Euphydryas anicia wheeleri

Photo Life HistoryEuphydryas anicia wheeleri

Habitat:  Mountain Canyons; Pinyon Juniper; Utah's West Desert Mountain Ranges.  (Populations of this butterfly can be found in the Great Basin.)

Host Plants:  Castilleja chromosa; Penstemon eatonii; Penstemon humilus

Suitable Lab Host Plants:  Most any species of paintbrush (Castilleja) or Penstemon.

Caring for Live Female Butterflies:  Feed females regularly.

Methods of Female Oviposition:  Portable Cages.

How to Find Eggs:  Females lay eggs in large clutches on host plants.  Look on the ventral side of leaves towards the lower portion of the host plant.

How to Hatch Eggs:  Consolidate eggs into one container.

How to Find Caterpillars in the Field:  To find gregarious pre-diapause larvae, look for webbing (almost like a spider web) on the plant.  Post-diapause larvae can be found either resting at the base of the host, off the plant altogether, or feeding on host plant flowers or leaves .  Keep in mind that once you find one post-diapause larva, start looking closer in that general area as post-diapause larvae disperse roughly within 100 feet (or so) from where the pre-diapause larvae fed.  Euphydryas anicia larvae can begin feeding on its host plants as soon as the host breaks ground in the spring.

Caterpillar setups:  For pre-diapause larvae, I recommend using the open terrariums or open bucket technique.  Overcrowding is not generally an issue since larvae are gregarious in nature.  For lab rearing in the late spring, I like finding Penstemon eatonii plants that have already flowered and have cupped leaves.  I place cut-out clutches of eggs on the leaves of Penstemon cuttings of these plants and let the eggs hatch and set up a webbed nest/feeding station right on the plant.  (Handling hatchling first instar larvae is not necessary.)  For post-diapause larvae, see Post-Hibernation Strategies below.

Larva to Pupa:  Caterpillar silks to leaf or twig; creates and attaches cremaster; hanging as a J before pupating.

Number of Broods per Year: 1

Overwintering Stage:  Third or Fourth Instar Larva.  

Overwintering Strategies: Your Own Backyard.

Post-Hibernation Strategies: When you feed post-diapause larvae after overwintering, if you're only rearing a few caterpillars, I highly recommend isolating caterpillars from sibling caterpillars using the twin cup method (or similar) in order to avoid re-diapause--an extremely common situation with checkerspots.  (See this video for more information on the twin cup method.)  Jacque Wolfe recommends exposing post-diapause larvae to cold overnight temperatures.

Avoiding Diapause Techniques:  Not applicable.

Disease Prevention:  For post-diapause larvase, change out host plant and remove frass every two to three days using the twin cup method.

Emergence:  Emergence Container

Field Notes: