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The Buckeye Butterfly
November 30, 2012

Welcome to the Flying Butterfly!

While most of us are now thinking about the holiday season
I'm shifting gears a bit and introduce you to to one of many common butterflies found in most of our back yards. The Common Buckeye Butterfly (Junonia coenia). With all those gardening gifts you'll receive, use them attract this beautiful butterfly to your garden.

The Buckeye butterfly is found in of the much of Canada, the United States (except northwest) and most of Central America. It is a brushfooted butterfly from the Nymphalidae family.

With an average wingspan of up to 2-1/4 inches, it can be as large as 2-3/4 inches. Eye spots on the top wings are far enough apart to startle predators into thinking rather than a butterfly there may be multiple rodents ready to attack the predator.

Given the right light we humans can be startled to. Wing colors can vary from cream colors, faint to vibrant oranges to browns. Eye spots on the wings include burnt orange, purples to blues to black.

Each forewing has orange bars at the top center of the wing. A cream to white band is outside these bars and circles a larger eye spot. Orange is found again outlining the lower edge of the backwings.

When wings are folded up the bottom
side of the forewing is a faded version
of the top wings brilliant colors.

The ventral, or backwing, resembles a
leaf that is light tan to brown in spring.
In fall this backwing is a darker tan to reddish-brown color.

Male Buckeye's are very territorial and somewhat lazy. They often perch on the ground for hours conserving their energy waiting for the ladies to pass by. Click for more information on butterfly mating.

This butterfly species prefer shorelines and dunes but can also be found by dry creek beds, disturbed grassland areas with bare ground, especially road sides. This isn't to say they can't be found in a garden with plenty
of flowers. They can.

After mating the female butterfly deposits a dark green squatty egg. In warmer climates of the country the female buckeye has several broods a year. In the colder climates only 2 broods. This is because, like the Monarch butterfly, the Buckeye species in colder climates migrate to warmer climates.

Buckeye numbers can rival the Monarchs flying south to ensure species survival, especially along the eastern coastline. For those Buckeyes in the warmer, lower states they will over-winter while the Monarch continues south to Mexico. Click for more about butterly migration.

When the caterpillar emerges it is
dark green to black with spines.

Two rows of white-yellow to orange
spots run along their back and sides.

The butterfly pupa is tan to brown
with cream colored specks.

Host plants include lawn Plantains, Stonecrop and Snapdragons, especially pale yellow. Snapdragons bloom only in spring in colder climates. In mild winter zones bloom in fall, ensuring a Buckeye visit. Outside the favored host plants others consist of Everlasting, Mallows, Nettles, Pussytoes and Thistles. Click for a more detailed breakdown of host plants for butterflies.

Nectar sources top on their list are orange cosmos, violet-blue Verbena bonariensis and Tickseed. Don't forget the water. Like all butterflies, Buckeye's like to puddle in mud and damp sand.

Have a warm, safe holiday season. When January comes
we'll all be thinking about our butterfly garden.

Elizabeth @ Easy Butterfly Garden

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