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12 Interesting Facts About Peacock Butterflies

The peacock butterfly is arguably one of the most beautiful butterflies in the world. They are vibrantly colored insects that are found in Asia and Europe. They thrive in gardens, woodlands, and parks, and love to bask in the sun with their stunning wings spread open.

Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about peacock butterflies.

12 Facts about Peacock Butterflies

Unless you are a butterfly enthusiast, this may be the first time you have heard about the peacock butterfly. These interesting and delicate-looking creatures play an important pollination role, and knowing more about these useful insects can help increase their numbers. Keep reading to learn more facts about peacock butterflies.

1. It’s Named After the Peacock

Peacock butterfly on flowers
Peacock butterfly on flowers | image by Airwolfhound via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Peacock butterflies are named after the peacock bird because the insect features eye spots on each of its wings. These dark eye spots look similar to peacock feathers and do more than look pretty.

They actually help to protect the butterfly from predators. Depending on which study you read, the reason could be because these eye spots distract predators, while other research states it’s because these spots mimic the eyes of other animals.

2. They Have Defense Mechanisms

If the peacock butterfly senses danger, it will become completely still and act as though it is a leaf blending into the background. If the butterfly feels threatened, it will rub its wings together, which makes a hissing sound. This hissing sound is enough to scare off potential predators.

3. Peacock Butterflies Have Long Wingspans

Peacock butterfly on a rock
Peacock butterfly on a rock | image by xulescu_g via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The peacock butterfly has an impressive wingspan of over 2 inches long. While this isn’t as long as some butterfly species (the monarch butterfly has a wingspan of up to 4 inches), it is larger than some butterflies.

4. They Live For Less Than a Year

Peacock butterflies only live for about 11 months. While this may not seem like a long time to you, it is impressive once you learn that most adult butterflies live for only a few weeks or few months. With that said, however, many of these months are spent in hibernation during the winter.

5. Peacock Butterfly Caterpillars Eat Leaves

Adult peacock butterflies first lay their eggs, which then hatch and become caterpillars. These caterpillars will feed on plant leaves until about June, which is when they start forming the chrysalis. After turning into a chrysalis, the caterpillar will take about 12 days before it transforms into a butterfly.

6. Males Are Territorial

Peacock butterfly perched on flower
Peacock butterfly perched on flower | image by Etienne Gosse via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The male peacock butterfly will find a territory to claim as its own. They will sit high enough where they can view anything that passes through the area. They will then defend that space, including food areas, watering holes, and their nesting sites, from other male peacock butterflies.

7. Peacock Butterfly Caterpillars Food Source

The caterpillars of the peacock butterfly seem to have a favorite food source, and that source is nettle plants. With that said, however, they will also feed on various other plants, flowers, berries, and even other insects.

8. Peacock Butterflies Are Monogamous

Peacock butterflies on pink flowers
Peacock butterflies on pink flowers | image by Linda Hartley via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

An interesting fact about peacock butterflies is that they mate with only one partner. While this may sound romantic, it is because the female mates during its pupal stage.

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Additionally, peacock butterflies spend several months of their life in hibernation, which doesn’t always leave time to find another mate.

9. They Lay Several Hundred Eggs

Peacock butterfly lays its eggs
Peacock butterfly lays its eggs | image by Daniel Jolivet via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The peacock butterfly lays their eggs in early spring, and when they do, they can lay up to 500 eggs at one time. They typically lay their eggs on the underside of nettle leaves and they do so in layers.

Birds looking for a meal will often eat butterfly eggs, and laying them in layers means that some of the eggs should survive. Their ridged eggs are olive green in color, and you shouldn’t disturb them if you find them on plants.

10. Peacock Butterflies Have Colorful Wings

Peacock butterfly wings wide open
Peacock butterfly wings wide open | image by Nikk via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The peacock butterfly produces wings that feature vibrant colors in various hues. The base color of the wings is a rust red, while the tips of the wings feature a black, blue, and yellow design that looks similar to an eye. The lower sides of its wings, however, are dark brown.

11. Peacock Butterflies Hibernate For Winter

Like other species of butterflies, the peacock butterfly will hibernate for several months during winter. To prepare for hibernation, the peacock butterfly will start to convert blood sugar into a substance that is similar to anti-freeze. Known as glycerol, this substance helps insects overwinter.

Before winter sets in, the peacock butterfly will find a safe space protected from the harsh winter winds, such as inside a shed or hole in a tree, where it can fold its wings and then sleep until winter passes.

12. First To Emerge In The Spring

Because the peacock butterfly hibernates during the winter, it is often one of the first butterflies that you will see out and about in the spring. If there are periods of warm weather in as early as March, the peacock butterfly will awaken from their slumber and go out in search for their first meal of the new year.

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