Sunday, September 30, 2012

Common Buckeye Butterfly

Junonia coenia, the common buckeye butterfly, is chestnut brown. The forewing has two orange bars and two bull's-eye spots; a white band surrounds the larger spot. The hindwing also has two spots; the upper one contains a purple crescent. Click to enlarge. 
Buckeye caterpillars come in various forms but usually have an orange head, a black body with white and orange side stripes, and spiky blue spines along the top. More spines grow from orange bumps along the sides. Click to enlarge. 
The buckeye is common throughout most of the United States, living year-round in the southern states. Every year when weather warms in late spring and early summer some buckeyes go north to colonize areas as far as southern Canada.  Northern populations move southward in autumn, sometimes migrating in large numbers. Adults and caterpillars overwinter in the southern parts of the range.

Buckeyes are found in fields of flowers, open ares, roadsides, gardens, and parks. I saw dozens of adults and caterpillars this weekend while walking in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge on the New Jersey coast near Atlantic City.


  1. I had this butterflly in my Sacramento garden today. Youur post doesn't mention northern cal. it is a beautiful butterfly

    1. It is pretty and one of my favorites. It is common in most of the US, except for the northwest, so no surprise for one to show up in Sacramento. Enjoy!