Peter's Canyon, Orange, Orange County, CA. 7-31-06. © Ron Hemberger

Common Buckeye

Junonia coenia (= Precis coenia)

Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae

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Peter's Canyon, Orange, Orange County, CA. 10-6-05. © Ron Hemberger


Peter's Canyon, Orange, Orange County, CA. 10-14-05. © Ron Hemberger


Irvine Park, Orange, Orange County, CA. 11-1-06. © Ron Hemberger


Peter's Canyon, Orange, Orange County, CA. 7-31-06. © Ron Hemberger

Peters Canyon, Orange, Orange County, CA. 10-10-08. © Ron Hemberger

Peters Canyon, Orange, Orange County, CA. 10-10-08. © Ron Hemberger

Bear Canyon, San Mateo Wilderness, Riverside County, CA. 06/13/10. © Peter J. Bryant.

San Mateo campground, San Onofre State Beach, Orange County, CA. 4/3/12. © Robert Gorman

Characteristics: Medium-sized butterfly, with two large multicolored eyespots on dorsal hindwing and one large eyespot on dorsal forewing. Background color primarily brown.

Similar Species: None

Habitats, Behavior: Males "patrol" a site and will usually fly after any large insect passing by. If one misses catching coenia on the first try, often all one has to do is sit and wait. The butterfly frequently returns to the same spot. The Buckeye is often seen perching on protruding branches or resting on bare ground.

Distribution: This species is usually encountered in the undisturbed or semi-disturbed foothills and lowlands of Orange County. It is also occasionally seen in vacant lots of cities and towns.

Flight Periods: The Buckeye is multiple brooded; adults are recorded from February to November in Orange County. The Buckeye is apparently most common in June and again in September.

Larval Foodplants: Listed by Emmel and Emmel (1973) as Plantain (Plantago erecta; also the foodplant of Euphydryas editha wrighti), Plantago lanceolata (Eurasian introduction, locally frequent in Orange County), Monkey flower (Mimulus spp.) and garden snapdragon (Antirrhinum sp.). Ehrlich and Ehrlich (1961) also list Sedum sp. (stone crop), Verbena prostrata, and others, but these would doubtfully ever be used here. Sibylle Hechtel (manuscript submitted) has found larvae on one occasion on Orthocarpus purpurescens along the southeast side of highway 133, about six miles southwest of Interstate 405 (San Diego Freeway) in Orange County.

Other Remarks: This butterfly is becoming more scarce in lowland Orange County with the destruction of suitable habitats. The butterfly is relatively common in June by the stream in Silverado Canyon.

From Orsak, L. J. (1977). The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Center for Pathobiology Miscellaneous Publication #3. University of California Press, New York. 349pp.

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