Common Buckeye (64)
|Family: Nymphalidae, Brush-footed Butterflies view all from this family |
Description 2-2 1/2" (51-63 mm). Wings scalloped and rounded except at drawn-out FW tip. Highly variable. Above, tawny-brown to dark brown; 2 orange bars in FW cell, orange submarginal band on HW, white band diagonally crossing FW. 2 bright eyespots on each wing above: on FW, 1 very small near tip and 1 large eyespot in white FW bar; on HW, 1 large eyespot near upper margin and 1 small eyespot below it. Eyespots black, yellow-rimmed, with iridescent blue and lilac irises. Beneath, FW resembles above in lighter shades; HW eyespots tiny or absent, rose-brown to tan, with vague crescent-shaped markings.
Similar Species West Indian Buckeye lighter and redder, has smaller eyespots of nearly equal size on HW above.
Life Cycle Egg dark green, stubby, ribbed, flat-topped. Caterpillar, to 1 1/4" (32 mm), dark or greenish to blackish-gray with orange and yellowish markings. Wide variety of host plants include plantain (Plantaginaceae), figwort (Schrophulariaceae), stonecrop (Crassulaceae), and vervain ( Verbenaceae) families. Chrysalis, to 1" (25 mm), mottled pale brown.
Flight 2-4 broods; year-round in Deep South, elsewhere March-October.
Habitat Shorelines, roadsides, railroad embankments, fields and meadows, swamp edges, and other open places.
Range Resident throughout South, in North to east and west of Rockies to Oregon, Ontario, and New England.
Discussion Although the Buckeye flies in summer throughout much of North America south of the Canadian taiga, it is not able to overwinter very far north. In the autumn along the East Coast, there are impressive southward emigrations. In places such as Cape May, New Jersey, the October hordes of Buckeyes drifting southward rival those of Monarchs in number and spectacle. The classification of Buckeyes has puzzled generations of lepidopterists. They are sometimes listed under the genus Precis (which includes the Old World species) and under the old species name lavinia. The Dark Buckeye (J. nigrosuffusa) is nearly black above, with buff wing tips, orange fore wing cell bars, and smallish, blue-centered eyespots. The underside looks very different: the fore wing is orange, black, and buff with a prominent, blue-centered spot, while the hind wing is clear sandy-buff, crossed by a vague brown line or band, and has minute eyespots near the margin. This species dwells in the canyons of the Southwest from southeastern California and Arizona across southern Texas into Mexico. Its caterpillars feed on Stemodia, a member of the figwort family. Adults fly in the fall.