Skip to main content

A blue buckeye

No, I'm not talking about a disgruntled Ohio State Buckeye fan. Or an abnormally pigmented nut from a tree. The subject is the common buckeye, Junonia coenia, one of our showier butterflies. Buckeyes wander northward in late summer and fall, and we get variable numbers of them in Ohio from year to year. Last year was a boom year; this season has brought another bumper crop. If you watch butterflies at all, you're no doubt familiar with this ornately marked species.

But you may not be familiar with blue ones. I wasn't. Brad Deering kindly shared the following photo of a luxuriantly colored specimen that he found yesterday in central Ohio.

Photo: Brad Deering

Our colorful buckeye in repose and upstaging a normally colored buckeye. Quite the showstopper, eh? Buckeyes often have a bluish wash on the forewing, near those two orange bars, but nothing to the extent of this specimen. I imagine this individual is merely an exceptional example of blue pigment gone a bit wild.

In a quick bit of research, I didn't find much about this phenomenon, but it does surface from time to time. CLICK HERE and you'll see a photo from Flickr that is quite similar to the individual that Brad found.

And then there are THESE PEOPLE. Employing the same mentality that causes the nursery trade to ruin perfectly good native plants, they are forcing the selection of blue in buckeyes. By isolating individuals that were naturally showing blue pigment on the forewings and crossing them with each other, they have apparently created a super race of wild looking buckeyes. Hopefully they are not releasing these genetically engineered specimens to the wild. If not, kudos to them for conducting a fascinating experiment that shows how rapidly morphological changes can occur in an animal population.

If you know more about "blue" common buckeyes or have seen one, please do share.


Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.

So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…