Checkered White

It’s always a joy to see something new visiting the garden.  This past weekend I was out and about in the yard and spotted a new butterfly to me, the Checkered White (Pontia protodice).  A handsome butterfly that appears white with brown markings and (to me) a powdery blue body.  This was something that I hadn’t seen before. I’ll be honest when I see most small white butterflies I think of the imported cabbageworm.

Much to my surprise I learned that this is actually a minor agriculture pest down south of plants in the  Brassicaceae family that include mustard, cabbage, and broccoli.  However, I am not growing anything in the mustard family this year in our garden.  Now the plant I found it on, Diamond Frost Euphorbia, is not a host plant for the larvae but I did discover that Clemoe serrulata (Rocky Mountain bee-plant) is.  I am not sure what genus of Clemoe I have growing in my garden I am assuming it is the more popular species C. hassleriana or C. marshallii and I didn’t find any literature supporting that they can be potential host plants.  Literature did support that some of the “weedy” mustard such as Virginia pepperweed (Lepidium virginicum) and a few others are potential host plants.

Adults forage on 50 species of plants including many in the aster family.  Our yard currently has many cone flowers and black-eyed Susan’s in bloom so I am guessing she was just resting on the euphorbia.  Regardless the butterfly was a welcome visitor.  I will have to scout my Clemoe and see if I notice any of the larvae and be careful when I do my fall clean up.  I was reading that they overwinter in the chrysalids.

Scott Evans
Scott Evans is a horticulture assistant with Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. A certified arborist through International Society of Arboirculture and Nebraska Arborist Association. Scott is also Tree Risk Assessment Qualified through ISA. Scott co-leads the Master Gardener program in Douglas & Sarpy counties. Along with volunteer management he provides his expertise with disease and insect identification, lawn and landscape weed management, plant health, and I.P.M. practices. He also enjoys growing many houseplants ranging from African violets to cacti and succulents. Scott has two Bachelors of Science, one in Biology (emphasis in Botany, Ecology and Environmental Science) and second in Environmental Geology from Northwest Missouri State University. He earned his Master of Agriculture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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