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Common Buckeye Butterfly
Junonia coenia
common buckeye
Commong buckeye butterfly, photographed at Pondhawk Scrub Natural Area, Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, In August 2013.
common buckeye

The common buckeye, Junonia coenia, gets its name from the series of eyespots on its wings. It is not in any way affiliated with the Ohio State University, not that there is anything necessarily wrong with being affiliated with, uh, OSU.

Common buckeyes ares pretty much common throughout Florida, found in all of the Sunshine State's 67 counties. Come fall, the population gets a big boost as common buckeyes who have spent summer up north head to the warmth of the Peninsula.

They're found throughout most of the eastern United States and even, occasionally, into southern Canada. Their range extends as far west southeastern South Dakota, Kansas and Texas. There are populations in California and Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Bermuda, parts of the Caribbean most of Mexico.

They're middling in size, with a wingspan between an inch and a half and three inches. Females are slightly larger than males, but both sexes share the same colors and patterns. They're mostly brown with two eyespots, one large, one small, on each wing. Each forewing has two orange bars near the leading edge. Each hindwing has an orange or brown line running along the rear edge. The underside can vary according to the season, tan in summer, a rich red in fall and winter.

Common buckeyes favor a variety of open, sunny habitats, particularly with low-growing vegetation. They're take to fields, fallow agricultural lands, scrubs, roadsides, utility rights of way, savannas, along beaches, the edges of forests, even parks and gardens.

common buckeye butterfly


Common buckeyes are not finicky at all about the species they'll use as host plants. The list for the common buckeye includes American bluehearts, fogfruit, plantain (the weed, not the banana), false foxgloves and Florida toadflax. Females will lay a single green egg (no ham) on the leaves of the host, where their offspring will spend their first few days munching away until they mature into pupae. The butterfly produces at least three generations during the year.

Common buckeyes migrate northward during the warmer months, then starting in late summer, they begin to hightail it to Florida for the winter. Florida's resident population is active year round.

The common buckeye's eyespots are believed to be a form of defense, supposedly fooling would-be predators into thinking that they're dealing with something more than a mere butterfly Common buckeyes are also known as the buckeye butterfly and brush-footed butterfly. It is a member of Nymphalidae, the brush-foot family.

Photographs by David Sedore
Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without their express permission.