Junonia coenia

Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia coenia, photo © by Mike Plagens

March 8, 2009. Seen along the Apache Trail, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA.

Nymphalidae -- Brush-footed Butterfly Family

Reverse side of Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia coenia, photo © by Mike Plagens

When the butterfly is at rest the colorful top is concealed and only the cryptic reverse is visible. This buckeye has just emerged from the chrysalis, visible as an empty shell at right. May 2008 at Mesquite Wash, Maricopa Co., AZ.

last instar larva (or caterpillar) of Common Buckeye, photo © Michael Plagens

This easily recognizable butterfly is medium sized (wingspan approx 4 to 8 cm i.e., size is variable), has two large eyespots on the hind wing, one large eyespot on the forewing, plus a smaller eyespot also on the forewing. The caterpillars are usually dark brown or black and feed on a variety of plants, especially those in the snapdragon families.

In the Sonoran Desert this butterfly is most commonly encountered near riparian streams where its larval host plant, Seep Monkey Flower (Erythranthe guttata) flourishes. Only occasionally do these butterflies visit flowers, whereas damp, partially saline soil is very attractive.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 03 June 2008,
updated 01 July 2021.