The peacock butterfly has a very beautiful pattern on its wings, and therefore it is sometimes even kept at home. It is unpretentious and tolerates captivity well if the conditions are right. In nature, it can be seen in almost any warm month, but they are much less common than urticaria or cabbage, especially in cities.
Origin of the species and description
Lepidoptera appeared a very long time ago: in the early Jurassic period, almost two hundred million years BC. Gradually, they developed, more and more species appeared, and they actively settled around the planet along with the spread of flowering plants across it.
In the course of evolution, the proboscis was formed, they began to live more time in the form of adults, more and more species appeared with large and beautiful wings. The final formation of many modern species is attributed to the Neogene – the peacock eye appeared at the same time.
Video: Peacock butterfly
He, along with about 6,000 other species, is part of the vast Nymphalidae family. It looks like hives, which is not surprising, because they are included in the same genus. His wings are the same black and orange tone, and stand out only with a brighter and more beautiful pattern.
The description was first made by Cal Linnaeus in 1759. Then he received the species name Papilio io. Then it was first replaced by Inachis io – this name was taken from the mythology of Ancient Greece, and combined the name of King Inach and his daughter Io.
But in the end, this symbolic combination had to be replaced by Aglais io, in order to correctly determine the place of the species in the classification. There is also a nocturnal peacock eye, but this species is not closely related: it belongs to a different genus and even family.
Appearance and features
The main color of the wing at the same time looks like a urticaria, a rich orange tone prevails.
But the opposite side of the wings looks completely different: it is dark gray, almost black. This coloration flies like a dry leaf and allows it to remain almost invisible to predators on tree trunks when it hibernates or just rests and closes its wings.
Their span is larger than average – about 60-65 mm . They have a jagged outer edge, along which a stripe of a light brown hue runs. The body is plump, like in other types of urticaria, a developed oral apparatus with a proboscis.
The butterfly has compound eyes of a complex structure. There are six legs, but only four are used for walking, and the front pair is poorly developed. Sexual dimorphism is pronounced: females are much larger compared to males.
Interesting fact: The brightness of a butterfly’s color is determined by how warm the weather was during pupation and pupal development. If it was cool, the wings will turn out to be paler, and in very warm weather the shade will become especially saturated.
Now you know how the daytime peacock eye butterfly differs from the night one. Let’s see what the bright diurnal butterfly eats and where it lives.
Where does the peacock butterfly live?
In large areas, including almost all of Europe and most of Asia. These butterflies prefer a temperate and subtropical climate, therefore they are easy to meet in Russia, as well as in the rest of Eurasia, except for the tropical south and deserts, as well as the tundra.
Their concentration is especially high in Germany, in general in Central Europe . They also live on many islands located around Eurasia, for example, in Japan. But not at all: for example, the peacock eye did not reach Crete. For some reason, these butterflies are not in North Africa, despite the climate suitable for them.
Most often they can be found in forest clearings and household plots – they love areas near forests, but at the same time well-lit by the sun and rich in flowers. They rarely fly into the thick of the forest, because there is not enough sun there, and there is also a risk of damaging the leaves by flying through too dense vegetation.
They can also live in moderately mountainous areas up to a height of 2,500 meters, they are no longer found above. They love forest parks, and even more so city parks, are found in gardens, clearings, as well as along the banks of lakes and rivers – in a word, walking in nature, this butterfly can be found even in the city. But their numbers are clearly orders of magnitude lower compared to the same urticaria.
Often, the peacock eye migrates over long distances to find a more suitable habitat: they can fly tens or even hundreds of kilometers, although they it takes a lot of time – the butterfly cannot overcome a long distance at a time, it needs to replenish its strength with nectar and rest, basking in the sun.
What does the peacock butterfly eat?
The nectar of numerous plants.
- dandelion ;
- felt burdock;
- and many others.
Most of all he likes buddleia. Nectar is the main and perhaps the only source of vitality for an adult butterfly, but besides it, the peacock’s eye is also attracted to tree sap – therefore, they can often be seen on trees drinking it.
Another favorite drink is the juice of fermented fruits, they are often fed to butterflies in captivity, because it is relatively easy to get it. You can also dilute honey or sugar in water to feed the butterfly – sometimes small pieces of fruit are also added to this solution. In captivity, a butterfly needs to be fed daily.
For caterpillars, the food plants are:
An interesting fact: Butterflies can also hibernate in a warm room, but in this case its life processes will not slow down sufficiently, and will be too active. As a result, she will either come out of hibernation already old and will fly for a very short time, or even die during hibernation.
Because if a butterfly is in your apartment in winter, it is worth it carefully take out and place in a secluded place, for example, in the attic. Then her hibernation will pass correctly.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
In the form of an imago, it appears at the beginning of summer and enjoys life until September – more precisely, until the time when the autumn cold comes. These butterflies spend a significant part of their lives in flight, and it can be both active and passive – thanks to their wide wings, they save energy by simply gliding.
Active only in the light of the sun – it barely starts to get cold in the evening, as they are looking for a place to stay. They love sunlight and heat very much, because they need a lot of energy to fly – therefore they can bask in the sun for a long time before starting the next flight.
They also need good weather to fly. Therefore, if the rainy and cold periods are prolonged in summer, diapause occurs at the peacock’s eye – the butterfly falls into a short summer hibernation. Usually she spends up to a week in it and returns to active life immediately after it becomes warm and sunny again.
Peacock eye is a real long-liver, in total, not counting hibernation periods, she can live up to a year. After the onset of cold weather, it goes to winter. It is noteworthy that in a particularly warm area, the peacock eye can overwinter a second time, and wake up again from hibernation in the spring.
Thus, you can meet this butterfly in the subtropics for most of the year – from March to October. Of course, in temperate latitudes this is much less likely, in the spring only butterflies accidentally awakened by a thaw can be found, and they fly for a very short time.
Alas, death will surely await them, because a butterfly that wakes up ahead of time spends a lot of energy and cannot replenish it in the required volume – although sometimes she manages to find shelter and continue wintering in order to wake up again when it becomes really warm.
In order to overwinter, she needs to find a place where it will not be as cold as in the open air, but not warm either: she can climb under the bark of trees, into the depths of the forest floor, onto balconies and attics. The main thing is that this place is protected from the cold and predators.
During hibernation, the butterfly can withstand freezing temperatures, although their impact is undesirable. But she will not be able to respond to the attack, as well as replenish her nutrient reserves – therefore, you need to choose a secluded place and stock up on them in advance.
Social structure and reproduction
These butterflies live alone. When the breeding season comes, the males divide the territory among themselves, after which each waits for the appearance of the female. When this happens, he begins the mating ritual, which includes joint flights with mating dances. Butterflies also spread pheromones around them, by which it is easier for them to find each other.
As a result, the female is fertilized and lays a hundred or several hundred eggs, almost always on nettles. They take a week or two before caterpillars emerge from them – in warm weather this happens faster, and in cold weather it takes longer.
These insects are characterized by complete transformation. Caterpillars of the first generation appear in May, and the second in the middle of summer. At first, they remain in the brood, and when they grow up, they crawl away from each other and begin to live separately.
The caterpillars are dark in color and covered with long spines, although in fact they offer little protection from predators, but are designed to at least scare away some of them. The caterpillar looks really very impregnable, but predators are already accustomed to this species, although it can really work on young and not particularly hungry ones.
In total, the peacock eye lives in the form of a caterpillar for about a month, and its main occupation is time is food. She gnaws a leaf almost continuously, and grows 20 times, her weight increases even more. Then she pupates and spends in this form, depending on the weather, 10-20 days – as in the case of the transformation from egg to larva, the warmer, the faster it passes this form.
The pupa can be attached to tree trunks, fences, walls, depending on the color of their surface, its color may also differ, mimicking the environment – it can be from light green to dark brown. The chrysalis, like the caterpillar, has thorns.
When development ends, finally, breaking the cocoon, the crown of development of the butterfly appears, the imago, its adult form. It will take just a little time to get used to the wings, after which she will be completely ready to fly.
Peacock’s natural enemies
Butterflies have many enemies in all forms – they are in danger at any stage of life. Adult butterflies – to a lesser extent than the rest, but even they often die in the claws or beak of predators.
They are hunted by:
- large insects;
It was to protect against these enemies that the peacock eye acquired such a bright color. It would seem that she does not help at all in this, on the contrary, she gives out a butterfly! In fact, when her wings are open, she is always alert and ready to fly away from a predator, but when she rests, she closes them, and merges with the bark of trees.
If the predator nevertheless noticed it and attacked it, it sharply opens its wings, and for a moment disorients it due to a sharp change in color – this brief moment is sometimes enough to save. Most often, butterflies die because of birds, which are much faster and able to grab them even in flight. It is more difficult for other predators to do this, so all that remains is to lie in wait for them.
Caterpillars are hunted by the same predators as adults, and even more actively – caterpillars are more nutritious, moreover, they are much less mobile, and certainly cannot fly away. Therefore, a significant number of them are exterminated – it is already a great success to live to the cocoon, and even to the adult – even more so, because the chrysalis is even more defenseless.
As in the case of adults, caterpillars suffer the most from birds that love to fly into their clusters and eat them in dozens at once. But reptiles with rodents are almost not far behind: it is difficult for them to catch an adult butterfly, but a larva is a completely different matter. They are even threatened by ants, which, through coordinated actions, can kill a caterpillar that is much larger than them.
They still have ways to defend themselves from enemies: they can take a threatening posture, as if they are going to attack themselves, they start at all the sides spread apart if they still live together – so at least a part will survive, curl up into a ball and fall to the ground. They may also exude a green liquid to deter predators.
Population and Species Status
Security the peacock eye does not have the status, since it does not belong to rare species – there are quite a lot of them in nature. But their numbers gradually decreased throughout the 20th century, and the same trend continued in the first decades of the 21st century.
So far, the situation is far from critical, however, measures to protect this butterfly in certain areas should be taken, otherwise its range may be reduced – in a number of areas the population has decreased to almost critical values.
This is due to the poor environmental situation, in particular, the active use of pesticides. And the main problem is the reduction of the areas occupied by plants that serve as a food base for caterpillars. In some areas, they are practically gone, and butterflies are disappearing after them.
Interesting fact: When keeping a butterfly at home, it must be euthanized for the winter. To do this, feed it, and then put it in a jar or box (ventilation holes are required) and put it in a cool place – the best temperature for wintering is 0-5 ° C.
A glazed balcony is best, but you can also put the butterfly in the refrigerator. If a transparent jar is chosen and it will stand on the balcony, you should take care of its shading – the lack of light is also important. Therefore, a balcony is preferable to a refrigerator, because the latter will turn on the lighting when opened.
The peacock butterfly does not cause any harm to cultivated plants. Despite this, it is suffering from human actions, its population is gradually declining, and it has almost ceased to be found in some areas where it used to be widespread. Therefore, you need to try to protect it and help lost butterflies survive the winter.