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Checkered White (Pontia protodice)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Checkered White

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Image Credit: Eileen M., taken in Georgetown, TX
Full-sized image of the Checkered-White-Butterfly Thumbnail image of the Checkered-White-Butterfly
Image Credit: Mark C., taken at Everglades National Park, FL
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Image Credit: Don M. from Seymour, IN
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Image Credit: Don M. from Seymour, IN
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Image Credit: Valerie S., taken in Austin, TX
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White diamonds on a black border grace the bottoms of the Checkered White, a North American butterfly not commonly known.

Updated: 06/21/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Checkered White may have hues of yellow on its wings, but they are not as intense or as uniform as seen in Sulphurs, a group of yellow butterflies with different markings. Females have more markings than males. Two stand-alone black marks on each wing of the Checkered White sit near the center of the forewing. The one near the front edge of the wing has a thin white line in its center. Two other black marks are connected to the black and white diamond-shaped border that spans the bottom of all four wings. Males are mostly white with a large, black mark on the forewing, and three smaller ones near the wing's tip. It lacks the checkered border. Both have a dark, hairy thorax and a gray abdomen.

The caterpillar has alternating lines of black and yellow running from head to rear. Pale rings with small, glossy black dots on them circle around the body at each segment. Fine hairs protrude from the entire caterpillar. It feeds on the bitter leaves of a variety of mustards and cabbages as well as cleome, a spiky flowering plant loved by bees. Two or more broods can be produced each year, and the range of this butterfly spans the continent. Despite that, the Checkered White can be absent some years from areas where they were widespread. Drought conditions seem to negatively affect the population size year-to-year.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Pieridae
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          Genus: Pontia
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            Species: protodice

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Pontia protodice
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 38mm to 63mm (1.49" to 2.48")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white; black; gray; yellow
Descriptors: diamonds; checkers; flying; black spots on wings

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 38mm (1.5in) and 63mm (2.5in)
Lo: 38mm
Md: 50.5mm
Hi: 63mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Checkered White may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Checkered White. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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