An Illustrated Guide to Geographic Variation
in the Indra Swallowtail Butterfly
and its Larval Host Plants


Wayne H. Whaley, Ph.D.

A composite of two papers presented at

The Annual Meeting of the Lepidopterists' Society
held in Sierra Vista, Arizona, Aug. 6-8, 1999
The Annual Meeting of the Pacific
Slope Section of the Lepidopterists' Society
held in Grants Pass, Oregon on June 23-25, 2000

Photographs by Wayne H. Whaley unless stated otherwise.

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Title slide Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia sp.)


For about 19 years I have studied the Indra Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio indra) emphasizing its biology and distribution. I live near the center of its range, a logistically ideal situation for long term studies of this nature. A lot of my work has emphasized Utah and neighboring states, but I have covered nearly the entire known range of the species.

I introduce you to the Indra Swallowtail butterfly. This species has no North American (maybe World) rival amongst the papilionids as far as its geographic variation. Some of this variation is illustrated in the following photographs.

P. i. kaibabensis (top) &

P. i. pergamus (left) &
(right) 5th instars


Lees Ferry specimen (top) &

Two 5th instars: black from west desert,
UT on Lomatium grayi and pink
from St. George, UT on L. scabrum

Cream-colored 5th instar from
Grapevine Mts, Nevada.
pergamus (left) and
St. George, UT (calcicola?) (right) on
T. arguta and L. parryi, respectively.
Photo by: J. Lagrone