Floridata Article

Checkered White (Pontia protodice)

Checkered White butterfly
Habitat: Open, disturbed sites including roadsides, farmland, and old fields Garden Abundance: Occasional Wingspan: 1.5 to 2.0in Larval Host Plants: Wild and cultivated members of the mustard family, especially peppergrass (Lepidium virginicum), but also cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata), broccoli (B. o. var. botrytis) and collards (B. o. var. acephala). Favorite Adult Nectar Sources: Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), peppergrass and purpletop verbena (Verbena bonariensis)

A butterfly of open, sunny areas such as roadsides, vacant lots, agricultural farmland and disturbed sites, the checkered white is common throughout much of the U.S. but is often only locally abundant. Using numerous native and cultivated members of the mustard family as larval host plants, the checkered white is one of the few species to have actually benefited from the spread of human development. Checkered whites have a fast, erratic flight, usually near the ground, and they stay in the open, rarely flying into the woods.

Checkered whites are sexually dimorphic and seasonally variable; the adults often appear radically different, but are basically white with more than two black spots on the forewings. Females have a more checkered pattern than males, and cool season forms of both sexes are more heavily marked than summer forms. The caterpillars are downy green with faint yellow stripes. They live exposed on the host plant leaves and do not build nests.

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