Checkered White Butterfly – Pontia protodice

Checkered White butterflies are found in almost all of (if not all of) the 48 continental United States.

Checkered White butterflies are often considered ‘trash’ butterflies because they thrive on weeds that grow at the side of roads and in abandoned fields. How anyone can consider this beautiful creature a ‘trash’ butterfly, we can’t imagine.

Checkered White butterflies tend to use Virginia Pepperweed (also called Virginia Peppergrass) as their host plant. This ‘weed’, Lepidium virginicum, thrives in empty lots, old fields, along roads, and in the middle of four-lane highways. It reseeds every year, producing thousands of seed from just one or two plants.

Eggs are laid singly, one at a time, on the plants. Microscopic caterpillars hatch and begin eating the leaves. In about two weeks, in warm months, these caterpillars have grown and are pupating.

Male Checkered White butterflies are bright white. Females are dusky white, darker than the males.

Chrysalises are often made on the host plant or on grass growing near the host plant.

After emerging from their chrysalises, female butterflies are often found and paired by the male by the time her wings are dry. The male, after pairing, sits and waits for her wings to finish drying before flying away with her.