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The bold pattern of eyespots and white bars on the upper wing surface is a distinctive trait. The eyespots likely serve to startle or distract predators, especially young birds. The species has many flights throughout the year, with mostly northward migrations for the summer. Common buckeyes exhibit seasonal polyphenism, the summer version of the butterfly has light yellowish ventral wings and is called "linea". The fall morph has pink ventral wings, and is called the "rosa" morph.
Open, sunny areas with low vegetation and some bare ground. Found in one of the meadows of Yosemite NP, CA.