N A T U R K U N D L I C H E S   I N F O R M A T I O N S S Y S T E M

Parnassius (Parnassius) mercurius Grum-Grshimailo, 1891

(zoological nomenclature: valid name, available)

General information:

Parnassius mercurius Grum-Grshimailo, 1891: 445-446.
Type locality: in regione Amdo dicta, in montibus ad Sinin lecta [China, E-Qinghai, Amdo region, Laji Shan S Xining / Gumbum, in Myn-da-sha & Gui-dai-Sha valley, see Grieshuber et al. 2007]
Type: Syntypes: 1 , Coll. Gr. Gr., Amdo. 1890, 1 , Amdo./Liang-tcha-sien, Sinin Alps. 12,300 ft. 22.6.90, coll. Gr. Gr., in coll. NHM, London (Ackery 1973).

Synonyms, misspellings, wrong determinations, etc.:
The taxon Parnassius mercurius Grum-Grshimailo, 1891 is mostly treated as a subspecies of Parnassius jacquemontii Boisduval, 1836 only (Häuser et al. 2005, Savela 2015). It is therefore uncertain, which of the following taxa really belong to mercurius, to jacquemontii or are infrasubspecific only.

Parnassius tibetanus Ruhl, 1892: 99.
Parnassius mercurius cyrnus Fruhstorfer, 1906: 139.
Parnassius mercurius jupiterius Bang-Haas, 1933: 262.


: China, Qinghai, Yushu, 3500 m, 2008.07, coll. Michael Kurz underside: China, Qinghai, Yushu, 3500 m, 2008.07, coll. Michael Kurz    
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view

Description of adults: Examined 1 . Wing expanse: 43.4 mm. Head on upperside with mixed black and white scaling; face with long distant, grey-white and black, hair-like scales; eyes big, oval, brown; palpi directed ahead, only slightly longer than head, laterally with white scaling, dorsally with long black, basally mixed white, hair-like scales; antennae well 1/4 of forewing length, distinctly ringed black and white; antennal bulb black; patagia, tegulae and anterior part of thorax densely covered with long, grey-white, hair-like scales; thorax laterally and posteriorly only scarcely scaled; forewing upperside nearly completely covered with scales, chalk-white, at basis and along anterior and inner margin blackish irrorated; broad black crosswise spots distad of middle of cell and at discus; postdiscally, between R1 and R-stem, as well as between M1 and M2 indistinct black, red centered spots; an indistinct, dark grey spot anterior to middle of inner margin; a broad, undulate, grey submarginal fascia across nearly the whole wing width; in a broad belt, outer margin irrorated with narrow black scales, not completely covering the wing membrane and therefore giving a grey impression; distal end of veins black; fringe chalk-white, broad spotted black at distal ends of veins; hindwing upperside also chalk-white; inner margin in a broad belt black nearly to anal angle, with inwardly directed, tooth-like emarginations in center of cell, at discus and postdiscally; at costal margin, close to basis, a round black spot, often centered red; a big, round, black, red centered spot each medially at anterior margin and postdiscally between M1 and M2, almost reaching M3; a submarginal row of grey to black, broad lunulae between veins; outer margin with indistinct grey spots at distal ends of veins; fringe chalk-white, black at distal ends of veins; underside of wings scaled, but on forewings only with narrow scales, not covering the wing membrane and therefore with fatty gloss; drawings of forewing underside like on upperside; hindwing underside also similar to upperside, but broad black inner margin with big red, partly white centered spots; spots in middle of anterior margin and postdiscally between M1 and M2 also with big white center; submarginal row of lunulae and black spots at distal ends of veins broadly attached grey; underside of thorx and legs downwards to femora densely covered with long, grey-white hair-like scales; tibiae and tarsi scarcely scaled brown-white; abdomen black, dorsally scarcely, ventrally densely covered with long, grey-white, partly mixed black hair-like scales.


The taxon is known only from China: Qinghai and Thibet. Here, it has been reported from a height of apr. 3500-3800 m a.s.l. (Kurz & Kurz 2015).


The imagines fly in one generation in June and July (Kurz & Kurz 2015).

Worth knowing:


Ackery, P. R. 1973. A list of the type-specimens of Parnassius (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae) in the British Museum (Natural History). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) 29: 1-35, 1 pl.
Grieshuber, J., S. Churkin, B. Worthy & A. Lvovsky 2004. The types of Colias felderi Grum-Grshimailo, 1891, Colias lada Grum-Grshimailo, 1891 and Colias sifanica Grum-Grshimailo, 1891, with additional notes on the types of Colias diva Grum-Grshimailo, 1891 (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Helios V: 10-24, pl. 1, figs. 1-7.
Grum-Grshimailo, Gr. 1890. Lepidoptera nova in Asia centrali novissime lecta et descrita. Horae Societas Entomologicae Rossicae. Tom. XXV 445-465.
Häuser, C. L., J. Holstein & A. Steiner 2005. The Global Butterfly Information System. http://www.globis.insects-online.de. Last updated 15.02.2014 [online 05 August 2015].
Kurz, M. A. & M. E. Kurz 2000–2015. Naturkundliches Informationssystem. – URL: http://www.nkis.info [online 05 August 2015].
Savela, M. 2015. Lepidoptera and some other life forms. Parnassius Latreille, 1804. - available at: http://ftp.funet.fi/pub/sci/bio/life/insecta/lepidoptera/ditrysia/papilionoidea/papilionidae/parnassiinae/parnassius/ [online 05 August 2015].

Publication data:

Kurz Michael: 2015.08.06
Kurz Michael: 2016.02.04
not reviewed