While hiking in the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge last week, I came across an unexpected sight – a Common Buckeye butterfly! This butterfly is a familiar summer resident in Oklahoma, but seeing one in mid-November is quite unusual.
As I was walking along the trail, a flash of orange caught my eye. There, on the forest floor amongst the fall leaves, was a beautiful Common Buckeye butterfly. Its wings were spread open, revealing the large orange spots on the forewings that give this butterfly its name. I slowly approached and was able to capture the image above before the buckeye took flight again.
Back home, I did some research on this unusual sighting. The Common Buckeye is typically seen in Oklahoma from late June through early October. Though there have been rare November sightings, the butterfly’s normal flight period ends in October as colder weather arrives. The butterflies only overwinter in the far southern parts of their range.
- The Common Buckeye is found across a wide range of the Americas, from northern Argentina all the way up to southern Canada. It is one of the most widely distributed brush-footed butterflies.
- In the northern parts of its range, like Oklahoma, the Common Buckeye migrates south for the winter. Individuals that emerge late in the season will not survive the winter.
So what was this Common Buckeye doing out and about in November? While unusual, it’s not impossible for a sighting this late. Some butterflies emerge late or have a longer flight period. The unseasonably warm weather likely also played a role in this late flight. Whatever the reason, I felt fortunate to glimpse this splash of orange on an otherwise gray November day. It was a welcomed reminder of summer’s end and the wonders that can be found by exploring nature throughout the seasons.
- Date: 11/13/23
- Time: 11:14 AM
- Camera: Canon EOS R7
- Lens: EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
- ISO: 500
- Aperture: 8
- Shutter: 1/800
- Exp. Comp.: 0
- Lens (mm): 400
- Program Mode: Manual