Common Buckeye: Essential Facts and Tips for Butterfly Enthusiasts

The Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) is a fascinating butterfly species found across the southern United States and Mexico. Their colorful markings and distinctive eyespots make them a favorite among butterfly enthusiasts. Being able to adapt to various habitats, these intriguing creatures often make appearances in gardens, meadows, and even wetlands.

One of the most striking features about the Common Buckeye are the two orange bars on their forewings, as well as the eyespots present on all four wings. Alongside their attractive appearance, the caterpillars showcase an equally captivating form, displaying a bluish-black hue with yellow to creamy orange stripes and metallic branching spines. The caterpillars are known to feed on host plants like snapdragons, toadflax, and figwort, which belong to the figwort family, Scrophulariaceae.

With a wingspan approximately ranging from 1.5 to 2.75 inches (4.2 – 7 cm), the Common Buckeye has a wide distribution and even temporarily colonizes regions of the United States and southern Canada each year. Observing these beautiful butterflies in their natural habitats provides a unique opportunity for nature lovers to appreciate their stunning features and various life stages.

Common Buckeye Characteristics

Physical Attributes

The Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) is a butterfly with distinctive features that make it easily identifiable. It has a relatively small body, with a variety of colors and patterns spread across its wings.

Wingspan and Coloration

  • Wingspan: 1½ – 2¾ inches (4.2 – 7 cm)
  • Upperside wing color: brown with orange, yellow, and black markings
  • Underside hindwing color: brown or tan in the wet season, rose-red in the dry season

The upperside of the wings display a rich tapestry of colors, including bold orange bars and yellow accents on a brown background. The hindwings also feature a unique reddish tint during the fall season.

Eyespots and Other Markings

One of the most striking characteristics of the Common Buckeye is its eyespots. These markings can be found on all four wings, with two on the forewing and two on the hindwing. The larger hindwing eyespot contains a magenta crescent, adding an extra touch of color to the butterfly’s appearance.

Comparison with Similar Species

Feature Common Buckeye Red Buckeye
Eyespots 2 on each wing, magenta crescent Usually fewer & smaller
Upperside wing color Brown with orange bars & yellows Darker brown/red
Hindwing underside color (wet season) Brown/tan Varies

The Common Buckeye differs from similar species such as the Red Buckeye by its bold color pattern, including its higher number of distinguishable eyespots and its unique cream, brown, and reddish hues found on the wings.

Lifecycle and Behavior

Eggs and Larvae

The Common Buckeye butterfly begins its life as an egg. Females lay their eggs individually on the leaves of host plants. Upon hatching, small larvae emerge and start feeding on the leaves.

Caterpillars and Instars

Caterpillars of this species are usually:

  • Bluish-black
  • Yellow to creamy orange stripes and spots
  • Possess numerous metallic bluish-black spines1

Instars are the stages between molts. As the caterpillar grows, it goes through various instars, shedding its skin multiple times.

Instar Length (in millimeters)
1 1.5 – 2
2 2 – 4
3 4 – 9
4 9 – 15
5 15 – 35

Pupa and Chrysalis Stage

Once the caterpillar reaches its final instar, it enters the pupa stage. It forms a protective shell called a chrysalis around itself. Inside the chrysalis, it undergoes metamorphosis to transform into an adult butterfly.

Migration and Overwintering

Common Buckeye butterflies can be found across the southern United States and parts of Mexico2. They expand their range northward each year, sometimes reaching southern Canada. They also engage in overwintering, a process where they seek shelter during winter months to increase their survival rate.

Adult Common Buckeye Butterflies

Adult Common Buckeyes have distinct features:

  • Brown color with orange bars on the forewing
  • Off-white forewing band
  • Eyespots on all four wings3

The adult butterflies feed on nectar from various flowers, and their beautiful patterns serve as a defense mechanism to deter predators.

Habitat and Range

Geographical Distribution

The Common Buckeye butterfly is mainly found in the southern United States and much of Mexico. In the U.S., it can be seen all the way to southern Canada, with temporary colonization taking place annually in wider regions.

Presence in major regions:

  • Southern United States
  • Mexico
  • Temporarily, in parts of southern Canada

Common Habitats

Common Buckeyes have diverse habitat preferences, often occupying fields, roadsides, and yards. They prefer areas with low vegetation and bare ground, like old fields.

Examples of habitats:

  • Fields
  • Roadsides
  • Yards
  • Old fields with low vegetation

Adaptations to Environment

The Common Buckeye butterfly has adapted to its environment by preferring areas with low vegetation and bare ground. This allows them to better camouflage and optimally find suitable host plants for their caterpillars. As the butterfly expands its range, it can survive in various habitats, adjusting its population to fluctuating seasonal conditions.

Diet and Feeding

Caterpillar Host Plants

Common Buckeye caterpillars feed on a variety of plants, some of which include:

  • Plantain: A primary host plant, particularly Plantago lanceolata (narrowleaf plantain)
  • Toadflax: A crucial plant in their diet
  • False Foxglove: Another preferred food plant

Adult Nectar Sources

Adult Common Buckeyes are known to feed on nectar from a range of flowering plants, such as:

  • Red Flowers: They’re often attracted to bright red flowers (unlike caterpillars)
  • Snapdragons: A popular nectar source for these butterflies
  • Coneflowers: Another favored choice for nectar feeding
Nectar Source Preference
Red Flowers High
Snapdragons High
Coneflowers High
Other flowers Moderate

Food Preferences and Variations

Common Buckeye caterpillars and adults have different food preferences:

  • Caterpillars: Primarily feed on plantains, toadflax, and false foxglove
  • Adults: Seek nectar from a variety of flowers, with a preference for red

This variation in diet allows them to adapt to their surroundings and contributes to their wide distribution across North America.

Predators and Defense Mechanisms

Common Buckeye Predators

The Common Buckeye butterfly faces several predators, including:

  • Ants
  • Birds
  • Wasps

These predators are attracted to the butterfly due to its vibrant colors and presence in various habitats.

Avoiding and Deterring Threats

Common Buckeye butterflies have developed various defense mechanisms to avoid and deter potential threats. Some notable features include:

  • Short-branching spines: These provide physical protection against small predators like ants.
  • Raised orange spots: Often found on the wings, these spots help in camouflaging the butterfly among flowers like false foxglove.

Comparison of Common Buckeye Predators and Defense Mechanisms

Predators Defense Mechanisms
Ants Short-branching spines
Birds Raised orange spots, camouflage
Wasps Short-branching spines, camouflage

While these defense mechanisms are effective against most predators, they may not deter larger or more persistent ones. In such cases, the butterfly may rely on its agility and speed to escape.

Ecological Role and Human Interaction

Relationship with Nature

The Common Buckeye, known by its scientific name Junonia coenia, belongs to the Lepidoptera order and lies within the Kingdom Animalia. The butterfly plays an essential role in nature, contributing to the delicate balance of ecosystems.

For example:

  • Predator-prey interactions: As the caterpillar and adult forms consume plants, they become prey for birds and other predators.

Pollinators and Plants

Common Buckeyes act as pollinators, transferring pollen between various plants as they feed. This facilitates:

  • Plant reproduction: Pollination leads to plant fertilization and seed production.
  • Biodiversity increase: Successful plant reproduction maintains diverse plant populations.

Gardens and Backyard Ecology

Common Buckeyes have potential benefits for gardens and backyard ecology, such as:

  • Aesthetic appeal: Their colorful wings add beauty to outdoor areas.
  • Pollination services: They help plants thrive by promoting pollination.

Comparison table: Common Buckeye vs. Other butterflies

Feature Common Buckeye Other butterflies
Size Medium-sized Can range from small to large
Wing coloration Distinct eye-like spots Can have various colors and patterns
Diet Primarily nectar, some plant material Varies, usually nectar or fruit juices

In summary:

  • Common Buckeyes are essential ecological actors contributing to predator-prey interactions and plant pollination.
  • These butterflies can be beneficial for gardens and backyard ecology, adding beauty and supporting plant growth.

Similar and Related Species

Monarchs and Other Butterflies

The Common Buckeye is distinct from Monarchs and other butterflies due to its unique eye-spotted wings. Monarchs have a different pattern, featuring black, orange, and white colors.

Characteristic differences:

  • Common Buckeye: eye-spotted wings
  • Monarchs: black, orange, and white pattern

Tropical Buckeye and Missouri

The Tropical Buckeye, found in the southern United States, bears similarity to the Common Buckeye. However, they have a more contrasting wing pattern, with vivid blue accents. In Missouri, the Ohio Buckeye tree is unrelated to the Common Buckeye butterfly despite the shared name.

Tropical Buckeye features:

  • Similar to Common Buckeye
  • Vivid blue accents on wings

White Peacock and Southern Species

The White Peacock is another related southern species. It has distinct white wings with black and orange markings, setting it apart from the Common Buckeye.

White Peacock characteristics:

  • White wings
  • Black and orange markings

Moths and Densovirus

While moths are related to butterflies, they differ in various aspects, such as wing structure and nocturnal habits. Both butterflies and moths can be affected by densovirus, which can lead to population declines.

Moths vs butterflies:

Moths Butterflies
Wing structure Often feathery Smooth and slender
Habits Mainly nocturnal Primarily diurnal

Densovirus:

  • Affects both moths and butterflies
  • Can cause population declines

Interesting Facts and Observations

Drumming Behavior

  • Common Buckeye caterpillars exhibit an interesting behavior called drumming.
  • This involves tapping their heads on the substrate, which is an essential means of communication among caterpillars of the same species.

Horse Chestnut and Red Buckeye

  • While Common Buckeye caterpillars feed on a variety of plants, they are known to be attracted to Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) and Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia) trees.
  • These trees are valuable sources of nutrition for the caterpillars.

Comparison of Horse Chestnut and Red Buckeye

Feature Horse Chestnut Red Buckeye
Height 50-75 feet 12-25 feet
Leaves Palmately compound Pinnately compound
Flower color White with yellow spots Red
  • Both trees share certain characteristics, such as producing flowers and attracting a variety of pollinators, including Common Buckeye butterflies.

By observing the drumming behavior, habitat preferences, and food sources of the Common Buckeye, readers can better appreciate this unique butterfly species. Understanding these aspects contributes to an enhanced appreciation for the natural world and encourages the conservation of essential habitats.

Footnotes

  1. Common Buckeye Caterpillars

  2. Common Buckeye Range

  3. Adult Common Buckeye Characteristics

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Buckeye

 

Another unsolved butterfly identification
Mr Bugman,
I have recently photographed some Buckeye butterflies here in Charlotte, NC on 10/14/07. Some from the top view and from the side. However, the side shot pictures I took recently look different from a butterfly I photographed a couple of months ago in southern Indiana. I thought it was a Buckeye and now I am wondering what it is. It’s markings on the underside of the fore wing and hind wing look completely different from the pictures I took recently of the side of the Buckeye. And it is lighter in color. I tried to find one similar and I just don’t know if it is a Buckeye. Can you confirm? Thanks,
Patrick Crone

Hi Patrick,
We just noticed this additional submission from you. You are correct. This is a Buckeye and it matches an image posted on BugGuide.

Letter 2 – Buckeye Butterfly

 

are you still id-ing beautiful bugs?
I have you in my address book as one who is willing to identify bugs, beautiful or otherwise. While butterflies really don’t really classify as bugs in my lexicon, here’s a beauty that I would love to have identified. I photographed this elderly but still beautiful creature at the UC Santa Cruz (california) arboretum last August and just came across him in my images. Would you help? Many thanks,
Alice Steele

Hi Alice,
This is a Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia coenia. The larvae feed on monkey flowers and snapdragons, which probably explains its presence at the arboretum.

Letter 3 – Buckeye Butterfly

 

Two pretty bugs 1 butterfly 1 unknown to me. Florida
The first one I am not sure what it is, but it had some pretty colors on it. The other is a butterfly that I found in my garage, don’t know how it got in there but it was very pretty. It would be great if you could tell what kind of bugs these are. I live in SW Florida. Thank you for your time,
Heather

Hi Heather,
Your unknown insect is a Polka Dot Wasp Moth, and we currently have an image on our homepage. Your butterfly is known as a Common Buckeye.

Letter 4 – Buckeye Butterfly

 

Subject:  Common Buckeye, maybe
Geographic location of the bug:  Southeastern New Mexico
Date: 10/28/2017
Time: 05:54 PM EDT
I found this guy flitting around in my yard.  He landed in the grass and posed for several pictures.  I thought he was perfect for fall – brown, orange, cream, along with great eyespots.  Looking on your site, I found the Common Buckeye, they looked like a match.  For all that it is a “common” butterfly, I don’t recall seeing one before.  It looked like your last Common Buckeye submission was from a few years ago, so I thought I’d send it in.
How you want your letter signed:  Curious

Common Buckeye

Dear Curious,
We believe this is a Common Buckeye, but according to BugGuide, the similar looking Tropical Buckeye is also found New Mexico.

Letter 5 – Buckeye Caterpillar

 

found another caterpillar
We are having a ball finding caterpillars in the flower garden and watching them transform. It’s been a great educational experience for all of us and my four year old is very fascinated at the entire process. She name them all “Leah”. Anyway, I again searched all 10 caterpillar pages and was unable to locate our newest find. Could you please help. Thanks
Mitzi

Hi Mitzi,
This catepillar is one of the Nymphalidae or Brush Footed Butterflies. We are nearly positive it is the Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia. According to BugGuide, the caterpillar host plants include: “Plants from the snapdragon family including snapdragon ( Antirrhinum ), toadflax ( Linaria ), and Gerardia ; the plantain family including plantains ( Plantago ); and the acanthus family including ruellia ( Ruellia nodiflora ). “

Letter 6 – Buckeye from Argentina

 

Junonia
Hi! I found this butterfly in my backyard, in Parana, Argentina. I would like to know whether it is a Junonia evarete or another species. Thanks!
Emiliano

Hi Emiliano,
This might also be a Tropical Buckeye, Junonia genoveva, which ranges as far south as Argentina.

Letter 7 – Buckeye Metamorphosis

 

Our Caterpillar Turned into a Butterfly Today….or is it a Moth??
Hello,
I had written a few weeks back (see below), and hadn’t heard back from you…I completely understand why…no worries really 🙂 But my four year old and I decided to “keep” the caterpillar. I was going to put him outside the next morning, but woke up to him in a cocoon! I figured he’d be fine if we kept him until he emerged. And today it happened! My daughter noticed the cocoon was empty and his short visit was over. Thought you might like a before and after shot 🙂
Brittany Clarke

(09/28/2007) Caterpillar Question
My four year old found this little guy in the grass. We live in the northwestern part of Virginia & was wondering what kind of caterpillar this is. After looking through your site, the closest I can guess is a Mourning Cloak or Brush Footed??? Your help is much appreciated!!!! 🙂
Brittany Clarke

Hi Brittany,
Thank you so much for your patience, both at our lack of response, and with the wait for your Common Buckeye caterpillar to metamorphose into the adult Common Buckeye butterfly.

Letter 8 – Buckeyes

 

Subject: Buckeyes in Central Minnesota
Location: St. Augusta, MN
May 24, 2012 2:14 pm
Hello Bug-nuts!
This Spring continues to be without equal in my fifty-plus years of insect watching. On the afternoon of the 22nd, I was out in the butterfly garden when a half dozen buckeyes blew in.
For those who are lucky enough to get these spectacular butterflies, that may not seem all that remarkable, but I haven’t seen one in 25 years. It was thrilling!
Luckily, I was out there with my camera, and the butterflies were hungry. They loved our chives, and I got good photos.
Chives are a lot more than just a topping for baked potatoes.
Thanks for your excellent site. As you know, I am a big fan.
Signature: Don J. Dinndorf

Buckeyes

Hi Don,
How lucky are you to have seen such a large number of Buckeyes, especially after so many years without seeing any.  Your photos are wonderful.  We often let many plants in our vegetable garden to go seed because of the insects that are attracted to the blooms.  Carrot blossoms and onion blooms are both very attractive to a large number of pollinating insects.

Letter 9 – Common Buckeye

 

Common Buckeye
After viewing the butterflies in your site, this appears to be a Common Buckeye. I like the coloring on this one, I found interesting reading on how the eye on the butterfly is a light lavendar when fresh, and changes eventually. Some appear quite different in color. This butterfly landed on my friends young daughter in Bella Vista Arkansas. I was fortunate to see the Butterfly migration this year in southern california. The sky was filled with them for a few days going over the house.
Steph Hart

Hi Steph,
We just had someone write in with a caterpillar ID and it was a Common Buckeye. Next day he sent in the new Chrysalis and now you have completed the metamorphosis for us.

Letter 10 – Common Buckeye

 

Moth
Ran into this beautiful moth while hiking in the S.F. Bay Area. I have been unable to identify it. Can you help me? Thanks,
Dale

Hi Dale,
This isn’t a moth but a Common Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia coenia. Larval foods include monkey flowers and snapdragons.

Letter 11 – Common Buckeye

 

mystery moth
Hi again:
I looked through all of the moth photos and didn’t see one like this on your website. It was resting on a leaf in our yard in central North Carolina (Piedmont region) this morning. It wasn’t very big – maybe 3 inches across with its wings spread. Can you help me identify it? As always, thanks.
Sandy

Hi Sandy,
The Common Buckeye, Jononia coenia, is a butterfly, not a moth.

Letter 12 – Common Buckeye

 

Hi, I was wondering if this is a moth or butterfly and what kind it is. I shot him among my marigolds in St. Marys, Georgia. Thanks,
Regina Wiss

Hi Regina,
Your butterfly is known as the Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia.

Letter 13 – Common Buckeye

 

Butterfly ID?
Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 4:03 PM
I photographed this butterfly sunning on the deck by the pool in early Sept. At first it looks quite plain, but some of the detail is stunning! I guess I am going to have to invest in some good insect id books to go with my new camera!
Sara Edwards
NW Tennessee

Common Buckeye
Common Buckeye

Hi Sara,
This beautiful butterfly is known as the Common Buckeye.  We hope its human namesakes, all those Ohio voters in the Buckeye Swing State, get out to vote.

Letter 14 – Common Buckeye

 

Tan and Rust Colored Butterfly
September 27, 2009
Hi,
I’m having no luck identifying this butterfly. I took this photo in a conservation area along the Mississippi river. Any help you can offer will greatly be appreciated.
Thank you!
Sheri
Northeast Missouri

Common Buckeye
Common Buckeye

Hi Sheri,
We believe your butterfly is a Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia.  The dorsal view is quite distinctive.  The ventral view has more subtle, and somewhat variable markings, but we matched your photo to an image on BugGuide.

Letter 15 – Common Buckeye

 

Common Buckeye
Location:  North Middle Tennessee
August 1, 2010 6:52 pm
Hi Daniel,
I ran across this little fellow in the yard yesterday. I know you have some of these already on your website. But it is so beautiful I just wanted to share it. Thank You for all that you do and have a wonderful day.
Richard

Common Buckeye

Hi Richard,
Your photo of a Common Buckeye is lovely, and this will be our last posting of the morning, at least until we finish writing a comment letter to a Mitigated Negative Declaration regarding a proposed condominium project in the neighborhood that we promised we would write.  We will try to identify your wasps later in the day.

Letter 16 – Common Buckeye

 

6 “eyes” moth ?
Location:  White Oak, Maryland
September 16, 2010 1:09 pm
I think this is a moth due to the flat posture, but my wife snapped the pic.
Any info on this beauty?
Signature:  Jeff

Common Buckeye

Hi Jeff,
The Common Buckeye is actually a butterfly.

Letter 17 – Common Buckeye

 

unknown butterfly
Location:  Baltimore, Maryland
September 25, 2010 7:40 pm
Hi. I saw this butterfly on the side of the house and don’t know what it is. I was thinking either a relative of an Admiral butterfly or Painted Lady. Can you tell me what kind of butterfly it is?
Signature:  Wendy

Common Buckeye

Hi Wendy,
We wanted to verify that this really was a Common Buckeye,
Junonia coenia, so we found a matching image on Bugguide.  The closed wing view in your photograph does not reveal the iconic markings of this lovely butterfly in the family Nymphalidae, the same family as the Painted Lady and Red Admiral.

Letter 18 – Common Buckeye

 

Common Buckeye Butterfly
Location: Melbourne, Florida
February 21, 2011 7:42 pm
Took this picture Sunday, thought I’d share it! This beauty was trapped in my screened porch. I was able to catch it, and before it flittered away, it let me take it’s picture! Thank you Buckeye!
Signature: Johanna van Daalen

Common Buckeye

Hi Johanna,
Thank you so much for sending us your photo of this friendly Common Buckeye.

Letter 19 – Common Buckeye and Silver Spotted Skippers share an Inflorescence

 

butterflies
Location:  maryland
September 5, 2010 4:23 pm
I have different (hundreds) of baby and adult butterflies outside. Can you tell me what types these are?
Signature:  Butterflies

Common Buckeye and Two Silver Spotted Skippers

Dear Butterflies,
All of your photos are lovely, but we have just recently posted photos of Red Spotted Purples and Tiger Swallowtails.  We really like your photo of a Common Buckeye and Two Silver Spotted Skippers (See BugGuide) sharing a sedum inflorescence.  Thanks for sending your photos.  Buckeyes along with Red Admirals, Red Spotted Purples, Fritillaries, Morning Cloaks and the other Anglewings are among our favorite North American Brush Footed Butterfly species.  Vladimir Nabokov called the Red Admirals
Red Amirables, and they are also known as the Butterfly of Doom in Russia because of a swarm during the year of some 19th Century Czar (Tsar).  We would love a new photo of a Red Admirable.  We just noticed no one has ever responded to our Who’s On Top? query.  Look at it this way, there is a 50/50 chance you will be right.  Just make up the answer and let us prove you wrong.

ALERT:  We just found the most beautiful butterfly collection on the planet.
September 5, 3:50 PM.
Nabokov’s Butterfly Collection.  It includes his favorite butterfly, The Red Admirable.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Buckeye

 

Another unsolved butterfly identification
Mr Bugman,
I have recently photographed some Buckeye butterflies here in Charlotte, NC on 10/14/07. Some from the top view and from the side. However, the side shot pictures I took recently look different from a butterfly I photographed a couple of months ago in southern Indiana. I thought it was a Buckeye and now I am wondering what it is. It’s markings on the underside of the fore wing and hind wing look completely different from the pictures I took recently of the side of the Buckeye. And it is lighter in color. I tried to find one similar and I just don’t know if it is a Buckeye. Can you confirm? Thanks,
Patrick Crone

Hi Patrick,
We just noticed this additional submission from you. You are correct. This is a Buckeye and it matches an image posted on BugGuide.

Letter 2 – Buckeye Butterfly

 

are you still id-ing beautiful bugs?
I have you in my address book as one who is willing to identify bugs, beautiful or otherwise. While butterflies really don’t really classify as bugs in my lexicon, here’s a beauty that I would love to have identified. I photographed this elderly but still beautiful creature at the UC Santa Cruz (california) arboretum last August and just came across him in my images. Would you help? Many thanks,
Alice Steele

Hi Alice,
This is a Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia coenia. The larvae feed on monkey flowers and snapdragons, which probably explains its presence at the arboretum.

Letter 3 – Buckeye Butterfly

 

Two pretty bugs 1 butterfly 1 unknown to me. Florida
The first one I am not sure what it is, but it had some pretty colors on it. The other is a butterfly that I found in my garage, don’t know how it got in there but it was very pretty. It would be great if you could tell what kind of bugs these are. I live in SW Florida. Thank you for your time,
Heather

Hi Heather,
Your unknown insect is a Polka Dot Wasp Moth, and we currently have an image on our homepage. Your butterfly is known as a Common Buckeye.

Letter 4 – Buckeye Butterfly

 

Subject:  Common Buckeye, maybe
Geographic location of the bug:  Southeastern New Mexico
Date: 10/28/2017
Time: 05:54 PM EDT
I found this guy flitting around in my yard.  He landed in the grass and posed for several pictures.  I thought he was perfect for fall – brown, orange, cream, along with great eyespots.  Looking on your site, I found the Common Buckeye, they looked like a match.  For all that it is a “common” butterfly, I don’t recall seeing one before.  It looked like your last Common Buckeye submission was from a few years ago, so I thought I’d send it in.
How you want your letter signed:  Curious

Common Buckeye

Dear Curious,
We believe this is a Common Buckeye, but according to BugGuide, the similar looking Tropical Buckeye is also found New Mexico.

Letter 5 – Buckeye Caterpillar

 

found another caterpillar
We are having a ball finding caterpillars in the flower garden and watching them transform. It’s been a great educational experience for all of us and my four year old is very fascinated at the entire process. She name them all “Leah”. Anyway, I again searched all 10 caterpillar pages and was unable to locate our newest find. Could you please help. Thanks
Mitzi

Hi Mitzi,
This catepillar is one of the Nymphalidae or Brush Footed Butterflies. We are nearly positive it is the Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia. According to BugGuide, the caterpillar host plants include: “Plants from the snapdragon family including snapdragon ( Antirrhinum ), toadflax ( Linaria ), and Gerardia ; the plantain family including plantains ( Plantago ); and the acanthus family including ruellia ( Ruellia nodiflora ). “

Letter 6 – Buckeye from Argentina

 

Junonia
Hi! I found this butterfly in my backyard, in Parana, Argentina. I would like to know whether it is a Junonia evarete or another species. Thanks!
Emiliano

Hi Emiliano,
This might also be a Tropical Buckeye, Junonia genoveva, which ranges as far south as Argentina.

Letter 7 – Buckeye Metamorphosis

 

Our Caterpillar Turned into a Butterfly Today….or is it a Moth??
Hello,
I had written a few weeks back (see below), and hadn’t heard back from you…I completely understand why…no worries really 🙂 But my four year old and I decided to “keep” the caterpillar. I was going to put him outside the next morning, but woke up to him in a cocoon! I figured he’d be fine if we kept him until he emerged. And today it happened! My daughter noticed the cocoon was empty and his short visit was over. Thought you might like a before and after shot 🙂
Brittany Clarke

(09/28/2007) Caterpillar Question
My four year old found this little guy in the grass. We live in the northwestern part of Virginia & was wondering what kind of caterpillar this is. After looking through your site, the closest I can guess is a Mourning Cloak or Brush Footed??? Your help is much appreciated!!!! 🙂
Brittany Clarke

Hi Brittany,
Thank you so much for your patience, both at our lack of response, and with the wait for your Common Buckeye caterpillar to metamorphose into the adult Common Buckeye butterfly.

Letter 8 – Buckeyes

 

Subject: Buckeyes in Central Minnesota
Location: St. Augusta, MN
May 24, 2012 2:14 pm
Hello Bug-nuts!
This Spring continues to be without equal in my fifty-plus years of insect watching. On the afternoon of the 22nd, I was out in the butterfly garden when a half dozen buckeyes blew in.
For those who are lucky enough to get these spectacular butterflies, that may not seem all that remarkable, but I haven’t seen one in 25 years. It was thrilling!
Luckily, I was out there with my camera, and the butterflies were hungry. They loved our chives, and I got good photos.
Chives are a lot more than just a topping for baked potatoes.
Thanks for your excellent site. As you know, I am a big fan.
Signature: Don J. Dinndorf

Buckeyes

Hi Don,
How lucky are you to have seen such a large number of Buckeyes, especially after so many years without seeing any.  Your photos are wonderful.  We often let many plants in our vegetable garden to go seed because of the insects that are attracted to the blooms.  Carrot blossoms and onion blooms are both very attractive to a large number of pollinating insects.

Letter 9 – Common Buckeye

 

Common Buckeye
After viewing the butterflies in your site, this appears to be a Common Buckeye. I like the coloring on this one, I found interesting reading on how the eye on the butterfly is a light lavendar when fresh, and changes eventually. Some appear quite different in color. This butterfly landed on my friends young daughter in Bella Vista Arkansas. I was fortunate to see the Butterfly migration this year in southern california. The sky was filled with them for a few days going over the house.
Steph Hart

Hi Steph,
We just had someone write in with a caterpillar ID and it was a Common Buckeye. Next day he sent in the new Chrysalis and now you have completed the metamorphosis for us.

Letter 10 – Common Buckeye

 

Moth
Ran into this beautiful moth while hiking in the S.F. Bay Area. I have been unable to identify it. Can you help me? Thanks,
Dale

Hi Dale,
This isn’t a moth but a Common Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia coenia. Larval foods include monkey flowers and snapdragons.

Letter 11 – Common Buckeye

 

mystery moth
Hi again:
I looked through all of the moth photos and didn’t see one like this on your website. It was resting on a leaf in our yard in central North Carolina (Piedmont region) this morning. It wasn’t very big – maybe 3 inches across with its wings spread. Can you help me identify it? As always, thanks.
Sandy

Hi Sandy,
The Common Buckeye, Jononia coenia, is a butterfly, not a moth.

Letter 12 – Common Buckeye

 

Hi, I was wondering if this is a moth or butterfly and what kind it is. I shot him among my marigolds in St. Marys, Georgia. Thanks,
Regina Wiss

Hi Regina,
Your butterfly is known as the Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia.

Letter 13 – Common Buckeye

 

Butterfly ID?
Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 4:03 PM
I photographed this butterfly sunning on the deck by the pool in early Sept. At first it looks quite plain, but some of the detail is stunning! I guess I am going to have to invest in some good insect id books to go with my new camera!
Sara Edwards
NW Tennessee

Common Buckeye
Common Buckeye

Hi Sara,
This beautiful butterfly is known as the Common Buckeye.  We hope its human namesakes, all those Ohio voters in the Buckeye Swing State, get out to vote.

Letter 14 – Common Buckeye

 

Tan and Rust Colored Butterfly
September 27, 2009
Hi,
I’m having no luck identifying this butterfly. I took this photo in a conservation area along the Mississippi river. Any help you can offer will greatly be appreciated.
Thank you!
Sheri
Northeast Missouri

Common Buckeye
Common Buckeye

Hi Sheri,
We believe your butterfly is a Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia.  The dorsal view is quite distinctive.  The ventral view has more subtle, and somewhat variable markings, but we matched your photo to an image on BugGuide.

Letter 15 – Common Buckeye

 

Common Buckeye
Location:  North Middle Tennessee
August 1, 2010 6:52 pm
Hi Daniel,
I ran across this little fellow in the yard yesterday. I know you have some of these already on your website. But it is so beautiful I just wanted to share it. Thank You for all that you do and have a wonderful day.
Richard

Common Buckeye

Hi Richard,
Your photo of a Common Buckeye is lovely, and this will be our last posting of the morning, at least until we finish writing a comment letter to a Mitigated Negative Declaration regarding a proposed condominium project in the neighborhood that we promised we would write.  We will try to identify your wasps later in the day.

Letter 16 – Common Buckeye

 

6 “eyes” moth ?
Location:  White Oak, Maryland
September 16, 2010 1:09 pm
I think this is a moth due to the flat posture, but my wife snapped the pic.
Any info on this beauty?
Signature:  Jeff

Common Buckeye

Hi Jeff,
The Common Buckeye is actually a butterfly.

Letter 17 – Common Buckeye

 

unknown butterfly
Location:  Baltimore, Maryland
September 25, 2010 7:40 pm
Hi. I saw this butterfly on the side of the house and don’t know what it is. I was thinking either a relative of an Admiral butterfly or Painted Lady. Can you tell me what kind of butterfly it is?
Signature:  Wendy

Common Buckeye

Hi Wendy,
We wanted to verify that this really was a Common Buckeye,
Junonia coenia, so we found a matching image on Bugguide.  The closed wing view in your photograph does not reveal the iconic markings of this lovely butterfly in the family Nymphalidae, the same family as the Painted Lady and Red Admiral.

Letter 18 – Common Buckeye

 

Common Buckeye Butterfly
Location: Melbourne, Florida
February 21, 2011 7:42 pm
Took this picture Sunday, thought I’d share it! This beauty was trapped in my screened porch. I was able to catch it, and before it flittered away, it let me take it’s picture! Thank you Buckeye!
Signature: Johanna van Daalen

Common Buckeye

Hi Johanna,
Thank you so much for sending us your photo of this friendly Common Buckeye.

Letter 19 – Common Buckeye and Silver Spotted Skippers share an Inflorescence

 

butterflies
Location:  maryland
September 5, 2010 4:23 pm
I have different (hundreds) of baby and adult butterflies outside. Can you tell me what types these are?
Signature:  Butterflies

Common Buckeye and Two Silver Spotted Skippers

Dear Butterflies,
All of your photos are lovely, but we have just recently posted photos of Red Spotted Purples and Tiger Swallowtails.  We really like your photo of a Common Buckeye and Two Silver Spotted Skippers (See BugGuide) sharing a sedum inflorescence.  Thanks for sending your photos.  Buckeyes along with Red Admirals, Red Spotted Purples, Fritillaries, Morning Cloaks and the other Anglewings are among our favorite North American Brush Footed Butterfly species.  Vladimir Nabokov called the Red Admirals
Red Amirables, and they are also known as the Butterfly of Doom in Russia because of a swarm during the year of some 19th Century Czar (Tsar).  We would love a new photo of a Red Admirable.  We just noticed no one has ever responded to our Who’s On Top? query.  Look at it this way, there is a 50/50 chance you will be right.  Just make up the answer and let us prove you wrong.

ALERT:  We just found the most beautiful butterfly collection on the planet.
September 5, 3:50 PM.
Nabokov’s Butterfly Collection.  It includes his favorite butterfly, The Red Admirable.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

2 thoughts on “Common Buckeye: Essential Facts and Tips for Butterfly Enthusiasts”

  1. Thanks for the information. I looked at pictures of both the Common and the Tropical Buckeye. When I was trying to identify my guy, I only found pictures that identified the butterflies as Commons. I did not realize that there were two Buckeyes that are so similar. It could be either of them.

    Thank you for providing such a wonderful resource to all of us backyard bug watchers. I have used your site to identify many of my tiniest neighbors.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the information. I looked at pictures of both the Common and the Tropical Buckeye. When I was trying to identify my guy, I only found pictures that identified the butterflies as Commons. I did not realize that there were two Buckeyes that are so similar. It could be either of them.

    Thank you for providing such a wonderful resource to all of us backyard bug watchers. I have used your site to identify many of my tiniest neighbors.

    Reply

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