North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Sierra Nevada Parnassian (Parnassius behrii)

Sierra Nevada Parnassian (Parnassius behrii W.H. Edwards)

Wing span: 1 15/16 - 2 1/16 inches (4.9 - 5.3 cm).

Identification: Upperside of forewing with 2 black spots and 1-3 small yellow or orange spots along front edge. Hindwing with 2 round yellow or orange spots. Hairs on abdomen light yellow.

Life history: 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.

Flight: One flight mainly mid-July to early September.

Caterpillar hosts: Stonecrop (Sedum) in the Crassulaceae family.

Adult food: Nectar from flowers of Sedum and Asteraceae family.

Habitat: Rock slides, alpine tundra, and stream edges.

Range: Sierra Nevada of California.

Conservation: Species has small range and is subject to random climatic events.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G3, G4 - Very rare or local throughout its range or found locally in a restricted range OR Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Management needs: None noted.


Garth, J.S. and J.W. Tilden. 1986.California Butterflies. University of California 
     Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. 246 pp, 24 plates.

Opler, P.A. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies.  Houghton-Mifflin Co., 
     Boston, Mass. 540 pages, 44 color plates.

Shepard, J. and T.R. Manley. 1998. A species revision of the Parnassius phoebus 
     complex in North America (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). Pages 717-726 IN: 
     Emmel, T.C., editor. 1998. Systematics of Western North American Butterflies. 
     Mariposa Press, Gainesville, Fla. 878 pp.

Author: Paul A. Opler

Sierra Nevada Parnassian (Parnassius behrii)
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