Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Parnassius smintheus E. Doubleday
, 1847. Type locality: “Rocky Mountains”; defined as “vicinity of Rock Lake, [near Jasper] Alberta (53o27'N, 118.o16'W)” by J. Shepard (1984), Quaest. Entomol. 20(1): 40-41.
Explanation of Names
Smintheus (Σμινθευς), is one of the names used for Apollo in ancient Greece.
Butterflies of America
lists 8 subspecies, all in our area:
sternitzkyi McDunnough, 1937
olympianna Burdick, 1941
yukonensis Eisner, 1969
smintheus E. Doubleday, 1847
magnus W. G. Wright, 1905
maximus Bryk & Eisner, 1937
sayii W. H. Edwards, 1863
pseudorotgeri Eisner, 1966
Parnassius behrii W.H. Edwards, 1870 [= P. smintheus behrii (W.H. Edwards) Dyar, 1903] - is variously treated as a subspecies, or (especially in Californian butterfly treatments) as a distinct species.
Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 inches (4.5 - 6.4 cm).(1)
Antenna has alternate black and white rings. Upperside of forewing of females and most males with 2 red or yellow spots beyond the cell. In some males these spots are black.(1)
Often called by the name Parnassius phoebus, a closely related Eurasian species. Many people consider all North American populations to belong to that species, many prefer to separate them. Some authors split North American populations into more than one species; usually two or three, with the northernmost populations included in P. phoebus, and the rest in P. smintheus; or, the Sierra Nevada populations may be separated as Parnassius behrii. These regional "species" are best distinguished by where they are found.
mountains from California, Utah, and New Mexico north into southern Yukon.(1)
Open forests, meadows, grasslands.(1)
One flight June-August.(1)
Caterpillar hosts: Species of Stonecrop (Sedum) in the family Crassulaceae.
Perhaps also Saxifraga in family Saxifragaceae, though not reported for North American populations.
Adult food: Nectar from flowers, with Sedum and Asteraceae often favored.(1)
Males patrol close to the ground for receptive females. Females lay eggs singly on almost any surface. Caterpillars feed on leaves and occasionally flowers and fruits. Hibernate as eggs.(1)
Populations from high elevation and northern latitudes tend to average darker and smaller in size.