B.eneficial I.nsect F.iles Spotlight: Common Buckeye Butterfly
The common Buckeye butterfly (junonia coenia) is a butterfly seen frequently across most of the United States, Central America and even some areas of Canada. Buckeyes belong to the butterfly family, nymphalidae, better known as brush-footed or four-footed butterflies. This family also includes such species as the Monarch, Red Admiral, Fritillaries, and Emperors. This species is easy to distinguish because of the colorful “eyespots” on both sides of the wings as well as the light-colored bars on the tips of the forewings.
Buckeye markings were most likely developed to serve as a warning to predators like birds. They are also “seasonally polyphenic”, meaning their coloration/pigmentation varies slightly across several generations throughout the year. This allows them to camouflage themselves easily depending upon the season. In the summer, adults display a light yellow linea on the forewings, while autumn adults display a pink linea. Presumably, this coloration change allows them to blend in better as foliage changes colors going into fall.
Like other butterflies, buckeye’s perform a wonderful service to nature by being an efficient pollinator of many types of flowering plants. Buckeyes love just about any plant of the snapdragon family, but also feed heavily on verbena, milkweed, aster and coreopsis. Host plants include verbena, snapdragon and ruellia (also known as wild petunias).