Buckeye Watching

Buckeye butterfly (full dorsal), photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

We here spend a lot of time in the field and in the garden. For most of us, the Common Buckeye butterfly is a familiar sight. They meet us in field, in gardens replete with clover and along trails through lush, moist habitat.

How many among us give them more than a passing glance? For us, this is one of those ubiquitous butterflies, seen often and mostly overlooked. Another Buckeye . . . .

Not me. I find myself stopping to examine each and every Buckeye I see. ?. I recall Buckeyes whose wing ‘eyes,’ epaulettes, bars and bands were fresh and Rich, Rich in color. I continue to want to see ever more colorful Buckeyes. A richly hued Buckeye makes me smile.

This one here, seen in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia bedazzled me then, and my Fuji Velvia 50 film captured beautiful, beautiful color.


Buckeyes Tease

Buckeye butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Shooting a Buckeye butterfly with a Macro- lens requires that you approach within about 18″. Now how are you going to do that, with such a skittish butterfly? They are especially wary, and your careful approach is usually rewarded by . . . gone! flew! gone!

A fool’s errand is trying to make approach to a Buckeye resting on your trail, or here, at the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch (Eatonton, Georgia, A 5 **** butterfly destination), catching a breather on one of the paths. You approach robotically, you have a good feeling about your chances, and then nada! zilch! for it’s . . . . gone!

This Buckeye was nectaring on Lantana, that southeastern and southwestern cultivar that releases its sugar juices periodically over the course of the morning.

I made my Technique (see above) approach. Good. So far. Now comes the Buckeye Challenge. Meaning, Bet you can’t get all of those eyes, and Florida orange bands, and golden ring margin borders, and forewing wider bands, and forewing chevrons and forewing margin dots and wing background color, and abdomen, thorax, head, eyes, palps and antennae, together, and all in focus!

So this image is returned from Kansas, and the slide taunts. I love most of the eyes, I love other hindwing color action! but, the head, eyes, palps and more, nope!

Decision time that night. I decided to share this, for I still love those hindwings, and who knows when Virginia will once again dish up such a shmeksy! Buckeye?


Buckeye Butterfly Resting in Phipps Conservatory’s Outdoor Gardens

Buckeye Butterfly at Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh

It’s as though the paintbrush has not yet dried. This seeming work of a brilliant contemporary painter is on the Junonia coenia, the Buckeye. He’s briefly resting in the Outdoors Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, steps away from some of America’s finest museums and universities. Bands, bars and eyespots whose colors have been meticulously chosen. You see that when a fresh Buckeye flies in, a smile crosses my face.

This is the one and only look that we get when we meet Junonia c.. This is usually the best view that we’re able to get. Though when Buckeyes are nectaring, it’s often easier to move closer. Buckeyes, like Monarchs and Ladies, migrate north in the Spring and fly south in the Fall. I’ve never seen what are described as mass migrations? Have you?

Florida enjoys 2 other species of Buckeyes, the Tropical Buckeye and the Mangrove Buckeye. Those are treats that I have not yet photographed. So much to be done, so much to be done.


The Spots of a Buckeye Butterfly

Buckeye butterfly photographed at Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA

When a fresh Buckeye butterfly appears your eyes immediately lock on it. Those spots! Those chevrons! There’s a mix of eyespots, lines, and patterns. I enjoy spotting Buckeyes and this one was nice, very nice. Zinnias were prepared to share their nectar and this Buckeye was in the middle of a good-sized bed of zinnias.

Buckeyes are not seen everywhere, so if you want to find one a good place to look is a perennial garden loaded with zinnias, coneflowers, marigolds, sunflowers, salvias and hyssops.

When they’re not feeding Buckeyes speed away when you approach them, but usually land 10 feet away. When you approach them again, and then again they’re now 10 feet away.

Do you see the challenge?