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Junonia coenia


Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia coenia, photo © by Mike Plagens

March 8, 2009. 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. The buckeye has just emerged from the crysalis, visible as an empty shell at righ. 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., highly 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 family.

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

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2008