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Ospreys are an indicator species. The health of their population has implications for the health our coastal ecosystems.

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New Jersey Endangered and Threatened Species Field Guide

Image of Checkered white butterfly.Zoom+ Checkered white butterfly. © Jeffrey Pippen

Checkered white butterfly

Pontia protodice

Species Group: Invertebrate

Conservation Status

State: Threatened



Adult checkered whites reach sizes of 1.75 in.-2.4 in. (44-62 mm). Sexes are similar and have a chalky white base color on the wings. There are black spots on the upper surface of the wings. On males they are restricted to forewings, but extend onto the hindwings in females. The number of spots differs between the sexes. A characteristic black patch exists along the bottom front margin of the forewing in both sexes of checkered whites. The under surface of the hindwing is a solid off-white color.

Image of Range of the checkered white in New Jersey.Zoom+ Range of the checkered white in New Jersey.

Distribution and Habitat

They can be found throughout all of the southern United States. New Jersey is located at the northern extent of their range.

Checkered whites are mainly restricted to open areas such as savannas, old fields, vacant lots, and power line right-of-ways, checkered whites can sometimes be found along forest edges (especially in the spring).


Checkered whites use various species of mustards (Cruciferae) and peppergrasses (Lepidium) as host plants. Adults will nectar on a variety of species that include red clover, ironweed, dogbane, Canada thistle, and asters.

Life Cycle

Adults can be seen flying throughout the breeding season from mid- to late-July into October in New Jersey.

Current Threats, Status, and Conservation

There is no clear evidence about how this species has declined in the Northeast. Many believe that it is most likely from the effects of herbicides and habitat loss. The species began to decline in the late 1940s. By the 1960s it was hardly seen. A resident population still exists at the Newark International Airport. The species was listed as threatened in 2001.

Text derived from the book, Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of New Jersey. 2003. Originally written by David M. Golden. Edited by B.E. Beans & L. Niles. Edited and updated in 2010 by Ben Wurst.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Arthropoda
       Class: Insecta
          Order: Lepidoptera
             Family: Pieridae
                Genus: Pontia
                   Species: P. protodice

Find Related Info: Threatened, Invertebrates

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