Anthocharis cethura pima

Photo Life History: Anthocharis cethura pima

Habitat:  Desert Hills & Mountains; Desert Lowlands

Host Plants:  Caulanthus lasiophyllum utahensis; Streptanthella longirostris; Descurainia pinnata

Suitable Lab Host Plants: There is conflicting data on the effectiveness of Sisymbrium irio.  Jim Brock has had good luck with this plant in SE Arizona; whereas all my larvae from SW Utah and SE Nevada have died on it. 

How to Find Female Butterflies:  Click here.  Females sometimes tend to fly slower than males in search of the host plants.  (Unfortunately, males have also been known to fly to host plants as well [seeking females]).

Caring for Live Female Butterflies:  Nectaring techniques

Methods of Female Oviposition:  Open Screen Cages; Portable Cages

How to Find Eggs: Look on Lower Half of Plant; Isolated Host Plants.  Finding eggs on the ventral side of lower leaves is critical for this species.  If you locate 50 healthy host plants under this Creosote bush here, and only find 3 healthy host plants under that Creosote bush there, ignore these 50 plants and check those 3 plants.  Females are not necessarily partial to host plant densities.  They locate a group plants (large or small), lay an egg or two, and then fly off.  This is why looking on isolated host plants makes sense and optimizes time management.

How to Hatch Eggs:  Separate eggs individually  First instar larvae are aggressively cannibalistic with any eggs they find.

How to Find Caterpillars in the Field:  Look for Caterpillar Strip Patterns.  Last instar larvae strip down the flowers and fruits of the host plant.

How to Find Pupae in the Field: 

Caterpillar setups:  Open terrariums; Open Bucket

Larva to Pupa:  Larva Changes Color

Number of Broods per Year:  1

Overwintering Stage:  Pupa

Overwintering Strategies: Your Own Backyard; Refrigerator  (Overwinter for 120+ days)  Mist spray pupae about every 7 to 10 days during the last 45 days or so.

Post-Hibernation Strategies: Expose pupae to intermittant humidity similar to the final 45 days of overwintering.  Getting pupae to break diapause under ideal spring-like conditions is very hard in the lab.  If a pupa has broken diapause, it is possible to see the developing eyes  (See notes below.)

Avoiding Diapause Techniques:  

Disease Prevention:  Change out host plant and remove frass every five days or as needed. 

Emergence:  Emergence Container

Field Notes: If you are a nature lover looking for a fun butterfly to raise, you likely won't be interested in raising this butterfly.  Although it is relatively easy to raise from ovum to pupa, it can be quite frustrating to get pupae of this butterfly to emerge into an adult butterfly within several years.  This is a desert butterfly built for survival in extreme xeric conditions; which is good for the butterfly; but not necessarily a lot of fun for those new to rearing.  Pupae that I carefully overwintered with intermittant humidity emerged within two to eleven years with the bulk of them emerging from years 3 to 5!  Nevertheless, it is quite an experience to witness one of these "jewels of the desert" that do emerge!!