New Jersey Butterflies

Checkered White

Pontia protodice

Identification: Small—1.6" (similar to the very familiar Cabbage White). Unlike Cabbage White, occasionally seen with wings open. Above: Male FW mostly white with black and gray spots; HW almost entirely white. Females are much more heavily marked, with extensive black markings on FW and gray markings on HW. Below: Male FW white with several black spots; HW almost entirely white. Female with gray markings on FW below, and extensive, angular, yellow-brown to yellow-green markings on HW below.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident? Classified as Threatened in NJ, Checkered White is primarily a southern and western species that reaches the northern limit of its range in southern New York. Recently reported annually in Salem County, with hundreds observed in the summer of 2012. A population has persisted for many years at Newark International Airport, Essex County, and a few are reported every year at Sandy Hook NRA, Monmouth County. Elsewhere, occurrences are very sporadic.

NJ Range Map-Checkered White

Habitat: Open, often dry and disturbed.

Flight Period: Spring through fall though most reports are from late summer and early fall. Extreme dates: South Jersey 6/4-11/10.

Larval Food Plants: Peppergrass (Lepidium campestris and L. virginicum) and possibly other species in the mustard family. Both of these species are common and widespread in NJ so Checkered White is not host-plant limited.

Overwintering Stage: Pupa.

Best Locations: Sandy Hook GNRA (primarily in September), and Salem WMA, Salem County. Most 2012 Salem County sightings were in the Pilesgrove area from Auburn to Sharptown.

Comments: Checkered Whites may be residents (meaning that at least some pupae survive milder winters with adults emerging in the spring) in the southern counties, but the few that appear at Sandy Hook and elsewhere in late summer and fall are probably strays from the south. However, there are a few spring reports from Sandy Hook and the Raritan Bay area, which may represent residents. The population at Newark Airport is perplexing, as a few reports from spring may also suggest a resident population at least in some years.

Checkered White

Male, Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co., NJ, 9/7/06.

Checkered White

Female, Millville, Cumberland Co., NJ, 9/14/14.

Checkered White

Male, Millville, Cumberland Co., 10/16/15.

Checkered White

Female, Austin, Travis Co., TX, 4/22/09.