|Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)|
|Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on Speedwell (Veronica spicata)|
Lest my closeup photos give the impression that this is a large butterfly, the photo below shows it's actual size when viewed in proper perspective, without being cropped and enlarged--about the size of the small yellow flower on my Shrubby Cinquefoil. The Common Buckeye has a 'medium sized' wingspan which can range in width from 1 5/8" to 2 3/4".
This little Buckeye first came to my attention as it rested on a bed of mulch near a rock in the garden. Fascinated, I took photos as it opened and closed it's wings.
Had I not paid attention, I might have completely missed this beautiful sight, as it blends in so well with the mulch when it's wings are closed.
As I watched, the Buckeye flitted around the garden, dividing time between the yellow Cinquefoil and the
blue blooms of the Speedwell.
Since that first sighting, I have photographed more of them (or perhaps the same one?) on my Anise Hyssop
|Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on Anise Hyssop (Agastache x hybrid) 'Blue Fortune'|
...and even recognized them in a field of wildflowers and clover, while visiting my mother:
|Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on White Clover (Trifolium repens)|
I've been learning a lot about wildflowers, native plants and butterflies this summer, so you would think that the words "Oh, no!", upon eyeing caterpillars on my Speedwell today--(eating the leaves to bits)--would not have come out of my mouth:
But that's exactly what I said!
"Oh, no! What are these things doing on my plants?", said I.
I mean, I have been on the lookout all summer for Swallowtail Butterfly eggs and larvae, Monarch Butterfly eggs and larvae...but was definitely NOT prepared for larvae on my Veronica!
At first I actually thought they were those 'tent caterpillars' that make huge nests in trees. Nuisances they are! Pests!
But like the curious gardener, photographer, nature-lover and garden-blogger that I am, I ran inside and took advantage of the search features on Google.
By now, most computer-savvy people know that just about anything can be researched by typing search words and questions into the Google Search box. As usual, I was not disappointed with the results I got. These were, indeed, Common Buckeye larvae!
Many people might not find that exciting...but I do. They are most welcome here in my garden. They can eat all the leaves they want from these perennial plants. The plants will come back next year so no damage is being done.
I consider this a victory for my garden and for the continuation of wildlife in my yard! The only thing I am concerned about is whether or not these cats will fare well on a diet of Spike Speedwell leaves. Although Veronica is listed as one of the many host plants for the Common Buckeye, the Spiked Speedwell variety is not among them. Only time will tell if these cats will actually pupate and emerge as butterflies.
I really, really want to be able to call these Veronica 'Native Plants', but alas, they are not. While there are several varieties of Veronica that are, in fact, 'native' to the U.S., this European-native does exceptionally well here in my Virginia garden. It is not invasive, and in my opinion, it might as well be considered a native plant;-)
I have started a new page, called Planting Natives where I plan to feature the native plants I've added to my gardens, along with the wildlife that visit here as a result. I'll be working on the page as time permits. I created a blog of the same name and have been thinking about going 'live' with it, but have decided to put that idea on hold, for now.
Words and photos ©Thanks For Today, by Jan Huston Doble