Checkered White (Pontia protodice [Boisduval & LeConte])
Wing span: 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 inches (3.8 - 6.3 cm).
Identification: Upperside of male forewing has black checkered pattern on outer half. Female is more heavily patterned, but markings are more brown and diffuse. Hindwing of both male and female white. Underside of male hindwing with pale checkered pattern. Underside of female with yellow-tan markings on hindwing and tip of forewing. Short-day form has underside hindwing veins with heavy gray-green outlines.
Life history: Males patrol flats seeking receptive females, who lay eggs singly on leaves and flowers of host plants. Buds, flowers, and fruits are favorite foods of caterpillars, but they will also eat leaves. A short-day form appears in spring and fall. Chrysalids hibernate.
Flight: Three flights, with a partial 4th in the South, from March-November.
Caterpillar hosts: Plants in the mustard family (Brassicaceae) including cabbage (Brassica oleraceae); and caper family (Capparidaceae) including Rocky Mountain bee-plant (Cleome serrulata).
Adult food: Flower nectar including hedge mustards, composites, and alfalfa.
Habitat: Wide variety of sites including dry weedy areas, vacant lots, fields, pastures, sandy areas, railroad beds, and roads.
Range: Permanent resident in southern United States and northern Mexico; temporary in northern United States and southern Canada. Does not occur in most of New England.
Conservation: Not required.
Management needs: None noted.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
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. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 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:
Brown, J.W., Real, H.G., and D.K. Faulkner. 1992. Butterflies of Baja California. Lepidoptera Research Foundation, Beverly Hills, Calif. Comstock, J.A. 1927. Butterflies of California. Privately published, Los Angeles, Calif. [Facsimile available from Entomological Reprint Specialists, Los Angeles, Calif.] Dameron, W. 1997. Searching for butterflies in southern California. Flutterby Press, Los Angeles, Calif. Emmel, T.C. Editor. 1998. Systematics of western North American butterflies. Mariposa Press, Gainesville, Florida. Emmel, T. C. and J. F. Emmel. 1973. The Butterflies of Southern California. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Science Series No. 26. Garth, J.S. and J.W. Tilden. 1986. California Butterflies. California Natural History Guide 51. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. Langston, R.L. 1981. The Rhopalocera of Santa Cruz Island, California. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 18: 24-35. Miller, Scott E. 1985. Butterflies of the Califorenia Channel Islands. Journal of the Research on the Lepidoptera 23: 282-296. Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Orsak, L.J. 1977. The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Museum of Systematic Biology, University of california, Irvine. Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. Privately published, Denver, Colo. Steiner, J. 1990. Bay Area Butterflies: The Distribution and Natural History of San Francisco Region Rhopalocera. Hayward, Calif.: Hayward State University, Masters Thesis. Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Tilden, J.W. 1965. Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay Region. California Natural History Guide 12. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.