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Copyright by: Beryn Harty
Medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan measuring up to 2-1/4 inches. The upperside is brown with a wide creamy-white postmedian band, a lower eyespot on the forewing and an upper eyespot on the hindwing. The band above the forewing eyespot is flushed with pink. There is a narrow orange submarginal band on the hindwing. The inner edge of the eyespot on the forewing is orange-brown. The underside is brown, with a white postmedian band on the hindwing. The caterpillar is black, with black legs and bluish-black, branched spines. The head has short spines and a pair of short, branched spines on top.
Florida, West Indies, and Central America.
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Locally rare all year in South Florida and the Keys. Caterpillars are present all year.
Open and disturbed areas, including fields, brushy areas and sandy islands.
Three or more broods per year. The green eggs are laid singly on the host plants.
Tropical buckeyes typically fly horizontally within 5 feet of the ground, even when defending territory. Mating flights are lower than those of the common buckeye.
Caterpillars feed on the leaves of host plants. Larval host plants include the native blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis). Adults nectar on that species, native species of Tournefortia, and species of Lantana, some of which are not native. Adults also may nectar on the weedy native Spanish-needles (Bidens alba var. radiata).
The taxonomy of the butterflies in the genus Junonia has been uncertain for many years. The species of Junonia are known to hybridize, making identification challenging. The presence of the host plant for a particular species may be helpful, but should not be used to confirm the presence of that species. Based on recent molecular and morphological analysis by Lalonde (2016), the tropical buckeye (formerly Junonia genoveva) has been reassigned as Junonia zonalis, following Felder and Felder (1867) and the mangrove buckeye (formerly Junonia evarete) has been reassigned as Junonia nieldi, following Brevignon (2004). The name Junonia genoveva is now restricted to a South American species. For more information, visit Butterflies and Moths of North America and Butterflies of Cuba.