A truly glorious weekend weather-wise with warm sun, mild temperatures, beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There are still loads of butterflies on the wing. Saturday was a five species afternoon, not an everyday occurrence in mid-October on Cape Ann. Monarchs were on the move, along with American Ladies, Clouded Sulphurs, Orange Sulphurs, and one of my favorites, the wholly uncommon, Common Buckeye. The gloriously patterned 3 pairs of eyespots of the Common Buckeye are meant to frighten avian predators, a scary six-eyed monster if you will, but we humans find them enchanting.
Each summer Common Buckeyes emigrate to New England from southern states. Some years we see many more than others. It’s always a delight to come upon one and I typically find them at the edge of a marsh nectaring at Seaside Goldenrod or basking in the sun on a sandy path.
Underwing (ventral) view of Common Buckeye
To see a photo collection and short film of some of October’s most commonly seen butterflies go here –
Buckeyes begin around 2:40
Common Buckeye Larval Host Plants
Female Common Buckeyes deposit their eggs on a variety of plants, both native and non-native.
Caterpillar food plants from Mass Audubon –
Many documented. In the Northeast, larvae usually feed on “members of the snapdragon family (and) plantain family” (Opler and Krizek, 1984), including Blue Toadflax (Linaria canadensis); False Foxglove and gerardias (Gerardia, species), plantains (Plantago, sp.), and Snapdragon (Antirrhinum). Buckeye larvae have been observed in Massachusetts on Butter and eggs (Linaria vulgaris) and Slender Gerardia (Gerardia tenuifolia)
And from The Butterflies of Massachusetts
Today, lacking such an abundance of gerardia, Common Buckeye’s most usual host plant in Massachusetts may be Plantago lanceolata, or lance-leaved plantain, a widespread non-native weed introduced with the arrival of European settlers. The 1990-95 Connecticut Atlas workers observed Buckeye ovipositing on lance-leaved plantain in the wild, and the caterpillars have been successfully raised on it many times, for example by caterpillar photographer Sam Jaffe in July 2011. Buckeyes have been observed in the wild ovipositing on the native purslane speedwell (Veronica peregrina) (S. Jaffe 6/21/2011), and on the non-native butter-and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris) (M. Champagne 7/14/2008). They are also reported to use blue toadflax (Linaria canadensis), slender gerardia (Agalinis tenuifolia), and sometimes non-native garden snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) (Scott 1986).