Papilio indra pergamus

Photo Life HistoryPapilio indra pergamus

Habitat:  Cismontane California Chaparral

Host Plants:  Tauschia arguta; Tauschia parishii; Lomatium lucidum

Suitable Lab Host PlantsLomatium graveolens; Cymopterus terebinthinus calcareus; Lomatium parryi; Cymopterus terebinthinus petraeus

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;   Sometimes pergamus females will oviposit on a few of the stalks of Tauschia arguta that are somewhat apart and adjacent to the main stalks of the plant.  Eggs are laid on the ventral surface of leaves  necessitating the turning over every leaf.  Another key to finding eggs of pergamus on Tauschia arguta is to find host plant growing right in the heart of the chaparral.  Females have no problem laying eggs on these plants; which are not usually visible until you work your way to them.  This requires a long-sleeved shirt with the understanding that you might get scraped up by the Manzanita and Chemise.  Host plants can also be found along trails as well as adjacent to larger boulders found in the heart of the Chaparral. 

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.   If you are rearing pergamus on Taushia arguta, obtain fresh cuttings of host every three days as older cuttings lose nutritional value and larvae can get sick.  Another viable option is to utilize the potted plant method.

Larva to Pupa:  Larva purges and wanders.

Number of Broods per Year: 1

Overwintering Stage:  Pupa.  

Overwintering Strategies: Your Own Backyard; Refrigerator

Post-Hibernation Strategies: Expose Pupae to warmer temperatures; Long-Day Photoperiod; and High Humidity.

Avoiding Diapause Techniques:  

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 pergamus.