is very sensitive to negative influences of the weather especially during egg deposition and during the early larval stage prior to hibernation. After hibernation, polyhedrous viruses and parasites decimate the population. The latter are normally polyphagous and are dependant also on other hosts for their annual development cycle. Therefore, these hosts also influence the population density of A. crataegi by their own abundance (e.g. Euproctis chrysorrhoea or Lymantria dispar). Hyperparasites also exhibit some influence. Nevertheless, outbreaks of A. crataegi can be observed from time to time. This may lead to inland migrations which can reach a length of 5 km and a width of 500 m (Hesselbarth et al. 1995).

Stages in development:

Description of early stages following Hesselbarth et al. (1995):

Egg. The egg is slender, oval, upright and yellow. It possesses 13 longitudinal ribs, of which 7 (seldom only 6) reach the micropyle plate and form some kind of inflated chimney above it.

Larva. The larvae emerge 2-3 weeks after egg deposition. The egg shell is not or only partly consumed after emerging. The animals live in small groups and, sitting side by side, sceletonize the leaves by rasping frass which wither hereby. After about 3-4 weeks, the second moulting takes place. Afterwards the larvae, now being about 6 mm long, begin hibernation. For that purpose, a common nest constructed from partly consumed leaves is spun. Therein, the animals rest singly or in small numbers in small white cocoons. With the beginning foliation in spring, the larvae begin to feed again and make vast spinnings on young twigs, which also serve as protective cover during bad weather. After the fourth molt, the animals finish to live gregarious. They feed much and 4-5 weeks after their awakening from hibernation, they are fullfed. The larva is ash-grey, black on dorsum, with two orange-red, broad lateral stripes. It bears a short cover of hairs with single longer hairs (Forster & Wohlfahrt 1976). Utilized plants are various Rosaceae, especially Prunus spinosa, Prunus armeniaca, Prunus dulcis, Prunus divaricata, Crataegus monogyna, Crataegus laciniata, Pyrus, Malus, Cydonia oblonga and Sorbus (Hesselbarth et al 1995).

Pupa. Examined: 5 exuviae. The pupa is attached to a branch of the foofplant. It is about 22-25 mm long, slender, light greenish-yellow to whitish. On the ventral side, it bears a longitudinal narrow black stripe from head to cremaster, being somewhat broader on abdomen. Numerous small black dots are found along the edges of the wing sheaths and along the entire dorsal side, few also on the surface of the wing sheaths. On the back, laterally, there is a delicate yellow line on each side of the abdomen, ending at the cremaster. Pupation takes place on the weather-averted side of the stem or the branches, but also on rocks. The pupal stage lasts about 14-17 days.


In Europe and the middle East, the species is unmistakable, taking into account the size of the animals and the hyaline wings devoid of markings except for the black nervature. In China and eastern Asia however, where numerous other Aporia-species occur, A. crataegi is best distinguished from them, especially the otherwise very similar Aporia potanini (Alphéraky, 1892), by the absence of a yellow spot at the base of the hindwing underside. Also quite similar appears to be Parnassius (Driopa) stubbendorfii Ménétriés, 1849, but this species has a quite different shape of the hindwings, their inner margin being black.


Chromosome number (haploid): 25 (-26) (Hesselbarth et al. 1995, following various authors).

Worth knowing:

The larva of A. crataegi had earlier become a serious pest sometimes on outbreaks on fruit trees. Such an outbreak is maybe described also by Theodor Storm in his novel "Der Schimmelreiter", when, aware of the coming disaster, he writes of "wie ein Schnee, ein groß Geschmeiß" (like snow, a big vermin) and of "Blutregen" (blood rain). The big white imagines of A. crataegi give off a trop of blood-red urine after emerging from the pupa, prior to take off, and in an outbreak, this might really look like "blood rain".


Forster, W. & Th. Wohlfahrt: Die Schmetterlinge Mitteleuropas, Bd. 2 Tagfalter, 2. Aufl. 1976, Franckh´sche Verlagshandlung, W.Keller & Co., Stuttgart
Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae, Ed. X. (Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.) Holmiae. Systema Nat. ed. 10 i-ii + 1-824.
Hesselbarth, G., H. van Oorschot & S. Wagener 1995. Die Tagfalter der Türkei. 1. 754 pp. Bocholt, Selbstverlag Sigbert Wagener.
Karsholt, O. & E. J. van Nieukerken 2013. Pieridae. In - Karsholt, O. & E. J. van Nieukerken (eds.). Lepidoptera, Moths. – Fauna Europaea version 2.6.2, http://faunaeur.org/ [online 11 August 2015].
Kurz, M. A. & M. E. Kurz 2000–2015. Naturkundliches Informationssystem. – URL: http://www.nkis.info [online 11 August 2015].
Savela, M. 2014. Lepidoptera and some other life forms. Aporia Hübner, [1819]. - available at: http://www.nic.funet.fi/pub/sci/bio/life/insecta/lepidoptera/ditrysia/papilionoidea/pieridae/pierinae/aporia/index.html [online 10 May 2015].
Storm Theodor: Der Schimmelreiter, Reclam Universal-Bibliothek, Nr. 6015 [2], Stuttgart
The Linnean Society of London 2014. The Linnean Collections. - available at: http://www.linnean-online.org/. [online 10 May 2015].
Tolman T. & R. Lewington (1998): Die Tagfalter Europas und Nordwestafrikas, Kosmos-Naturführer, aus dem engl. übersetzt und bearbeitet von Matthias Nuß, Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co., Stuttgart.
Ziegler, H. 2014. Aporia crataegi. url: http://www.euroleps.ch/seiten/s_art.php?art=pier_crataegi [online 10 May 2015].

Publication data:

Kurz Michael: 2011.03.08
Kurz Michael: 2014.04.07
Kurz Michael: 2015.08.12
not reviewed