Whoever watches the Buckeye, especially the light-colored dry-season forms, sees a fighter, and sometimes, sadly, a cocky little bully. Buckeyes have been known to attack almost every thing they see in flight, from dragonflies to hummingbirds and to supposedly dangerous wasps. They have been known to bully the large black and white winged Carolina Locusts until these poor grasshoppers almost give up trying to fly at all! Probably the Buckeye’s rapid, wary and nervous flight, combined with a high ability at dodging, gives it the feeling it can get away with its bullying attacks without any chance of being hit back. This also makes it hard to catch with a butterfly net except for the fact that it loves to visit flowers and mud puddles where it may become so absorbed in drinking that it is easily caught.
Buckeyes range clear from southern Canada down to South America and have many color variations. In general, if the climate is wet, the butterfly is usually dark colored and not so active; if the climate is dry, the butterfly is light-colored and very active. As winter approaches the adults go into hiding in cracks and crevices where they sleep out the cold season, though a severe winter will kill most if not all of them. New ones migrate up from the south the following spring. The six eyes on the wings of the Buckeye may be of some help in scaring away birds the might try to attack it.
Buckeye caterpillars are light green and look quite shiny. They feed on Gerardia, Snapdragon, Toadflax, Stonecrop, False Loosestrife, and Plantain. The chrysalis is of extraordinarily delicate beauty, looking as if made of bronze laced with metallic green.
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