Sunday, January 9, 2011

Butterfly of Winter

I saw another Common Buckeye today when not much else of the insect variety was showing itself in the cooler temperatures. Somehow "common" doesn't describe them at all...they are quite regal-looking with their numerous eyes on colorful wings.

The photo here is one from after the first freeze in December as I was not quick enough to capture today's brave soul with the camera. You can click the picture to see it full size.

Junonia coenia is the scientific name for this species which uses several different larval hosts in Florida which in my garden include: fogfruit (Phyla nodiflora); toadflax (Linaria spp.); plantain (Plantago spp.) twinflower (Dyschoriste spp.) and bluehearts (Buchnera americana). Based on this long list (there are other hosts too), the caterpillars aren't particularly fussy.

They are a little on the shy side...darting off if you cast a shadow too closely, but every now and again they will be so enthralled in a flower or hanging out in the gravel driveway that you'll get a good photo. And they sure do help brighten a winter day.

Be sure to visit over at for great ideas on attracting wildlife to your own garden.

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