Papilio indra fordi

Ford's Swallowtail

This small swallowtail was described from the Granite Mountains northeast of Apple Valley after a collector - Robert Ford - found them there in 1951 and recognized that they were different. This isn't the only place to look for it, but it is the best-known. Fordi also flies in the Coxcomb Mountains in eastern-most Joshua Tree National Park, but that range is nearly inaccessible. They are in a few other nearby ranges, but to the east in the Providence Mountains we have subspecies martini.

Fordi use Cymopterus panamintensis var aucutifolius as the larval food plant, and I have heard that it strongly prefers this specific variety.

'Edwards' Indra Swallowtail - Papilio indra pergamus
Papilio indra fordi stopping for nectar in the Granite Mountains near Lucerne Valley in the Mojave desert. March 22, 2022.
Cymopterus panamintensis var. acutifolius, larval food plant of Edwards' Swallowtail - Papilio indra pergamus
Cymopterus panamintensis var. acutifolius amid the boulders at the Granite Mountains, perfect habitat for Ford's swallowtail.
Close up of the leaves and flowers of Cymopterus panamintensis var. acutifolius
Close-up of the leaf and flower of Cymopterus panamintensis var. acutifolius. Also at the Granites.
Original description of Papilio indra fordi
Comstock and Martin wrote a great description for this subspecies of the Indra Swallowtail.

©Dennis Walker