Peacock ( Inachis io )

BACK TOBack To Homepage Back To Butterflies Page

IMAGE (C) COLIN DUKE 2006 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

IMAGE (C) COLIN DUKE 2006 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

IMAGE (C) COLIN DUKE 2006 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

IMAGE (C) COLIN DUKE 2006 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

IMAGE (C) COLIN DUKE 2006 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

IMAGE (C) COLIN DUKE 2006 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Larval Foodplant : Stinging Nettle

The Peacock's spectacular pattern of eyespots, evolved to startle or confuse predators, make it one of the most easily recognized and best known species. It is from these wing markings that the butterfly gained its common name.

Although a familiar visitor to garden buddleias in late summer, the Peacock's strong flight and nomadic instincts lead it to range widely through the countryside, often finding its preferred habitats in the shelter of woodland clearings, rides, and edges.

The species is widespread and has continued to expand its range in northern parts of Britain and Ireland.

Identification

Large; wingspan, 60-70 mm.

Both sexes are a rich, velvety, red brown with prominent eyes at the corners of all four wings; those on the hind wings being clearer and more distinct than those on the forewings. The under-wings are a dark slate-grey with darker marking and lines on the hind-wings and lighter coloured patches on the forewings. The wings are smoothly scalloped but not to the degree found in the Comma, Polygonia c-album.

Behaviour and life history

Peacocks are strong fliers and cover large areas in search for nectar and suitable breeding sites. It is not colonial. Adults over-winter before producing a single brood. They emerge from hibernation in late March or April before laying their eggs during May. Caterpillars are around for most of June before they pupate in late June/July. Adults emerge during the second half of July and August and can be on the wing until October. There is rarely a second brood. Caterpillars feed on the Common Nettle, Urtica dioica.

Where to look for it

The Peacock can turn up almost anywhere in the city and is a common visitor to gardens and parks. However, its preferred habitats include sheltered lanes, woodland glades, rides and margins, and sunny hedgerows. The butterfly is particularly attracted to the Butterfly-bush, Buddleja davidii, in late Summer.

Distribution and status

Common and widespread

When to look for it

Adults can be seen at any time between March and October, or even later, except during much of June and July when the first brood undergoes its larval and pupal development.

Similar species

Its eyes on the wings make this species unmistakeable.