Spring White (Pontia sisymbrii) (Boisduval, 1852)

Diagnosis: This white tends to be smaller (wingspan: 31 to 40 mm) than similar species. It has dark, greenish-brown borders on the hindwing underside veins. The black spot in the cell of the forewing upperside is narrow. In the northern part of its range, including Canada, some females are yellowish (form "flava").

Subspecies: Subspecies flavitincta occurs in the Canadian range.

Range: The Spring White is widespread in mountainous areas of the western U.S. In Canada, it appears to have widely scattered populations. It is found in southern British Columbia, except the coastal area, in western and northern Alberta, throughout Yukon, and in the Northwest Territories, particularly around Great Slave Lake.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: All the checkered whites, Becker's White (Pontia beckerii), Checkered White (Pontia protodice), and Western White (Pontia occidentalis), look similar but have paler green or light brown scaling along the underside hindwing veins. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larva is yellow with a contrasting narrow black lateral line. Foodplants are in the mustard family, including hedge mustard (Sisymbrium spp.) and rock cress (Arabis spp.).

Abundance: The Spring White is considered uncommon in most areas.

Flight Season: It is on the wing mid-May to June in Canada.

Habits: The Spring White is found in a variety of habitats, including canyons, dry hillsides, and open coniferous woods. Males patrol on hilltops.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.