8 Amazing Peacock Butterfly Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

The peacock butterfly is an amazing creature that deserves our attention. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but its wings also have a special ability to protect them. Here are some facts about these beautiful creatures that can amaze you.

Peacock Butterfly
Scientific name: Aglais io
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Genus: Aglais

1. Peacock butterflies are stunning 

The peacock butterfly (Aglais io), is also called the European peacock. Their name is derived from Io, the daughter of Inachus from Greek myth. That’s why this butterfly used to be called Inachis io. Although they are now known as Aglais io, the words Aglais and Inachis are equivalent.

The species is one of the most colorful butterflies in the world. You can easily recognize them by the brilliant colors on the topside of their wings. They have a scarlet color with black and grey borders.  

On the wings, there are many eyespots that are similar to peacock eyespots. This can explain why the insect’s common name is the peacock. Those eyespots are a combination of navy, yellow, black, and white.

However, not all peacock butterflies have eyespots. Some will have not eyespots at all, which is very rare. Those butterflies are known as blind specimens.

In contrast to the bright colors of the tops of the wings, the wings’ underside is dark brown, This coloration is similar to that of barks and dead leaves. The peacock butterfly has a size of 1 – 2 inches in length and its body is coated in brown spiky hairs. It has two long antennae and two huge eyes.

The male and female have identical markings on their wings. Their only sexual dimorphism is their size. The male is smaller than the female. Their wingspan is somewhat more than two inches. The biggest peacock butterfly has a wingspan of 2.7 inches.

The butterfly is frequently confused with the Io moth (Automeris io). This moth also has bright colors with eyespots. However, it is yellower and has a bigger wingspan which ranges from 2.5 – 3.5 inches.

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2. Their eyespots are for defense

The peacock butterfly has its own protection mechanisms against common predators. Rodents, small birds of prey, as well as other avian species like pied flycatchers, are their main predators.

To hide from predators, peacock butterflies camouflage. They will fold their wings to hide the dazzling hues and show the deep brown coloration of the wings’ underside. With this color, they can effortlessly blend in with their surroundings and mimic dead leaves.

The peacock butterfly protect itself by the eyespots pattern

When a predator, such as a bird or a rodent, approaches, the butterfly immediately spreads its wings, showing its eyespots. The predator is taken aback and believes it is seeing the eyes of a greater animal!

However, this might not work for some rodent species or the hiding locations are not bright enough. In this case, the peacock butterfly emits a hissing noise by swiftly rubbing its wings together. This way can ward off predators.

3. Habitat and distribution 

Peacock butterflies live in Europe (England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), Asia (Japan, Korea, and northern Iran), and between the two continents (Russia, Turkey, and Siberia).

They favor temperate settings such as woodlands, open fields, grasslands, meadows, and gardens. They can also be found in valleys and mountains up to 8,200 feet in elevation.

Peacock butterflies are powerful flyers with the ability to migrate great distances. They prefer to move constantly from place to place, rather than having a fixed home.

4. They play an important role in the ecology

Among bees and moths, peacock butterflies are important pollinators. They play a crucial role in the environment by aiding in the reproduction of flowers through pollination. Pollens adhering to them are transmitted from one flower to another when they suck the nectar.

5. They hibernate in winter

Because peacock butterflies reside in temperate climates, the winters are harsh for them. The weather is extremely cold and food is scared. To survive, they need to hibernate in winter.

To prepare, these butterflies try to eat as much as they can. Then they transform their blood sugar into glycerol. This chemical is used as an anti-freeze for the upcoming cold season.

In autumn, they seek safe locations with reasonably stable temperatures and protection from chilly winds. They prefer dark places such as hollow trees, lofts, sheds, wood heaps, stone walls, and buildings. During this time, they rest with their wings closed. This allows them to fade into the darkness and sleep uninterrupted. Usually, a small group of butterflies will overwinter together.

Peacock butterflies hibernate together/Cre: Picasa

If the peacock butterfly is startled while sleeping, it will make a rattling sound by opening and closing its wings repeatedly to ward off predators. The insects will sleep from roughly September until February.

Because of this technique, the peacock is always among the butterflies that first emerge in the spring. If the weather is warmer in March, those insects will come out of hibernation to look for food.

Planting flowers with rich nectar can attract peacock butterflies to your garden)   

6. Diet 

Like other butterfly species, peacock butterflies eat the nectar of many flowering plants. Willows, ragwort, clover, buddleia, dandelions, and thistles are among them. They can only perceive yellow, green (emerald), and red flowers.

The insects also feed on sap and honeydew. In early fall, they may also consume decaying fruit to store energy for hibernation.

The peacock caterpillars create group to eat

Compared to the adults, the caterpillar of the peacock butterfly doesn’t have such a varied diet. They mainly consume the leaves of their host plants. They can be hop, common, and small nettle. Their foods don’t include vegetables, so you don’t have to worry about your backyard garden.

The caterpillars eat in a group. They work together to create a community web on the leaf where they dwell and feed. When the food source runs out, they relocate to another region of the plant and create another web. When growing up, the caterpillars eat individually.

7. The male is extremely territorial

Male peacock butterflies are very territorial. Because the males with a large area are more likely to draw the females. That’s why they intensively guard their territory, which includes breeding locations, drinking holes, and food sources.   

They perch on a high item to observe passing flying creatures, protect their territory, and search for a mate.

However, during the summer, when the breeding season is over, they will shoo away all females.

The spiritual meaning of the peacock butterfly is a happy marriage, pride, good health, and luck. A butterfly’s life cycle can represent personal transformation.

8. Life cycle

Peacock butterflies live a lonely life except for the mating season. They follow monandrous systems, meaning they only have one mate for a period of time.

The insects will mate after hibernation and before their death. These happen in the same month. After breeding, in May, the female will find sunny places to lay big clusters of up to 500 eggs. These ridged green eggs are deposited on the underside of the leaves of host plants like nettle or hop. The eggs look a lot like those of the Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.

These beautiful species often give only one generation per year. However, in warm summers of southern counties (like Cornwall), they can produce second smaller broods.

The peacock eye butterfly goes through a complete metamorphosis. The eggs hatch in 1 – 2 weeks after being laid. They’re glossy and have a jet-black color with white dots. Along their back, there are black spikes that are used to threaten enemies. Their venom, however, is not dangerous to humans.

The larvae can have a size of 1.6 inches (42 millimeters) in length and primarily eat nettle plants. At this stage, they can be highly parasitized by species of tachinid fly.

They have to experience 5 phases of development known as instars. During the process, they shed their skin multiple times and reach 1.6 inches in length when the process ends.

They pupate alone, with the insect enveloped in a cocoon. Like other butterfly species, the pupa needs to be linked to leaves and stems. The chrysalis could be brown, pale green, or grey; and there are sharp edges along it. Its color is the reflection of the color of steam, leaves, and the environment.

The butterfly appears in approximately 2 weeks, around July. At this stage, they are storing fat in preparation for the upcoming winter.

The entire transition process takes a few months. It begins in March, April, or May and ends in July. Adult butterflies keep the same appearance for the rest of its life. The lifespan of the peacock butterfly is quite long, in terms of insects’ life. They can live for 11 months.

9. Peacock Butterfly – Jigsaw Animal Puzzle



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