Parnassius autocrator has a one-year life-cycle, which may be one reason for its rarity as the one-year cycle provides less opportunity to disperse (3). The flight period of this species begins in the second week of July and lasts around a month (2). Interestingly, the plant on which the larvae feed, Corydalis adiantifolia, is one which barely protrudes above ground when the time comes for the female to lay its eggs (4). So, instead of using its sight, the Apollo butterfly apparently finds its way to the plant by detecting the smell of the underground tubers. The female lays her eggs on the ground near the plants and when the larvae emerge in spring, they feed on the leaves of the plant (4).
Male and female Apollo butterflies differ in their behaviour; while females flutter close to the ground around the food plants, settling on stones or thistles to rest and taking flight at the slightest disturbance, the males are far more active and tend to fly up and down the steep slopes, soaring about a metre above the ground (2).