Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
MT Gov Logo
Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Spring White - Pontia sisymbrii

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5


Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:



External Links





 
General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.8-2.3 cm. Base color white (males) or pale yellow (females), wings more translucent than close relatives. Uppersurface with narrow and centrally-notched black bar in forewing cell, forewing with a series of postmedian and marginal black marks along veins at wing tip. Undersurface of hindwing with pattern of brownish-black scaling along veins, some yellow scales directly on veins, with a postmedian whitish interruption.

Phenology
One flight, February to March in southern deserts, April to May in Colorado, mid-May to June in Canada (Scott 1986). One flight, February to April in southwestern deserts, April to June in Oregon, British Columbia, Colorado, South Dakota, into August at high elevations (Glassberg 2001). March to early June in Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), late March to mid-June in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978; Scott and Epstein 1987), late June to mid-July at high elevation in northern California (Shapiro 1977), late March to late August in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), late March to early August in Oregon (Warren 2005), April to early July in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of whitish base color, uppersurface of forewing with narrow and centrally-notched black cell bar, forewing with a series of postmedian and marginal black marks along veins at wing tip, undersurface of hindwing with brownish-black scaling along veins, some yellow scales directly on veins, with a postmedian whitish interruption.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions

Native
 


Range Comments
Southern Yukon and western Northwest Territories south through low and mid-elevation mountains to central Baja California and northwestern Mexico, east to western South Dakota, Nebraska, western Oklahoma, western Texas (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); normally below 2591 m elevation in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), 1585 m to 2621 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957; Scott and Scott 1978), to about 2743 m elevation in northern California (Shapiro 1977), 183 m to at least 2438 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005). In Montana, reported from at least 30 counties across the state, but less often in the eastern 1/2 (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database), 875 m to at least 1661 m elevation, with a report from Carbon County of 3042 m elevation. Uncommon to abundant (Glassberg 2001).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 5

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Non-migratory.

Habitat
Lower-elevation canyons, riparian canyons in arid areas, desert hills, dry rocky areas, chaparral, sagebrush, pine forest, roadsides, above treeline in dry rocky alpine terrain (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011). In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, reported from open coniferous forest, rocky outcrops, canyons, rocky desert, alpine slopes (Debinski and Pritchard 2002).

Food Habits
Larval food plants are native and exotic mustards, including Arabis (multiple species), Caulanthus, Descurainia, Sisymbrium, and Streptanthus (several species) (Emmel et al. 1970; Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; Pyle 2002; Graves and Shapiro 2003; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Arabis, Cerastium, Claytonia, Collinsia, Lathyrus, Lesquerella, Lomatium, Thlaspi, Viola) and mud (Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly anywhere on host plant (pods, stems, leaves), typically the undersurface if on a leaf (Shapiro 1981; Scott 1986, 1992). Eggs hatch in about 2-3 days (depending on temperature), larvae develop rapidly to L5 instar and pupae in about 20 days, overwinter (diapause) as pupae, sometimes for multiple years (Scott 1979, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Small larvae feed on leaves and large larvae on flowers and fruits, larvae may cannibalize unhatched eggs, build no nest but may silk pods together and rest on silk mat, pupate on host plant stem (Scott 1979, 1986, 1992; Shapiro 1981; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males patrol hilltops throughout the day, sometimes hillsides and canyon bottoms, in search of females (Scott 1975b, 1986; Warren 2005).

References
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Spring White — Pontia sisymbrii.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from