Contents ] SmallTortoiseshell ] [ Peacock ] Pearl-borderedFritillary ] DarkGreenFritillary ] Silver-washedFritillary ] MarshFritillary ] 

peacock   <>   AGLAIS io   <>   péacóg  


Peacock butterfly, Co.Clare 2005.  ©DHardiman
  © Deirdre Hardiman    

Habitat:  The Peacock butterfly like the Small Tortoiseshell is widely distributed and can be found in most habitats. It may be frequently seen on nectar plants such as thistles at any time of the year except for a period in June/July. 
It has a single brood annually.
Larval  Food PlantCommon Nettle Urtica dioica
flight time:   It becomes active on the first warm sunny day
                           of spring sometimes as early as late March 
                           and flying until early May or later.

                           Mid-July to mid-September (first generation). 

                           Hibernates Mid-September to February or
Hibernation:   Overwinters as an adult butterfly.

This is arguably the most spectacular of the Irish butterflies.
Its name arises from the butterfly's peacock-like eyes on each hindwing. In contrast, the underwings are grey-black 
and provide excellent camouflage.
Butterflies seen from November to February have probably been disturbed during their hibernation.


Peacock butterfly, Co.Clare 2006.  ©DHardiman
© DHardiman  2006 



Life Cycle of  the


Ovipositing begins in May when olive-green oblong eggs are deposited in large clusters of 300-400 eggs and 
in layers, under the young leaves of Common Nettle Urtica dioica.


The larvae hatch within 7-21 days and like the Small Tortoiseshell they spin a tent on the top of the plant
by drawing a few leaves together with silk where they live, moult and feed together.  When these leaves are 
consumed they move on to fresh leaves to build another retreat.  The mature larvae are velvety black with finely  
speckled white dots and many black spines.  After about one month, when fully grown, they disperse to pupate. 

  Caterpillars feeding on nettles - before and after meal                       © DNash


The pupa is suspended, vertically downwards, by the cremaster from a silken pad spun on the vegetation up to a metre
from  the ground.  The pupal stage c.2-4 weeks.

Peacock pupa suspended on nettle    © DHardiman 2009

  Peacock pupa                  © DHardiman 


Adults emerge  from mid-July onwards  and are in reproductive diapause.  They seek out the nectar of  flowering
plants, especially Buddleia and Thistle in order to build up body reserves for hibernating.  They usually enter 
hibernation by mid-September.
of the adult takes place in tree trunks, dark buildings and occasionally in houses from about mid-
September to the following spring  when they resume flight on the first warm sunny day. 
They are seen on the wing  from c.late February to early March onwards, when mating and ovipositing takes place.

Peacock                       © DHardiman 




 Contents ]

 SmallTortoiseshell ] [ Peacock ] Pearl-borderedFritillary ] DarkGreenFritillary ] Silver-washedFritillary ] MarshFritillary ] 

Hesperidae ] Pieridae ] Lycaenidae ] Nymphalidae ] Satyridae ] Migrants ] .