Here are some pics of the earlier instar. I apologize that they are a little out of focus. I was having trouble with my camera at the time & had to send it in for repairs soon after. I will also send a few more in separate emails as we have had some problems with our server lately, if you send more than two at a time they disappear into cyberspace. … The Parnassian was found in Well County North Dakota. I cannot remember what year though. I am thinking it was around 2003-2004? I can look for my records if you need to know. It was also found in town & feeding on Dill & Parsley. This set pictures are of the instar just before the last.
Hi again Misty,
First, we really want to thank you for identifying an earlier Parnassian Caterpillar that we had misidentified on our site back in 2006. We are also thrilled to get your photos of both the earlier striped caterpillar instar and the final spotted instar. In an attempt to not add any more confusion, here is what we do know. Parnassian is the common name for all butterflies in the genus Parnassius. In Europe, this same genus is known as the Apollo Butterflies. The genus Parnassius is found in mountainous areas of the northern hemisphere where there are snowy winters. There are several North American species. Neither Parnassius clodius, nor Parnassius phoebus are listed as living in North Dakota in our Butterflies Through Binoculars (the West) book and P. clodius has the more western range. There is much variability in the adult coloration, which complicates identifications. BugGuide lists another species, Parnassius smintheus, the Rocky Mountain Parnassius that ranges “From New Mexico north along the Rocky Mountains and into southwest Alaska.” All that said, we are eager to get your update from the expert on the proper species identification of your specimen. Thank you so much for adding to the information on our site.
Update: Differing Opinion
Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 8:57 PM
The original ID of Cucullia intermedia (2006/01/20/probably-parnassus-butterfly-caterpillar-not- hooded-owlet-moth-caterpillar/ ) is probably correct, although moth caterpillars are not my area of expertise. In any case, these are not Parnassius larvae, which have fine black hairs (making them look somewhat velvety), all instars similar in appearance (black with rows of light spots), and feed on Sedum or Dicentra (not dill or parsley) locally. Please see this Parnassius smintheus from Idaho: http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1050616448038400999jjFBOj . North American Parnassian cats are rarely encountered, so a number of Internet photos are regrettably misidentified (such as http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=1346 ).
I hope the above information is helpful.