Buckeye

This post has nothing to do with the State of Ohio or a tree. Rather, in this case, buckeye, common buckeye or “the buckeye” refers to a colorful butterfly.

There are over a hundred species of buckeyes throughout the world, however, only one is common in North America – Junonia coenia. A variable species, buckeye butterflies colonize most of the United States and Southern Canada with the exception of the northwest. Some adults from the first spring broods in the south migrate north in the summer and adults from late summer broods return to the southern states as temperatures cool. In certain areas of the south, Florida for example, buckeyes fly and brood all year. In other southern regions adults or caterpillars overwinter.

Buckeyes are brown butterflies with six eye-spots – one on each of the fore wings and two on each hind wing. The eye-spots are thought to startle or distract predators, especially young inexperienced birds. Each fore wing has two orange bars and a white band, parts of which appear around the largest eye spot. The hind wings have orange submarginal bands. The undersides of the hind wings are lighter in summer and take on a rosy hue in the late fall and winter.

The female buckeye lays single green eggs on the buds or upper sides of host plant leaves. The spiny white and black caterpillars have orange heads and feed on a variety of plants, one primary host being plantain. The adults, which live for about two weeks, suck nectar from flowers and fruits.

Buckeyes are found in sunny areas with low vegetation and some bare ground – open fields, desert washes, thin brush.

These buckeyes were photographed along Ash Creek near the Lower Campground (Lassen County CA).

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