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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: Mark C., taken at Everglades National Park, FL
Full-sized image of the Checkered-White-Butterfly Thumbnail image of the Checkered-White-Butterfly
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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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White diamonds on a black border grace the bottoms of the Checkered White, a North American butterfly not commonly known.



Updated: 01/26/2021; 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.




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
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
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State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
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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