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Checkered White (Pontia protodice)

Checkered White Butterfly

The Checkered White is a species of common small to medium size butterflies found across the United States. They are mostly seen during the summer months in a wide variety of environments.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Pontia
  • Common names: Southern Cabbage Butterfly
  • Scientific Name: Pontia protodice

Description and Identification


Checkered White Butterfly Caterpillar

The larva is considered as a cabbage worm and has a pale greenish gray body with three broken yellow lines on the back, while the entire body is dotted with numerous small and large black spots. The body is also covered with very fine hair-like growths.


Checkered White butterfly Pupa

The chrysalis is pale gray to grayish white with very faint yellow patches and tiny black dots andhangs from the stem of its host plant.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Distinctly present

Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, of male’s forewings display a checkered pattern in black on the outer half, while the females are more heavily patterned, though the markings are rather brown (than black), as also diffused. The hindwing of both the sexes is white. When the wings are closed, the male’s hindwings exhibit a pale checkered pattern, whereas the female show yellowish tan markings on the hindwings, as well as at the tips of forewings.

Checkered White
Pontia protodice

Average wingspan: 1.25–1.75 inches (3.2–4.4 cm)

Flight pattern: Slow, yet erratic


Checkered White Butterfly Eggs

Pale yellowish in color, with an elongated shape and a coarse body, laid one at a time; they turn orange before maturing

Quick Facts

Distribution Common in the southern United States and northern Mexico
Habitat A diverse variety of sites like fields, pastures, sandy areas, dry weedy areas, vacant lots, railroad beds, and roads
Lifespan of adults Believed to be about 6 to 9 months
Host plants Plants from the mustard and the caper families
Adult diet Flower nectar primarily from mustards, composites, and alfalfa species

Did You Know?

  • The caterpillars of the species primarily prefer buds, flowers, and fruits of host plants unlike the caterpillars of most other species that prefer leaves.
Checkered White Butterfly Images
Checkered White Butterflies
Southern Cabbage Butterfly

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Pontia
  • Common names: Southern Cabbage Butterfly
  • Scientific Name: Pontia protodice