Papilio indra calcicola

Photo Life HistoryPapilio indra calcicola

Habitat:  Desert Hills and Mountains of SW Utah (Washington County), NW Arizona (West side Arizona Strip), and Southern Nevada.  Click here for better information on Utah populations.  Finding habitat oftentimes requires a certain degree of hiking to find host plants situated in washes and rocky outcoppings. 

Host Plants:  Lomatium scabrum tripinnatum; Lomatium parryi

Suitable Lab Host PlantsLomatium graveolens; Cymopterus terebinthinus calcareus; Tauschia arguta

Caring for Live Female Butterflies:  Feed females regularly.

Methods of Female Oviposition:  Open Screen Cages;  This brief video shows a female indra laying an egg in an open screen cage.

How to Find Eggs:  Eggs on Peripheral Stalks; Seek out host plants that are exceptionally healthier than other sun-scorched plants within a population.  Many of these plants are growing between rocks, in washes, or at the base of a wash next to a reef creating  healthier roots than other plants.  Females will lay eggs on these healthier plants because they have a better chance of staying succulent and supporting the larva through to pupation.

How to Hatch Eggs:  Consolidate eggs into one container

How to Find Caterpillars in the Field:  Once you understand where Papilio indra females prefer to lay eggs, the key to finding caterpillars has a lot to do with understanding and recognizing the progressional change in caterpillar feeding damage and resting preferences as caterpillars progress through its instars.

Caterpillar Feeding Damage:  See this slide show.   Look for unique first instar skeletonizing chew marks on stalks where eggs are likely to have been laid.  Third instars rest at the base of the plant whereas late instar larvae "strip down" the host plant leaves; but leave the central stalk in tact.

Caterpillar Resting Positions:  See this slide show.  First instar indra larvae rest up-side-down on the stalks of its host plant.  Third instar larvae tend to move away from the periphery of the host plant to rest at its base.  Fourth and fifth instars rest at the base of the host or off the host altogether.

Caterpillar setups:  For first through fourth instars, I recommend using the Open terrariums or Open Bucket technique.  If you're only rearing a few fifth instar caterpillars, I recommend using a Closed Container--Papilio indra.  For more information, please see this video to see why I recommend using a closed container for later instars.   

Larva to Pupa:  Larva purges and wanders.

Number of Broods per Year: 1.  However, a small percentage of pupae will emerge immediately suggesting that local populations could evolve to bivoltinism if local host plants (i.e, Lomatium parryi in Leeds Canyon, Washington County, Utah) could support that.

Overwintering Stage:  Pupa.  

Overwintering Strategies: Your Own Backyard; Refrigerator

Post-Hibernation Strategies: Expose pupae to warmer temperatures; long-day photoperiod; and intermittent humidity.

Avoiding Diapause Techniques:  Although not reliable, by providing caterpillars with healthy host plant, pupae from SW Utah populations have a slight chance of avoiding hibernation and emerging immediately. 

Disease Prevention:  Critical for P. indra!  Some information is provided in Utah Lepidopterist

Emergence:  Emergence Container

Field Notes: Dr. Wayne Whaley has done extensive research on the entire Papilio indra complex.  Click here for section on Papilio indra calcicola.