Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Form Buckeyes

Trees are not the only things changing color, and Monarchs are not the only butterflies on the move in the fall.  The Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia also has a few tricks up it sleeve... er, some interesting adaptations, so to speak.
The fall form of a Buckeye is a bit redder underwing,with little or no eye-spots.
Common Buckeyes also stage a migration south.  It is not as well-known, or as well documented as the Monarch movements, it's a much more subtle movement.  The butterflies who do not move south, die.  

Buckeyes are a southern species with a population that flows north with summer, and gently corrects south for the winter. It is not so dramatic as the Monarch and therefore goes largely unnoticed.

Buckeyes also shift their coloration to a darker, more subtle fall form.  The underwings are reddish and the eye spots are not nearly as visible from the underside.  Remember, these butterflies are not changing or molting like birds, this is a different population -the children of the spotted ones,  buckeyes seen in the early summer.

This form is probably an adaptation for cooler weather and leaves on the ground. Butterflies are exothermic; they must be warm to be able to fly- over 55 degrees.  In the fall they are sluggish in cool weather,  this color form blends well into the falling leaves when they are too cold to fly.

Studying nature- through the lens: shooting this buckeye butterfly.
 How do we know these things?  Photography is a wonderful way to study insects and plants.  Get close up!  Nothing is more fun than a pile of  nature photographers.

There is something very fulfilling about looking at nature up close, and the new digital cameras make this easier than ever.  I love to learn more from folks like John Howard and Jim McCormac.

In fact, I think we will offer a Flora-Quest option for just that- seeing nature through a lens!  Look for that and a summer moth/butterfly event.  We naturalists have a few tricks up our sleeves as well!

1 comment:

  1. Hmm Do I know any macro photographers for that trip?