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Common Buckeye

Scientific name: Junonia coenia

This stunning butterfly earns its common name from its distinctive “eyes” on its wings, perhaps an evolutionary adaptation to ward off predators. A medium size butterfly at about 2 to 2 1/2 inches, the female is usually larger than the male. Males might be seen on the ground drinking water from sand, mud or even dead animals!

This butterfly comes to our area in summer from southern Florida. Unlike the monarch, it has a variety of host plants which is why it is not endangered. A host plant is that specific plant needed for a butterfly to successfully reproduce. The egg is laid upon the leaf and once the caterpillar is hatched, it eats the leaf and grows. Eventually, it will move off the host plant and become a chrysalis. A week or two later, the butterfly will emerge. Watch this video to see the butterfly begin its life as an egg and finally metamorphosis into a butterfly.

The Buckeye is one of the more skittish butterflies and alert to movement. The male can be quite territorial and will chase off other males.

This beautiful photograph by Steve Rappaport was taken locally. Did you recognize the beautiful milkweed flower upon which the buckeye is nectaring?

Photo credit: Steve Rappaport
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Will enjoy nectar from many different flowers, especially asters, milkweeds, zinnias, and others that have composite flowers.  A composite flower is a flower that looks like one big flower but is actually made up of many smaller flowers.

In the video, you can see how the butterfly uses its probiscus, which acts like a straw, to drink nectar from the flower. It will also sip the sweet liquid from fruit using its probiscus.


Will be found in open sunny areas such as old fields, roadsides, gardens and parks.

Life Cycle

Multiple generations are born each year, with the population reaching its apex in late summer. The buckeye cannot tolerate the cold, so it will not overwinter here.


The buckeye lives in Southern Florida and migrates as far north as Canada in the summer months.

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