Wild South Florida — White Checkered Butterfly
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White Checkered Butterfly
White Checkered Butterfly  

You might not want to see this butterfly in your backyard garden, at least not if you're growing plants that are members of the cabbage family, Brassicaceae, including brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower. The white checkered butterfly, Pontia protodice, is also known as the southern cabbage butterfly, and its offspring are known as cabbage worms. They will eat the outer leaves of the plants, but will leave the heads alone, unlike the larvae of another pest, the cabbage white butterfly. Other than that minor character

White Checkered Butterfly

flaw, they are pretty cool as butterflies go. They are medium sized, with a wingspan that can approach two inches; their range includes the southern tier of the U.S., including Florida, but they can be found in almost every state in the union, with the exceptions of the Northwest and New England. They will even venture into southern Canada. Southward, they can be found throughout Mexico and Central America. Although their population globally seems secure, the checkered white has become rare in parts of the East Coast, and, according to scientists, there is some concern that biological controls are taking a toll on the species. The males have black markings on the outer portions of the their wings; females have more markings but they tend to be brownish. Checkered whites will feed on the nectar from at least 50 different plants; we found this one sipping away on Spanish needles one early day in May at Oleta River State Park.
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