Diagnosis: This butterfly has a distinctive pattern and slightly scalloped wing margins. On the upperside, all four wings have a large and a small eyespot, the large one on the forewing in a contrasting white band across the wing tip, and there are two orange bands near the costa at the base of the forewing. The underside is paler and the upperside features are repeated. Females are noticeably larger than males. Wingspan: 37 to 45 mm.
Subspecies: Only the nominate subspecies occurs in Canada.
Range: This is a widespread U.S. species, mainly southern except in migratory years. There is a single record from Nova Scotia, several from northern Ontario, north to Geraldton, and a number from southern Manitoba. Most records are from southern Ontario and southern Quebec, north as far as Quebec City.
Similar Species: None in Canada.
Early Stages: The larval foodplants in Canada are plantain (Plantago spp.) and plants in the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae), especially toadflax (Linaria spp.), gerardia (Gerardia spp.), and snapdragon (Antirrhinum spp.). The larvae are grey, spotted with white and yellow and with branching spines.
Abundance: This is normally only a rare stray in Canada, but in good migrant years temporary colonies can become established, and the Common Buckeye becomes locally common for one season.
Flight Season: In southern Ontario, migrating butterflies show up first in June and, if colonies are established by egg-carrying females, they can last through several generations to early September.
Habits: The Common Buckeye is usually seen flying in disturbed areas where its weedy foodplants are found. It has a rapid flight and is very territorial.
Remarks: At Ottawa, other than a single specimen taken in 1966, and one seen in 1996, the Common Buckeye has been observed only in 1981, when there was a major invasion with three temporary breeding colonies formed. These attractive butterflies were seen flitting about an old gravel quarry, where toadflax and gerardia were abundant, for several months.
© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.
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Date Modified: 2010-05-31