Parnassians belong to the swallowtail family, and can be found in some parts of WY, MT, WA, CA, OR, ID, and UT, as well as some parts of British Columbia. Parnassius smintheus, another species of Parnassian, also has a range found in Wyoming. At first glance, these two species are very similar in appearance, but take a closer look! An easy way to distinguish each species is by checking their antennae. On P. clodius, the antennae are entirely black, but P. smintheus have banded antennae that are alternating black and white (Brock & Kaufman, 2003, p.44).
During the mating season for these butterflies, males patrol areas in search of females. Once they mate, males attach a sphragum, a plug to prevent a female from mating with other males. The larger the sphragum, the less likely a different male will attempt to mate with the female (Wedell, 2005). Females then lay their eggs on host plants that will become a resource for the larva. In the Grand Tetons, P. clodius eggs can be found on Dicentra uniflora.
Written by Anna Cressman
PC: Logan Crees