Peacock (Aglais io)
The Peacock Butterfly is a species of vibrantly colored butterflies found in two local subspecies, viz. Aglais io caucasica and Aglais io geisha across its range. These are one of the large butterfly species and can be seen best from around February when they come out of hibernation. They get their name from the bright, characteristic eyespots on the wings that often remind of peacock feathers.
- Family: Nymphalidae
- Genus: Aglais
- Common names: European peacock
- Scientific Name: Aglais io
The mature larva has a glossy black head and body with bristly spikes arranged in six rows with dots on each section; can measure up to 1.65 inches (42 mm). They eat voraciously, and hence, can grow fast.
The chrysalis is pale green in color and has rugged angular depressions all over the body that help them look much like a leaf, and thus camouflage easily.
Sexual dimorphism: Females are marginally larger than males.
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the primary color of the wings is rust-red with a yellow, black, and blue eyespot at each wingtip, with the colors arranged in a circular manner, with one layer each of black, yellow and blue, finishing with a red blotch at the center. When sitting with their wings spread, these eyespots make them look like some larger animal’s head. The eyespots on the bottom wings are less vibrant than the ones on the upper wings.
When the wings are closed, the color of the wings is black or dark brown on the underside, which makes them almost invisible if sitting among dead leaves.
Average Wingspan: 2.17 inches (males) to 2.36 inches (females)
Flight Pattern: Quick and gliding
Pale green to yellowish green in color with a round shape and rdges running down their surface; laid in batches of up to 400 at a time.
|Distribution||Europe and the temperate areas of Asia as far as Japan|
|Habitat||Parks, fields, gardens, meadows, pastures, and woods at elevations of up to 8,200 ft|
|Lifespan of adults||Around 11 months|
|Breeding season||Usually February|
|Host plants||Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), hop (Humulus lupulus), and small nettle (Urtica urens)|
|Adult diet||Nectar from dandelions, willows, clover, buddleia, danewort, hemp agrimony, and wild marjoram; also takes rotten fruits and tree sap|
Did You Know?
- When seen from above, as most avian predators are likely to, the eyespots and wing color resembles the face of an owl, which keeps them from attacking the butterfly.
- Males are highly territorial, chasing away all females after the breeding season.
- When surprised, they often fly off with a noisy flapping of wings producing a hissing sound by friction.
- The butterfly gets its specific name Io from a priestess of goddess Hera in Argos, mentioned in the Greek mythology.
- They hibernate through the winter season.