This very strikingly colourful butterfly is a very common visitor to our gardens in the summer months. Its distinctive eye-like markings are to ward off predators and are similar to the feather markings of the peacock bird, hence its name. A flash of these startling wings distracts potential attackers, giving the butterfly that crucial edge to make its escape. Note, how at a glance, the eyespots resemble a staring cat. The wings undersides are sooty brown with a little patternation, which make this ideal for camouflage. Wingspan 70mm (2 3/4in).
The caterpillars feed on Stinging Nettles, and live together in silken webs until their final moult.
It flies June to October, and again in the spring after hibernation. The adults may live up to over a year. It hibernates in the hollows of trees or inside outbuildings.
Observed almost anywhere there are nectar-rich flowers, including parks and gardens, wasteland, flowery meadows, and woodland rides. Abundant and widespread across Great Britain, apart from the northern half of Scotland.
Photographs of Peacock (Inachis io) butterfly, taken July and August 2006, front and rear gardens, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2006. Camera used Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1.