checkered white

(Pontia protodice)

Conservation Status
checkered white
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N4 - Apparently Secure

S4S5B - Apparently Secure to Secure Breeding

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Checkered white is a medium-sized butterfly. It is a southerly species and is uncommon in Minnesota.

There are two forms, the spring form and the summer form. On the summer form, the upperside of the wings are white with black and gray markings. On the male, the upperside of the forewing has a median rectangular spot near the leading edge, a ghostly median spot near the inner margin, two submarginal spots, and some checkering on the outer margin near the tip. The upperside of the hindwing is unmarked. Most of the female markings, including inner median spot, are dark gray. There is considerably more checkering on the outer margin of the forewing, and there is faint checkering on the outer margin of the hindwing.

The underside of the forewing of both sexes reflect the markings on the upperside. The underside of the female hindwing has a brownish-gold zig-zag pattern. The male hindwing is much paler.

Spring form individuals are slightly smaller. They have more and darker markings above, and more goldish-green outlining on the veins below.

The larva (caterpillar), known as the southern cabbageworm, is up to 1 long. It is striped longitudinally with yellow and gray to bluish-gray bands, and there is a pattern of small and even smaller shiny black spots, each with numerous short, bristle-like hairs (setae).

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Wingspan: 1½ to 2½

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Dry, open, disturbed areas: pastures, old fields, agricultural fields, and roadsides.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Two overlapping broods: Early June to August and July to mid-October

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

 

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

The female is sexually receptive and often mates on its first day of its adult life. It lays eggs singly, usually on the fruits, sometimes on the stems, of host plants. The eggs are yellowish, barrel-shaped, and ridged. The offspring of the second brood overwinters as a chrysalis, the pupal stage.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Mostly buds and flowers, but also leaves, of a variety of plants in the Mustard (Brassicaceae) Family.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flower nectar of plants in the Mustard (Brassicaceae) and Aster (Asteraceae) families, and of alfalfa.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 21, 27, 29, 30.

Wisconsin Butterflies

 
  5/2/2018      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Checkered white populations have drastically decreased in eastern Unites States, and the butterfly is now scarce or extirpated in some areas where it was once common. It is uncommon in Minnesota. It appears stable in the west. The cause of the decline is unknown, though habitat loss is certainly a contributor. It is possible that the extremely abundant introduced species cabbage white is displacing native whites, including checkered white. It is also possible that checkered white is a western and midwestern species that only sporadically became abundant in eastern agricultural fields. It remains to be seen whether the decline will continue to spread westward.

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Papilionoidea (butterflies [excluding skippers])  
 

Family

Pieridae (whites, yellows and sulphurs)  
 

Subfamily

Pierinae (whites)  
 

Tribe

Pierini  
  Subtribe Pierina  
 

Genus

Pontia  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

checkered white

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Chrysalis

The pupa (third) stage of a butterfly or moth during which the caterpillar metamorphoses into an adult. In moths, the pupa is enclosed in a silk cocoon. In butterflies, the pupa is naked but protected by a hardened outer shell.

 

Pupa

The life stage of some insects undergoing transformation. In caterpillars, the chrysalis. Plural: pupae.

 

Seta

A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like outgrowth on butterflies and moths used to sense touch. Plural: setae.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Male

 
    checkered white   checkered white  
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
Checkered White (Pontia protodice)
Simon (celery) Marshall
  Checkered White (Pontia protodice)  
Pontia protodice (Checkered White)
Allen Chartier
  Pontia protodice (Checkered White)  
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Other Videos
 
  Checkered White (Pieridae: Pontia protodice) on Blossom
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 4, 2010

Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (04 September 2010).

 
  Pontia protodice CHECKERED WHITE frustrated mating attempts
Rob Curtis
 
   
 
About

Published on Oct 24, 2017

Pontia protodice CHECKERED WHITE frustrated mating attempts

 
  Checkered White Butterflies in the Field, Bouquet Canyon
JCMDIweirdStuff
 
   
 
About

Published on Dec 21, 2008

Some realtime footage of Checkered White (Pieris protodice) in the field - Bouquet Canyon, 2008 V03392

 
  massed checkered white butterflies in HD
Jim French
 
   
 
About

Published on Dec 21, 2008

Hundreds of them clustered on plants in Carrizon Plain, San Luis Obispo County. Click the "watch in HD"

 
  Checkered White caterpillar eating
Butterfly Mommy
 
   
 
About

Published on May 5, 2015

One hungry Checkered White caterpillar munching away.

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
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MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
   

 

 

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