Tag Archives: Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

A Snapshot In Time

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

While chasing a decidedly camera-shy Common Buckeye butterfly yesterday afternoon, I came upon a fleeting segment of natural wonder.

Beneath a patch of zinnias an asclepias seedpod was having a moment. Walls of the okra-shaped pod had separated, revealing rows of seeds attached to white, silky threads.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Patterns in nature are fascinating and here the seeds are aligned, held back by gentle tufts of silkiness.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

I went inside to grab some clippers imagining this would make a great focal point for a floral design.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

In my brief two-minute absence nature carried on with its script, sending the necessary amount of wind across the flower bed, releasing the seeds into the world. Wind dispersal sends seeds away from the parent plant, in this case carried atop silky parachutes. Stunned it had happened so immediately I failed to even photograph the mostly bare stems left behind.

Eventually I managed a distant shot of the butterfly, a satisfying consolation and another fine example of nature’s fondness for pattern.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’ (Hardy Chrysanthemum)

Garden Delights

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

Another busy week is done that left little time for the garden. There were warm, humid days, stormy days, bright days with the bluest sky imaginable and on this sunny first of October morning the air has a refreshing chill (before warming to 78°F).

On the last few days of September, in brief segments measured merely in minutes, I wandered the garden to recharge, each time finding some small delight.

I have had a few monarchs visit each year but Tuesday marked the first time I have seen a viceroy. Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) is distinguished by the black line across the veins on its hind wings.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

I spotted another yesterday (or perhaps the same one returned, but I think the black vein looks thinner).

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

My incarnations of  Dahlia ‘Cafe Au Lait’ have not always been true to the catalogs but one plant in particular sometimes throws up a pretty one.

Dahlia ‘Cafe Au Lait’

Dahlia ‘Cafe Au Lait’

There were several other butterflies of note, a Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) and a Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes). These are commonly sighted where I live but fairly infrequent in my garden.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

A few dianthus plants are blooming more easily now the weather is cooler.  How is this for a colorful greeting?

Dianthus Ideal Select Mix

The small skippers were everywhere midsummer but numbers have declined significantly in the past 5-6 weeks.  iNaturalist is my goto source to identify skippers (mostly fieries, ocolas).  I found another clouded skipper this week.

Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)

An interesting creature, if not the loveliest, this grasshopper tried to hide from the camera.

Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis)

Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis)

I will finish with a quick video of the black swallowtail, frenetically searching for sustenance among lantana flowers.

 

Early September Scenes

It has been a hot, dry week. The garden is turning toward autumn.

Dahlia ‘Gallery Art Deco’

Dahlia ‘Gallery Art Deco’

Dahlia

Dahlia

Zinnia

Dahlia ‘Tsuku Yori No Shisha’ and D. ‘David Howard’

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) (Waterlogue filter)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) on Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Butterfly Sightings Today

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Today was an interesting time for seeing a variety of butterflies in my garden.  Checking twice for a few minutes each time yielded some firsts for me, novice that I am. Nothing I saw is rare or unexpected for this county at this time of year, but it was exciting nonetheless to see so many different things here in one day.

11:17-11:25 am
Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) First of year (saw one last year August 15, 2019)
Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus) First life sighting
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

12:33-12:48 pm
Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) 3 yellow and 3 dark morphs (6 total).
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) (same individual as earlier judging by the missing tail)
American Snout (Libytheana carinenta) First life sighting
Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) (spotted one earlier session but couldn’t get photo)
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

[Addendum: Later in the afternoon around 3:30 pm I saw a Black Swallowtail on zinnias in front yard, but had no camera handy.]

I spent most of the first session watching this beautiful creature with its gorgeous blue. It checked out verbena bonariensis briefly but once it found the lantana nearby it was content to stay put.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Just as the swallowtail drifted to the back side out of view, this amazing skipper landed beside me.  The tail of the long-tailed skipper definitely stood out as did the blue coloration. I had about 5 seconds to enjoy it before it flew off.

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

While eating lunch I had seen a white butterfly flash by so I stepped back into the garden with the camera for session 2, but of course it was not in sight. I checked out the butterfly bush where six Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were hanging out.

A Silver-spotted Skipper landed out of nowhere. I have seen several this week. A quick photo shoot sent it off elsewhere, so I went back to the E. T. Swallowtails.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

A Monarch landed on nearby Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) and posed.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Moving to the southern border where the lantana is I spotted (probably the same) Pipevine Swallowtail again.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Across the garden I noticed action in the northern border. In the iris bed feeding on salvia is where I saw my first ever American Snout (Libytheana carinenta).  I was not sure what it was but “snout” came to mind!

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

Taking one more glance around I spotted a Common Buckeye. I had seen one earlier but could not get a photo.  Perhaps it was the same one, no way to know. Lovely and distinctive markings make it fun to see.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

The white butterfly reappeared. It was a Cabbage White.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

 

Garden Observations

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

It has been too hot for me to want to garden but occasionally I step outside with the camera to survey the visitors.

Early this morning I spotted a skipper flying erratically among Verbena bonariensis flowers along the front drive.

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

In the main garden in the back yard a large bush of common lantana draws many insects, as does the nearby Blue Sky salvia, both growing in the southern border. In the western border along the back fence a butterfly bush offers enticement.

Unlike last week when they merely passed through, several eastern tiger swallowtails spent the day.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

In addition to the swallowtail, this morning in quick succession I enjoyed seeing some favorites return.  There was a male monarch in good condition bouncing back and forth between the lantana and salvia.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

While photographing the monarch a Common Buckeye appeared, first one this year for me.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Can you spot where it fled to escape my persistent camera?

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

I left the common buckeye alone once the first Hummingbird Clearwing of the season suddenly came into view. It has an easily recognizable profile.

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

The Hummingbird Clearwing didn’t stay still but it stayed around long enough for me to take portraits.

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

Within just a few minutes I was cheered to see such interesting creatures. Hope the garden is feeding your soul this August.

 

Sharing The Garden

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Multiple heavy storms this week have my friends complaining, “Enough water!” but by some fluke of nature, promising dark clouds bypassed my neighborhood day after day, time and again. So this afternoon when a nice steady rain started up, I welcomed it readily.

One benefit of the need to be out watering yesterday morning was the enjoyment of seeing bees and hummingbirds sipping from the flowers. I also spotted a beautiful butterfly atop Echinacea purpurea, so came back out later with my camera. I welcome corrections because my identification skills are woefully undeveloped and potentially unreliable, but according to me, this one is Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia).

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeyes are found all over the United States, except in the Northwest. And supposedly here in the south where I live, they are well, rather true to their name, common; however, I do not see them commonly, so one picture was not enough.

When the butterfly is fresh its eye spots have a lavender tint.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Here the butterfly is sharing politely with a bee. There is a little sliver missing from its upper left wing.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Eventually the butterfly drifted toward the ground to light upon Phlox subulata (Moss Phlox).

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Its ventral wing coloring is lighter in spring and summer, helping to camouflage itself. In fall and winter the color darkens to a rosier hue.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Another insect that caught my attention yesterday was the Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus). It is also is found abundantly in this area of North Carolina. For the longest time I tried to discern shades of coloring and markings (chevrons, smudges, spots?) to identify if this is male or female. Still not sure, but I am guessing female.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) On Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) On Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) On Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) On Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

The club-shaped ends of the antennae are black on the outside and orange on the inside.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

I will close with a look at one flower I am especially enjoying this week. It is a striking shade of my favorite garden color—blue. The black calyces and stems add contrast and drama.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’