Checkered White Butterfly
Taxonomic Hierarchy Photo
Kingdom: Animalia -- animal
Phylum: Arthropoda -- arthropods
      Subphylum: Hexapoda -- hexapods
Class: hexapoda -- insects


Pterygota -- iwinged insects
           Infraclass: Neoptera -- modern, wing-folding insects
Order: Lepidoptera -- butterflies, moths
Superfamily: Papilionoidea -- butterflies
      Family: Pieridae -- Whites and Yellows
           Subfamily: Pierinae -- Whites
Genus: Pontia
Species: Pontia protodice
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United States Range Map


California Range Map

Adult Sexes Similar

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Identification:   Life history:
Upperside of male forewing has black checkered pattern on outer half. Female is more heavily patterned, but markings are more brown and diffuse. Hindwing of both male and female white. Underside of male hindwing with pale checkered pattern. Underside of female with yellow-tan markings on hindwing and tip of forewing. Short-day form has underside hindwing veins with heavy gray-green outlines.   Males patrol flats seeking receptive females, who lay eggs singly on leaves and flowers of host plants. Buds, flowers, and fruits are favorite foods of caterpillars, but they will also eat leaves. A short-day form appears in spring and fall. Chrysalids hibernate.
Flight:   Wing Span:
Three flights, with a partial 4th in the South, from March-November.   1 1/2 - 2 1/2 inches (3.8 - 6.3 cm).

Caterpillar Hosts:

  Adult Food:
Plants in the mustard family (Brassicaceae) including cabbage (Brassica oleraceae); and caper family (Capparidaceae) including Rocky Mountain bee-plant (Cleome serrulata).   Flower nectar including hedge mustards, composites, and alfalfa.
Habitat:   Season:
Wide variety of sites including dry weedy areas, vacant lots, fields, pastures, sandy areas, railroad beds, and roads.   March-November (3 broods), in United States.
Remarks:   Conservation:
Rather irregular in distribution in eastern North America, not seen every year in many localities, such as Piedmont region of North Carolina.   Not required.

NatureServe Global Status:  G4 - Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Management needs: None noted.

Sources used to Construct this Page:  

Additional Photos

Adult Sexes Similar


All photos 2008 Rick Swartzentrover - Free for non-profit use.

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Global ranks indicate the rarity of a species at a global scale. Species may be fairly common globally but imperiled locally. Global ranks have the following meaning:

  • G1 - Critically Imperiled - At very high risk of extinction due to extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer populations), very steep declines, or other factors.
  • G2 - Imperiled - At high risk of extinction due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors.
  • G3 - Vulnerable - At moderate risk of extinction due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors.
  • G4 - Apparently Secure - Uncommon but not rare; some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors.
  • G5 - Secure - Common; widespread and abundant.
  • * ? or Q = status unknown or uncertain