Serbia is a country of reach, yet not well explored biodiversity, with total of 194 butterflies' species. In many places mosaic habitats and traditional agriculture were ensuring stable butterfly populations over the years, but growing modern agriculture, tourism and industry on one side, and depopulation on the other have a great impact on these species.
To underline the importance to preserve some butterfly species Serbia Post issued four bright stamps depicting the beauty of these insects. StampNews.com encourages our readers to add these original philatelic items to their topical stamp collections.
Zerynthia polyxena (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775), Southern Fastoon is a thermophilous species that belongs to Papilionidae family. Butterflies have a wingspan of 45 do 55 mm. Males and females have similar pattern, but females are bigger and usually have lighter colours.
There is one generation a year. Butterflies are active up to three weeks and their flight-time is in April and May. Females lay about fifty eggs, singly or in small groups, at host-plants.
During May and June caterpillars feed only on plants from the family Arystolochia – birthwort, where a large number of them can often be seen. The young caterpillars feed at first on flowers and young shoots, while after the second moult they feed on leaves. Adult caterpillars are long up to 35 mm. Pupae is formed on the stems of host plants. It hibernates as a pupa, and in April next year a new generation of butterflies is hatched.
In Serbia it is on the list of strictly protected species, it is included in European Red List of Globally Threatened Animals and Plants and Red Data Book of European Butterflies (Rhopalocera) of Council of Europe where it is treated as vulnerable species. Zerynthia polyxena is threatened primarily by global environmental pollution, excessive use of insecticides, converting uncultivated into arable land as well as by burning of dry grass and other plants where their pupae are wintering.