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Posts Tagged ‘Common Buckeye’

What do you think of when you hear the word “common?” Although this term can refer simply to the frequency with which something is seen or experienced, it often has a derogatory connotation of inferiority. For that reason, I am often uncomfortable with the use of the word “common” in the name of many species.

I could easily argue, for example, that this Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) that I spotted on Tuesday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge is uncommonly beautiful. The orange markings and wonderfully-colored eyespots make this a stunning butterfly. Yes, I see this species quite often, but its distinctive beauty never fails to take my breath away.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As I was wandering about Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge earlier this week, I was struck by the large number of Common Buckeye butterflies (Junonia coenia) that I observed. Not only were there a lot of them, many of them appeared to be in almost pristine condition, unlike the tattered survivors of other butterfly species that are hanging on this late in the season.

I decided to do a little research and learned from bugguide.net that Common Buckeyes have two to three broods throughout the year from May to October. I had suspected that was the case and that helps to explain the “fresh” condition of the butterflies that I observed. What was a little more surprising to learn was that, “Adults from the south’s first brood migrate north in late spring and summer to temporarily colonize most of the United States and parts of southern Canada.”

I don’t know if the Common Buckeye butterflies in my area will migrate south to avoid the freezing temperatures that will soon be upon us or if they will remain with us. In either case, I love to see these little butterflies and marvel at the way that their colors fit in with nature’s autumn color palette.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I spotted this amazing looking caterpillar alongside a pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. I have not yet been able to identify it, but I was really struck by the stunning blue dots and the prickly spikes that run the length of the caterpillar’s body. Often these types of spikes are an indication of a venomous stinging caterpillar, so I kept my distance as I was taking this shot. Click on the image if you want to get a closer look at the wonderful details of the caterpillar.

UPDATE: Several helpful folks have weighed in and have identified this as a Common Buckeye caterpillar (Junonia coenia). Thanks for the help.

caterpillar

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Wednesday I spotted this colorful Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) perched on some goldenrod at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. The fact that the butterfly was facing downward gives this image an abstract feel that I really like. My mind does not immediately register that this is a butterfly and instead focuses on the wonderful shapes and colors.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the real joys of the summer is having the chance to see colorful butterflies, like this Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) that I observed last week at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. I am not sure what creature has been munching on the vegetation on which the butterfly is perched, but I really like the way that the holes in leaves mirror the circular shapes of the butterfly’s eye spots.

Common Buckeye

Common Buckeye

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The brightly colored summer butterflies have mostly disappeared, but Common Buckeye butterflies (Junonia coenia) still accompany me in great numbers as I walk the trails of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The subdued, earthy shades of this beautiful butterfly seem a perfect match for the autumn season.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The directional lighting from the back and side gave a cool and dramatically uncommon vibe to this image of a Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) that I photographed on 31 August at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The ground is saturated and rain continues to fall, so I am not sure that I will be out and about today with my camera. It is actually a good thing, I think, to go back and look over my photos—I sometimes get so caught up in taking new photos that I don’t stop and look over my slightly older ones. I am often pleasantly surprised to discover some jewels, like this image.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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We are deep into autumn now, but some butterflies are still hanging in there, like this beautiful Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) that I spotted during a recent trip to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was actually a little shocked to see quite a few of these butterflies flying along the paths of the wildlife refuge and in some of the open areas. The challenge for me was getting one to pose in a way that would convey a sense of autumn. I was therefore thrilled when this one perched on a fallen leaf and and kept its wings wide open long enough for me to capture this shot.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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If it hadn’t been moving, I am pretty sure that I would not have spotted this Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) on Friday at Huntley Meadows Park. The butterfly was perfectly camouflaged among all of the fallen leaves and even in this cropped image you have to look hard to see it.

Common Buckeye

I am also including a copy of the original image, in which the butterfly is even harder to find. The image reminds me of some of the complicated jigsaw puzzles that my Mom used to like to do when I was a child. I remember one puzzle that was a circular one depicting a plate of spaghetti. Needless to say, my Mom had a lot of patience and persistence.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) was so focused on the goldenrod flowers that it was either unaware of my presence or simply didn’t care on Monday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge. I was therefore able to capture the beauty of the butterfly from a somewhat unusual angle that lets us see some of the wonderful markings on the body as well as on the wings.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I first spotted this small Common Buckeye Butterfly (Junonia coenia) as it was flying low above a grassy patch at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge. Periodically it would stop and I would attempt to get a shot of it. It was probably hilarious to watch our little pas de deux—the butterfly would fly and perch and I would bend my knees and crouch, which served as a signal for the butterfly to take off again.

I’m pretty patient, so we danced this way for quite a while before the butterfly decided to perch on some low vegetation rather than on the bare ground. I was finally able to capture a shot, though the butterfly didn’t pose long before taking off again.

Common Buckeye

As I continued the chase, my knees started getting a bit sore. I was thinking of giving up the chase when suddenly the butterfly flew higher into the air and landed on a buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). These bushes are a virtual magnet for butterflies and I love the spiky spheres of the plant. I wasn’t able to get very close to the buttonbush, but captured this image that I really like.

Common Buckeye

The chase ended here and we went our separate ways. I hope that I never get too old or too self-conscious to chase butterflies, a pursuit that makes me feel like a carefree child again.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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At first I thought it was only a leaf blowing in the breeze and then I slowly came to realize that it was a Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia), an unexpected sight in mid-November.

Although faded and tattered, this survivor butterfly is still spectacular, despite its “common” name.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Though it is officially called “common,” the bright colors and patterns of this Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) make it uncommonly beautiful in my eyes. (I should also note that it is not common for me to spot one—I’ve seen them only a few times this summer.)

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Butterflies in November? I didn’t really expect to see any, so it was a pleasant surprise when I came upon this Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on Monday at my local marsh. The butterfly is beat-up and bedraggled, but its beauty beams brightly—uncommon beauty at an unexpected time.

buckeye_nov_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although I don’t live in Ohio, nicknamed “The Buckeye State,” I think that I can claim that Virginia also is a Buckeye state, because we are a home to the uncommonly beautiful Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia).

Common Buckeye butterfly

I have seen few colorful butterflies so far this summer, besides the Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies that I featured in a posting in June. Where are all the Monarchs and Eastern Swallowtails? I don’t know if they were affected by the polar vortex of this past winter or if I am merely looking for them in all the wrong places, but their numbers seem to be unusually low this summer.

I was therefore thrilled this past Monday, when I caught sight of this Common Buckeye. Its coloration is so distinctive that I immediately recognized it and chased after it a bit. Fortunately I was able to capture several images of this beautiful creature before it flew out of sight.

Looking at these images, I am happy to proclaim that I live in a Buckeye state.

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buckeye2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday was a common day for finding subjects to photograph. I already posted a photo of a Common Whitetail dragonfly. Here’s a photo of the Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia).

A month ago I featured the Common Buckeye in a posting after my first encounter with this type of butterfly. Yesterday I was shooting in the middle of the day and there was more sunlight that I would have liked when. However, I managed to get a shot of the butterfly in which the sun is shining through one of its wings, highlighting the beauty of those wings. There are still some harsh shadows in the photo and the colors are not as saturated as they would have been with more diffused light, but I find that the colors and patterns of this butterfly make it uncommonly beautiful.

Common Buckeye butterfly in mid-September

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I continue to be mystified by the names of the insects that I photograph. Yesterday I spotted this very striking butterfly that I later learned is called the Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia).  What makes it common? If it’s so common, why have I never seen one before? The vivid colors and prominent eyespots make it anything but common to me.

Common Buckeye butterfly

Here’s another view of the butterfly. The internal tear in the wing makes it clear that it is the same specimen. If you want to learn more about the Common Buckeye, check out this article on the BugGuide website, which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite places to browse and research.

Common Buckeye butterfly

One interesting fact about the Common Buckeye is that it was featured on a 24-cent US postage stamp in 2006. If you want to see what the stamp looks like, visit the Arago website. Arago, named after François Arago, a 19th century French scientist and friend of James Smithson, is a resource of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

One of the nice things about living in the Washington, D.C. area is having access to the Smithsonian Museums, most of which have free admission.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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