Learn more about 10 White Butterfly Species

A white butterfly species belongs to the order Lepidoptera, family Pieridae, a highly diverse family with over 70 genera with more than 1,000 subspecies, native mostly to tropical Africa, Asia, and Eurasia. As the name says, these butterflies are mostly white.

1. Pine White Butterfly

Pine White Butterfly
Pine White Butterfly

Pipe white butterfly (Neophasia menapia) is covered in white cells around its upper side. It has a black band across the coastal margin, black wing tips, and black veins on the underside of its wings. Female is similar to males but a bit duller.

During its life cycle, males will perch near host trees, looking for females. Females lay eggs in a single row on a conifer needle. Larvae feed in groups while they’re young. The pupa will attach to the host tree.

Pipe white butterfly is present around the following areas in Canada and US:

  • British Columbia
  • Alberta
  • Rocky Mountains
  • California
  • western South Dakota
  • Western Nebraska

2. Checkered White Butterfly

Checkered White Butterfly
Checkered White Butterfly

Checkered white (Pontia protodice) has a gray body. The upper side of its wings has a checkered pattern on the outer half. Females have more patterns, but they’re brownish.

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Males patrol seeking females. Females lay eggs singly on the leaves and flowers of host plants. Chrysalis hibernate. This butterfly also has a short day form appearing in spring and fall.

Checkered white is:

  • permanent resident in the southern US
  • permanent resident in northern Mexico
  • temporary resident in the northern United States
  • temporary resident in southern Canada

3. Giant White Butterfly

Giant White Butterfly
Giant White Butterfly

Giant white butterfly (Ganyra Josephina) is a truly large white butterfly with a wingspan of 2 7/8 to 3 3/4 inches (7.3 to 9.6 cm). You can easily identify it with a black spot on the forewing, visible from under and upperside, and barely outlined veins. Its body is also white.

Adults feed on flower nectar. These butterflies have one flight from September to December in southern Texas. This Lepidoptera species caterpillar feeds on older leaves of Capparidaceae plants.

You can find the Giant white butterfly in the following range:

  • Mexico
  • Guatemala
  • Puerto Rico
  • Nicaragua
  • South Texas
  • stray to Kansas and New Mexico

4. Great Orange Tip Butterfly

Great Orange Tip Butterfly
Great Orange Tip Butterfly

The Great orange-tip butterfly (Hebomoia glaucippe) has brightly white wings with barely visible veins and recognizable orange tips on the forewings. The orange tips have more prominently marked veins with black lines and spots. Its body is white.

This butterfly is known for containing a peptide toxin glacontryphan-M in its wings but not its body. This toxin has so far been recorded only in the sea snail Conus marmoreus.

This species lives in south and southeast Asia, southern China, and southern Japan.

5. Pacific Orange Tip Butterfly

Pacific Orange Tip Butterfly
Pacific Orange Tip Butterfly

Pacific orange tip (Anthocharis Sara) is a white butterfly with a large orange eyespot on the upper side of the male’s forewings. Females have smaller spots and a dark border with white wedges. The undersides of the hindwings contain pale grayish patterns.

Males patrol the valleys for females. Females lay eggs singly near the top of the host plant. Young caterpillars eat flower buds, and older ones feed on flowers and fruit. Chrysalis hibernates.

This butterfly can be found on the Alaska coast, south to Baja, California, and usually to the west of the Pacific divide.

6. Desert Marble

Desert Marble butterfly
Desert Marble butterfly

Desert marble (Euchloe lotta) has a dark grey hairy body and white wings with the edges of the forewings painted black. Some of these patterns are visible on the underside, yet this area has a dominant green on the hindwings.

Males fly around hilltops and ridges looking for females. Females lay eggs singly on host plants, mostly flowers and fruit. Caterpillar eats those and hibernates as a chrysalis.

Desert marble is native to in the East of the Cascades, Canada (South British Columbia), and the following US regions:

  • Sierra Nevada
  • Southern California
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico

7. Great Southern White

Great Southern White
Great Southern White

The Great southern white butterfly (Ascia monuste) has a black zig-zag pattern on the overall white wings. Females are similar to males, without such prominent patterns. The underside of the hindwings is a bit yellowish with more expressed veins.

Males patrol for females. Females lay eggs in groups of 20. Males live about 5 days, females up to 10.

The Great southern white butterfly is a resident of the south Atlantic, the Gulf Coast, and the tropical Americas. They also migrate along the Southeastern coast and may stray to Colorado, Kansas, or Maryland.

8. Cabbage White Butterfly

Cabbage White Butterfly
Cabbage White Butterfly

The Cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae), also known as a Small white butterflyCabbage butterfly (or just White butterfly in New Zealand), has two noticeable black dots on the upperside of the forewings. Its body is gray-white, and the underside is evenly yellow-green or gray-green.

This species’ caterpillar is often referred to as the “imported cabbageworm” and is considered a pest to plants in the mustard family (Brassicaceae) — cabbage, kale, bok choy, and broccoli. This butterfly loves any open space, including man-made gardens and roadsides. Their presence in one area means they’ll compete with other Pieridae kinds.

This butterfly is present all around North America in both US and Canada to northwest Mexico.

9. Margined White

Margined White
Margined White

The Margined white butterfly (Pieris marginalis) has a summer and spring form. The summer form is pure white above and below. The spring form has black-tipped upper forewings. The underside of the hindwings and apex of the forewing has veins edged with greenish lines.

This species has two flights from February to September in the west. Males patrol for receptive females. Females lay eggs singly on the underside of host plant leaves. Chrysalis hibernates.

Margined white frequents Canada and the US:

  • Southern British Columbia
  • Alberta south
  • Central California
  • Southern New Mexico
  • east to eastern Wyoming
  • Eastern Colorado

10. Clouded Sulphur

Clouded Sulphur
Clouded Sulphur

Clouded sulphur (Colias philodice) is known for its bright upper wing surface in males. Some yellow coloration is also present, combined with solid black edges. The lower side of the forewings is dark with submarginal spots. Hindwings are silvery, lined with orange-pink.

This species has 3 flights in the north, from May to October, and 5 flights in the south, lasting from March to October. Females lay eggs singly; on hosts, caterpillars eat the leaves. In the third stage, the caterpillar hibernates.

Clouded sulphur lives in the following regions:

  • Alaska
  • central and southeast Canada
  • most of the US

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