20th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
Clouded Apollo Sleeping on Its Vanilla-scented Orchid

The photo was taken during one of my wild orchid-hunting expeditions that took place within the Iron Gates Natural Park, Southwestern Romania. The sun was hiding behind the heavy clouds and the summer storm just stopped. I decided to take the last photos of the day, in a nearby meadow full of various species of wild orchids. To my surprise, I noticed the rare Clouded Apollo (Parnassius Mnemosyne) butterfly sleeping on the inflorescence of an Anacamptis × gennarii hybrid. Both protagonists, the orchid and the butterfly, are extremely rare encounters in Romania. These species are protected by law and subject to conservation measures due to their extremely low numbers. Having them together in the same shot was a unique, exceptional occasion. Anacamptis × gennarii orchid hybrid visited by the beautiful Parnassius mnemosyne butterfly. Anacamptis × gennarii is a rare, naturally occurring orchid hybrid that results from the cross between the parental species Anacamptis morio × Anacamptis papilionacea (Family Orchidaceae). The vanilla-scented inflorescence is used as a sleeping place for the beautiful and rare butterfly, Parnassius mnemosyne (Family Papilionidae), also known as the Clouded Apollo (Camera: Nikon D3).

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 05.2019
Date Uploaded: 11.2022
Photo Location: Drobeta-Turnu Severin, Mehedinți County, Romania
Copyright: © Nora De Angelli