Checkered White

Pontia protodice

Summary 6

The Checkered White (Pontia protodice), also called Southern Cabbage Butterfly, is a common North American butterfly in the family Pieridae. Its green larva is a type of cabbage worm.

Description 7

The upper side of the wings are white and marked with black and gray, more so on the female than on the male. The underside of the hind wings are marked with extensive yellow-brown veins in the female and less heavily marked to unmarked in the male. The wingspan is 1.25-1.75 in.

Larva description 8

Mature larva is black dotted and bluish green to grey with a yellow dorsal, lateral and sublateral stripes.

Larval host plants 6

Its host plants include Brazos rockcress (Arabis petiolaris), sicklepod (Senna obtusifolia), black mustard (Brassica nigra), broccoli (Brassica oleraceae italica), brussels sprouts (Brassica oleraceae gemmifera), cabbage (Brassica oleraceae capitata), cauliflower (Brassica oleraceae botrytis), turnip (Brassica rapa), pinnate tansy-mustard (Descurainia pinnata), fixweed tansy-mustard (Descurainia sophia), prairie pepperweed (Lepidium densiflorum), Virginia pepper-grass (Lepidium virginicum), radish (Raphanus sativus), tumble mustard (Sisymbrium altissimum), and field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense).

GTM Occurence 8

The Checkered White is rare in the GTM. There have only been 3 specimens observed one each in June and July in the open habitat along Transect A and one in December along the Marsh Pond Overlook (Transect B). There have been 3 specimens observed as of December 28, 2015.

Distribution 7

Pontia protodice is most commonly found in the southern parts on the United States along with some of the northern areas of Mexico. Occasionally the species can be found in the northern parts of the U.S. and southern Canada. It is absent from the Pacific Northwest and the New England area, although populations have become increasingly erratic just east of the Appalachians.P. protodice are most widespread in late summer and autumn, not earlier in the season.

Habitat 7

Habitats are open areas, including desert, plains, and disturbed areas. Virtually any disturbed dry open area such as vacant lots, railroads, airports, dry grassland, deserts, and cities are potential areas of inhabitation. In addition, populations may sometimes be found in sparsely wooded areas, grasslands, and meadows in the prairie and parkland regions, usually in areas without heavy shade. Though it may seem these species of butterfly inhabit a wide range of environments, they have been found to be absent from certain counties for many years at a time.

Nature serve conservation status 9

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Drastic decline in the Middle Atlantic region and apparently as far south as the Carolinas and Georgia. No longer appears widely most years northeast of the Carolinas except for one persistent colony in northern New Jersey and around New York City. Decline seems sufficient to make a rank of "demonstrably secure" no longer tenable since it is not now predictable whether the decline will spread westward or not. The species is apparently secure in the western USA for now. No state Natural Heritage Programs east of the Appalachians rank this species as demonstrably secure any more, not even Georgia or Florida. It still frequently reaches northern Indiana and parts of Ohio or did in the 1990s.

Environmental Specificity: Broad. Generalist or community with all key requirements common.

Other Considerations: The causes of the decline eastward are not clear. Suspects include competition or more likely parasite or pathogen spill over from the introduced Pieris rapae and introduced exotic crucifers toxic to larvae on which females waste eggs. Loss of habitat is almost certainly not the cause.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Jerry Oldenettel, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  2. (c) Jim McCulloch, some rights reserved (CC BY),
  3. (c) Jim McCulloch, some rights reserved (CC BY),
  4. (c) TexasEagle, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  5. (c) gtmresearchreserve, all rights reserved, uploaded by GTMResearchReserve,
  6. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  7. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  8. (c) GTMResearchReserve, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)
  9. (c) NatureServe, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),

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