Friday, May 20, 2011

Clodius Parnassian

Clodius Parnassian
The caterpillar of Clodius Parnassian is generally black, covered with short black hair, and marked with a row of orange or yellow spots along the bottom of each side. Caterpillars from high altitude may be grayish brown to grayish pink, shaded with yellow and marked with black. The black, spotted form is believed to mimic a poisonous centipede while the high altitude form is colored to camouflage with its environment. Both strategies provide protection from predators.
Clodius Parnassian
Clodius Parnassian is fairly large, with a wingspan of 2 to 3 inches. It has a black body and black antennae. The upperside of the wings is white to creamy white. The forewing has three dark gray to black bars on the leading edge; the outer edge and tip are marked with varying amounts and shades of gray, in striated bars or checks. Portions of the forewing may appear transparent. The hindwing is mostly white, may be lightly shaded with gray stripes or checks, and marked with two red (rarely orange, yellow, or black) spots and/or a red bar. The underside of the wings is similarly marked. Females, if they have mated, have a white pouch (called a sphragis) at the tip of the abdomen. Placed there by the male, it contains the sperm and important nutrients and prevents the female from mating again.

Clodius Parnassian

There is one generation caterpillars of Clodius Parnassian each summer. Butterflies have two tiny hooks on the surface of the forewing which provide assistance when emerging from the silk cocoon. Eggs overwinter and the caterpillars emerge in the spring. At high elevations, the caterpillars may overwinter as well, thus requiring two years to fully develop. Adults generally fly from May through July. Butterflies exhibit a strong, high flight pattern. Only three species of Parnassians occur in North America, two of which occur in Idaho. It can be found in open woodlands, alpine meadows, forest edges, and in moist forests.


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