July 2007 – Peacock Butterfly – Inachis io
The Peacock Butterfly gets its name from the similarity between the eye pattern on its wing and those on the Peacock’s tail feathers.
It is a very attractive, fairly common butterfly and is easily identifiable from it’s distinctive markings. This one was seen in the cemetery on the morning of July 7th 2007 and sat still, sunbathing on the trunk of a holly tree for long enough for the picture to be taken.
An interesting fact about the Peacock Butterfly is that unlike other butterflies that have a short life span the Peacock can live for as long as 11 months. The adults hibernate during the winter in hollow trees, rock crevices, stone walls and sometimes in unheated buildings.
Adults emerge from hibernation from March onwards with numbers peaking in late April. They quickly mate and females lay eggs in large, irregular clusters on the undersides of young nettle leaves. The black shiny caterpillars are conspicuous in June as they build communal webs over the growing tips of the nettles on which they feed. They strip the plant bare and then moving on to a fresh one. Eventually the caterpillars disperse to pupate suspended from the vegetation. The resulting offspring emerge as butterflies usually from late July onwards.
The butterflies feed during the rest of the summer to build up fat reserves and they also spend time looking for a suitable location to hibernate. They begin hibernation around September and October.
Related Website: Butterfly Conservation
Website URL: http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/species/peacock/index.php