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European Peacock butterfly

Facts About the Peacock Butterfly

The peacock butterfly has an astonishing pattern that has evolved to look like eye-spots that confuse predators. These wing markings are easy to recognize, and they have made this one of the best-known butterfly species. Under the wings, there are dark colors that look like dead leaves for predators that may be approaching from below. The peacock butterfly is fairly large, it’s a strong flyer, and its preferred habitat is sheltered woodland clearing.


This species is nomadic, it ranges over long distances, and it’s a common garden buddleias visitor during the late summer months. In this article, we will explore some interesting facts about the peacock butterfly.


Features Of The Peacock Butterfly


Facts about the peacock butterflyThis butterfly is also known as the European peacock butterfly, and it’s one of the larger species with a wingspan of just over two inches. The female has a smaller wingspan, but both sexes can be easily identified by their red wings that have blue, black, and yellow eye-spots on the wing tips.


The top of the wings is truly spectacular, but the undersides are black and dark brown like dead leaves. The males have a single elongated segment, but the female has five and their head and body are covered with hair.


The front legs are shorter and used for cleaning only. The peacock butterfly has a pair of large eyes, two antennae to detect air currents, and a proboscis for feeding.


A pair of forward-facing protrusions protect the proboscis from damage. The cocoon is brown or gray/green in color with a pair of horns at the head. The caterpillars have a shiny black color with a series of spines projected along the back.


Where Does The Peacock Butterfly Live?


The peacock butterfly has a habitat that extends across the temperature regions of Europe and Asia. They tend to live in gardens, meadows, fields, pastures, and woodland clearings. They live in both lowlands and mountain regions up to altitudes of around 8,200 feet. This species is found in Britain, Ireland, Turkey, Iran, Korea, Japan, Russian and even regions in Eastern Siberia.


Interesting Facts About The Peacock Butterfly


Peacock butterfly1/ This butterfly has a vast diet in caterpillar form, but the appetite is much smaller after the transition. The caterpillars focus on nettle plants, and adults feed on nectar from clover, dandelions, willows, and other plants.


A peacock butterfly will also feed on rotten fruit and tree sap when available. Because peacock butterflies can only perceive red, green and yellow colors, this limits their options when they search for food sources.


2/ A male peacock butterfly is territorial, and it sets up territories in spots where a female is likely to encounter him. Some popular locations include areas with a lot of food and watering holes.


The mating season begins immediately after the hibernation period, and a female can lay up to 500 eggs in a nettle plant dense area. A caterpillar grows up to 1½” long, it’s black, and it has white dots and barbed spikes down its back.


3/ A peacock butterfly can be found in temperate areas, but it’s vulnerable to a lack of food and freezing winter temperatures. To survive in these conditions, the butterfly will hibernate in hollow trees, woodland crevices, and home attics from September to February. The adults will gather as much nectar as they can to survive the winter, but rodents and other hungry predators are a constant threat.


4/ This butterfly has two main defenses against potential predators, including: rodents and birds. First, the peacock butterfly has crypsis which is the process of blending into the environment with a dead leaf appearance. If this fails, the butterfly will flash its wings to display the eye-spots and generate a hissing sound that scares away many predators.


Frequently Asked Question’s


How rare is a peacock butterfly?  


In the past, the peacock butterfly could be observed moving in larger herds and they could be seen in virtually every temperate climate. But, now this butterfly is rarer in the world due to deforestation and destruction to their environment.


Not all threats to these spectacular butterflies are from human sources, and the species is under threat from several predators, including: rodents, birds and insects.


Some of the more prolific hunters of these butterflies are sparrows, blue jays, red jays and certain species of fireflies! The numbers of these butterflies have been in steady decline since at least 2010. But, conservationists are taking steps to preserve the peacock butterfly before it’s too late to save them from extinction.


What is special about the peacock butterfly?


The peacock butterfly mates during flight, they are migratory and they make regular journeys from northern regions to southern areas. An adult can travel up to 2,000 miles and back again in around five months.


This migratory behavior has endowed the peacock butterfly with some interesting characteristics. As an example: This butterfly doesn’t lay eggs on plant stems or tree branches like other butterflies because it lives in open grassy areas where there are fewer trees.


Where do you find peacock butterflies?


Emerging and metamorphosis of beautiful peacock butterflyThis butterfly can be found in the aforementioned European and Asian locations as well as parts of South America. The peacock butterfly will migrate from the cold winter temperatures to warmer locations.


These butterflies are regular visitors to wooded areas and urban gardens in the UK. This is because these gardens have the Erythrina plant which is a viable food source for peacock larva.


How long do they Live for? 


A male or female peacock butterfly can live for up to 11 months.


How can you tell if a peacock butterfly is male or female?


On closer inspection a male peacock butterfly has a single elongated body segment. When you observe a female of the species they have five segments with head and body hair coverings.


Do peacock butterflies hiss? 


Yes, this is one of the more unusual characteristics of peacock butterflies. They can emit a loud hissing sound that combined with their eye spot wing display can scare away some predators.


Wrapping Up


The peacock butterfly is under threat from a variety of sources, including: predators, deforestation, environmental damage and more. If you have peacock butterfly visitors, you can offer some extra protection by weaving natural fencing around their preferred areas. Allowing the growth of nettle plants gives the females a great place to lay their eggs. These efforts can help this endangered species to survive and ultimately thrive again.


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