Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
First described in 1855 by Édouard Ménétries
as Parnassius clodius
Butterflies of America
lists 9 subspecies in our area:
strohbeeni Sternitzky, 1945 "apparently extinct"
clodius Ménétriés, 1855
claudianus Stichel, 1907
pseudogallatinus Bryk, 1913
incredibilis Bryk, 1932
sol Bryk & Eisner, 1932
baldur W. H. Edwards, 1877
altaurus Dyar, 1903
menetriesii Hy. Edwards, 1877
There is also something called the "S Sierra Nevada Segregate", which is apparently not a full subspecies
The Clodius Parnassian is the only parnassian whose distribution is restricted to North America (1) [
depending on recognition of American P. smintheus & P. behrii
as full species or as part of P. phoebus]
P. clodius is very similar to P. felderi from Asia, and is closely related to Parnassius eversmanni, which is smaller, yellower, and which is found further north in Canada & Alaska and across Asia.
P. clodius is distinguished from the Sierra Nevada / Rocky Mountain / Phoebus Parnassians (Phoebus smintheus / behrii / phoebus) in having the dark antennae not ringed in white (sometimes faintly in gray), and in not having red or yellow spots on the front wings. The large dark spots in the discal cell of the front wing are gray to dark gray, not black. In the Sierra Nevada / Rocky Mountain / Phoebus Parnassians the antennae are alternately ringed white and black, there is usually red (or occasionally yellow instead) near the end of the discal cell (sometimes more obvious on the under side than the upper side), and the large dark spots in the discal cell are distinctly black. The shape of the sphragus on the females is also different.
From California and Utah north into British Columbia and Alberta. Absent from Southern Rockies of south-central Wyoming, Colorado, and northern New Mexico.
Forest edges at sea level in Northwest, cool mountains and shaded canyons and ridges in drier parts of range.(1)
Overwinters as caterpillar in decaying leaf litter. Pupates in thin silken cocoon in spring.(1)
species serve as main host plants.(1)
; perhaps also Corydalis
or other genera of family Fumariaceae
The females of Parnassius have a sphragis that is present after mating. It is formed from a hard waxy secretion made by the male during mating and functions to prevent other males from mating with the female afterwards. See:
"Observations on the Biology of Parnassius clodius (Papilionidae) in the Pacific Northwest
" by D. V. McCorkle & P. C. Hammond, Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 39(3), 1985 pp. 156-162.