Phyllis' Indra Swallowtail [Papilio indra phyllisae] Rearing Images
On 5-11-2005 I visited Butterbredt Peak near Jawbone Canyon in Kern County. This is the type location for this
swallowtail and I hoped to find some early stages for rearing. After an exhaustive search, I was only able to locate 2
eggs. It was still too early in the season so I was probably lucky to find any at all. I was unsure if they were indra
or P. polyxenes coloro, but I took them home to see what would become of them. The image below shows one very fresh egg (light
cream colored, on the left), and another (on the right) orange-banded egg, which is about 50% mature.
On 6-5-2005, the two larvae had progressed well, but were looking suspiciously like P. p. coloro early stages. The image
below shows a mature 4th instar larvae preparing to molt. A careful examination of the photo reveals a slight hint of
the black and white bands through the partially transparent 4th instar skin, which is typical of 5th instar larvae. I had my hopes up...
The next day I was happy to find a freshly molted 5th instar Indra larva. 6-6-2005 The middle image shows both the 5th
and 4th instars together.
On 6-9-2005 the largest of the two was really putting on weight, eating arguta host. Its yellow spots were still the
same, but the white bands had changed to a pinkish color. It's really quite a striking color combination and these
photos don't really to it justice.
On 6-11-2005, I visited Butterbredt Peak again, in hopes of finding some more examples of field-matured larvae. After
another exhaustive 4+ hour search, I had found a total of 10 larvae; two 3rd instars, one 4th instar, and seven 5th
instars, from just molted to nearly mature. Images of what I found are below.
A 3rd instar larva with exceptionally light coloration (2 left images), compared to other indra larva. It is also
lighter than the other 3rd instar larva found nearby (right 2 images).
The first image below shows the 4th instar (sorry for the blur). The whole herd - all 10 larvae - are mostly
visible in the second photo. The third photo without the flash shows more of the true-to-life color. Note the lighter
middle band in the 5th instars, where the "saddle" of earlier instars would be. The fourth photo is a group of 5th instars
resting on a single sprig. 6-10-2005
The next day (6-11-2005) we go out into the sun for some different lighting. Hopefully the coloration can be more
accurately captured in the sunlight. First, a couple of shots of the largest 5th instar, top and side views. Then, 4
shots of the 3rd instar with the very light coloration. There seems to be more white markings on this one than any other
indra larvae I've found so far.
These images are of the original 2 larvae collected as eggs on 5-11-2005,
now one month later and near fully grown. They are probably ready to
purge and pupate soon. The photos were taken outside in the sunlight to
help bring-out the natural coloration. 6-11-2005
By 6-14-2005, a few of the larvae had purged and begun wandering. They were placed into a paper bag which was rolled
closed. This provides a dark place for them to pupate, and also allows the resulting pupae to easily be cut from the
paper bag for moving to an emerging enclosure. The top row shows the wandering larvae. Note that they still have their
pink-ish white color.
Row 2 shows some larvae in the paper bag, and a larva which has located a suitable place but has not spun its sling.
Note that it has lost its pink color and is now mostly black and white.
The bottom row shows another larva which is preparing to shed its final skin and pupate. Again, the pinkish color is gone.
These images, shot on 6-15-2005, show the remaining 8 larvae during a host plant change. Note that the 2 larvae in the
middle appear to be P. polyxenes coloro. The remaining photos show close-up views of the mature larvae.
On 6-23-2005, the last of the phyllisae larvae was preparing to pupate. These images show that larva, plus some images
of the others which had already finished. Note that the larvae were placed into a paper bag as soon as they purged and
began wandering. They seem to wander around the bag, often falling to the bottom, for 1-3 days before settling down to pupate.
Once "strapped-in", they can take from 2 to 4 days to complete pupation. When freshly pupated, they should be left alone
because they are extremely delicate and can easily be damaged. 1-2 days later, their outer shell hardens, providing much
better protection. After they've hardened, they can be removed from the bag by cutting the bag around the pupae. This
provides a nice substrate on which to write collecting data, and also to attach the pupae to the inside of a container
for storage while overwintering. These two rows of images were shot 6-23-2005.
These images were taken 6-19-2005
On 5-12-2006 this pair emerged. Unfortunately they were already emerged with wings expanded when I found them in
the morning so I was unable to photo document them emerging. The female with the narrow band is shown in the left two
photos, and the male is shown in the right two images.
These two turned out very nice. The male, Female and both are shown below, left and right, respectively. 5-24-2006
On 5-25-2006 I found this pupa looking like it was about ready to eclose. (Left picture). By 6-29-2006 it was fairly
clear that the bug was dead. It was stiff and light indicating that it had died and completely dried-out before it could
emerge. The left two photos show it was apparently fully developed but died for some reason.
Click here for more images of the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History's collection.
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