South American Tropical Buckeye
Junonia evarete (Cramer, 1779), the Tropical Buckeye or South American Tropical Buckeye, is a South American butterfly of the Nymphalids (Nymphalidae) family. It has characteristic eye spots on the wings, which have a wingspan between 4.5 and 6.5 cm. This butterfly is easily confused with Junonia genoveva, the mangrove buckeye. Not only have the common names mangrove and tropical buckeye been confused, but the butterflies themselves have been sometimes misidentified in past literature, because the two species have many variations, subspecies and seasonal forms, which makes it difficult to identify or differentiate. Phylogenetic studies demonstrate the separation of evarete and genoveva, but evidence suggests that subspecies and perhaps additional species await their descriptions within this group.
The Tropical Buckeye is found in tropical and subtropical South America. It inhabits tropical plains, shrub and scrub areas, islands, primary and secondary forests, and urbanized and suburbanized habitats. Adults are nectarivores. Males generally stay in the vegetation or on the ground waiting for receptive females, even all day long. The female deposits her eggs, individually, under the leaves of the plants. The larvae feed on the leaves, preferably on the plants Mock Vervain (Glandularia carolinensis), Cayenne snakeweed (Stachytarpheta cayennensis) and White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa). With a very fast and low flight, the tropical buckeye prefers open and sunny fields.
Junonia nigrosuffusa and Junonia zonalis were formerly subspecies of Junonia evarete, but were elevated to the species rank as a result of phylogenetic and DNA research. As a result, the geographic range of Junonia evarete is limited primarily to South America.