Checkered White

Pontia protodice

The presence and abundance of the Checkered White varies greatly from year to year. Also, information about this species is not consistent. In Illinois, Bouseman and Sternburg (2001) refer to this species as a migrant from farther south, that must replenish itself each year. In Wisconsin, Ebner (1970) seemed to think that it is a year-round resident. Perhaps this species may be able to occasionally survive the Wisconsin winters, but also become replenished from farther south on a regular basis.

I only saw this species once in Wisconsin during the years 2000 through 2009, although I did see it twice during this time in Minnesota, at McCarthy Lake WMA, Wabasha County. It is a very uncommon migrant, but may become abundant locally once it enters the state. Any white butterfly in open fields should be examined closely to check whether it might be this species.

Weekly sightings for Checkered White

Identifying characteristics

White butterfly with extensive black or brown markings. The female has much more extensive markings. Like the Mustard White, this species has a spring form that has dark, greenish veins beneath.

Similar species

The Cabbage White may be mistaken for a male Checkered White; look at the front wing tip and for a spot on the hind wing. If the front wing tip is solid black and there is a black spot on the hind wing it is a Cabbage White; notice the front wing tip, and the plain white hind wing of the male Checkered White above. The Western White is extremely similar, but is such a rare visitor to Wisconsin it is unlikely that these species would be confused.


Open fields and disturbed areas where plants in the mustard family, the larval host plants of this species, occur.


They may have three or more generations in the south, and they could be present in Wisconsin from May through October.


This species may be able to survive a mild Wisconsin winter in the southern part of the state, but most likely occasional strays from farther south enter the state and are able to reproduce here, but the colonies do not persist.

Early Checkered White Sightings

Date County Reported by
May 7, 2011 Iowa Alex Harmon
Jun 1, 2012 Bayfield Ryan Brady
Jun 2, 2012 Burnett Esjay
Jun 9, 2007 Douglas Ann & Scott Swengel
Jun 9, 2007 Juneau Todd Sima


Map showing sighting locations for Checkered White
Map key
Checkered WhiteClick to enlarge


Wisconsin DNR land off Hwy. 13 south of Wisconsin Rapids, Wood Co., WI. August 7, 2007

Checkered WhiteClick to enlarge


White River Marsh, Green Lake Co., WI. September 30, 2007.

Checkered WhiteClick to enlarge


Leola Marsh, Adams Co., WI. August 3, 2007.

Checkered WhiteClick to enlarge

Female laying eggs on shepherd’s purse

Private property County W, west of Hwy 51/39, Portage Co., WI. August 2, 2009.