North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Washington

Spring White (Pontia sisymbrii)
JPG -- species photo

Spring White (Pontia sisymbrii [Boisduval])

Wing span: 1 1/4 - 1 3/4 inches (3 - 4.5 cm).

Identification: Upperside of both wings with dark veins on white to creamy yellow background; front wing cell bar is narrow. Veins of underside of hindwing may be edged widely with olive.

Life history: Males patrol hilltops, ridges, or bottoms of canyons in search of females. Eggs are laid singly on any part of the host plants. Young caterpillars feed on leaves, older ones on flowers. Chrysalids hibernate.

Flight: One flight from February-July.

Caterpillar hosts: Plants in the mustard family (Brassicaceae) including hedge mustard (Sisymbrium), rock cresses (Arabis), and tansy-mustard (Descurainia) species.

Adult food: Not reported.

Habitat: Desert hills and other dry slopes, rocky canyons and outcrops, roadsides, open coniferous forests.

Range: British Columbia south to Baja California, east to western Nebraska and western South Dakota.

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.


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:

Hinchliff, J. 1996. The Distribution of the Butterflies of Washington. 
     Evergreen Aurelians. Oregon State University Bookstore, Corvallis.

Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998.  The Butterflies of 
     Canada.  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.  280 pp. 
Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised 
     edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.

Pyle, R.M. 1974. Watching Washington Butterflies. Seattle Audubon Society, 
     Seattle, Wash.

Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. 
     Privately published, Denver, Colo. 

Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. 
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.
Spring White (Pontia sisymbrii)
distribution map
map legend

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