Great Southern White (Ascia monuste [Linnaeus])
Wing span: 2 1/2 - 3 3/8 inches (6.3 - 8.6 cm).
Identification: Upper surface of male forewing white with black zigzag pattern on outer margin. Dry season female form resembles male with heavier black zigzag pattern and a small black spot in the wing cell. Wet-season female is darkened with black scales above and below.
Life history: Males patrol for females. Eggs are laid on the upper surface of host plant leaves in groups of about 20.
Flight: All year in South Texas, peninsular Florida, and along the Gulf Coast.
Caterpillar hosts: Mustard family (Brassicaceae) plants including beach cabbage (Cakile maritima), cultivated cabbage and radish, peppergrass (Lepidium species); and plants in the caper family (Capparidaceae) including nasturtium.
Adult food: Nectar from many species of flowers including saltwort, lantana, and verbena.
Habitat: Salt marshes, coastal dunes, open fields, and gardens.
Range: Resident of south Atlantic and Gulf coasts south through tropical America. Migratory along the Southeastern coast. Strays to Maryland, Kansas, and Colorado.
Conservation: Not usually required.
Management needs: None noted.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates. Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates. Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.