The common buckeye is a medium-sized butterfly with several large, conspicuous round eyespots. Adults have a wingspan range of 45 to 70 mm.The females are larger bodieed than males and have more rounded forewings. The upper surface of the forewing has a broad white postmedian band that touches and often encircles a single eyespot. The forewing has two highly visible orange strips with the surface of the backwing having two eyespots and a broad orange submarginal band. Underneath of the backwings are seasonally variable. Those produced in wetter seasons during summer have light brown hindwings with noticeable pattern elements while those produced in the dryer winter months display darker reddish-brown coloration overall.
The common buckeye caterpillar can produce multiple generations each year. Adults may be found at all times of year throughout much of the lower states, when winter temperatures are milder. Adults are quite wary of close approach. Both sexes perch on low vegetation or bare earth. Females lay the small green eggs singly on leaves of their choosen host plant.
These spiny caterpillars can deliver a painful sting when touched.