Monday, October 18, 2010

Checkered White (Pontia protodice) in Wildwood

Yesterday afternoon, about 1:45, as I was walking the trail in Wilwood Park to meet folks from the NRV Mushroom Club, I found a butterfly that I have never seen in the park before: a Checkered White. It was a female, and it was nectaring on some aster blossoms.

I ran from near the outdoor classroom up the hill to near the green gate to see if I could find anyone with a camera. I saw John Ford, and told him the news. We hurried back to the flowers where the Checkered White had been. It was still there. John tried to get some pictures but it fluttered away several times, beyond reach of camera focus. Then it finally just flew up, up and away. If a butterfly can giggle and snicker because it foiled a photographer, this one probably was, though I did not hear this.

I will ask some friends if they have a picture of this species. I will add one later to this posting if I receive a picture to share.

I have mainly seen this species in the piedmont of Virginia, and never anywhere in the NRV. In 2001 I saw a few in Roanoke and Bedford Counties, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of these even on Apple Orchard Mountain, highest point on the Parkway in Virginia. The only place I have seen a fairly good number of them is in Pittsylvania County and the City of Danville.

At one time there were scattered populations in the New River Valley, but these have largely if not entirely disappeared. In fact the population of this species has plunged throughout the entire eastern part of the US, from the Carolinas to New England.

The Checkered White I saw yesterday gives me hope that some do remain in the region.

1 comment:

  1. I came along on the tail end of all this excitement - too late to even see the critter. I think that it was probably hiding behind a tree, quite amused at all the stir it had caused. I'll try to have my camera ready when it does come back.