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Peacock butterfly feeding on bluebells.

FujiFilm S1 Pro. 1/250 F11, Sigma 105mm Macro, 04/05/05.

Peacock Butterflyl aqua

Peacock butterfly resting in sunshine, showing eyespots.

FujiFilm S1 Pro. 1/108 F8+ Flash, Sigma 105mm Macro lens.  24/08/2002.

Peacock Butterfly (Inachis Io)

This pretty butterfly has four large eye-spots on its brownish-red wings similar to a peacock tail feathers from which it gets its name. Many insects mimic eyes and faces to scare a predator the peacock butterfly is such an insect. When cold and unable to fly a quick flash of its bright eye pattern wings is usually enough time to startle a predator, long enough for it to warm its flight mussels and escape. It can also make an audible hissing sound by rubbing its wings together.

Peacock butterfly larvae feeding on stinging nettles. River Itchen, Hampshire - Film scan.

When the butterfly's wings are closed it's almost black subtle patterned wings are brilliantly camouflaged on a branch during summer or an outbuilding when hibernating in the winter.  Peacock butterflies usually have one generation a year, only a good year will produce a second smaller brood. The butterflies hibernate through the winter in rock crevices and hollow trees etc. I have found them hibernating in my garage and shed in the past. Unfortunately, butterflies hibernating in outbuildings and greenhouses often end up trapped against the windows or caught in old spider webs. In the spring when the weather warms with ruined wings they soon perish with no nectar to feed on, that is when butterflies need our help. If the butterfly is too exhausted to fly then they can be helped with sugared water on cotton wool or tissue. It is important for the butterfly to touch the sugar solution with their feet as butterflies have taste sensors on their feet. The Butterfly would then uncurl it's to tongue-like proboscis that it uses to drink nectar even juices from rotten fruit. It would not be long before the butterfly recovers enough to continue feeding on your garden flowers.

The Caterpillars feed gregariously, primarily on Common Stinging Nettle. Common in England and Wales.

Andy Newman Images©