Thursday, August 25, 2011

Peacock butterfly North Fife

This week has seen the emergence of Peacock Butterflies in North Fife

Peacock butterfly feeding, I don't think it will find much joy on this thistle head which is in seed.

Freshly emerged peacock, the wings not quite fully expanded.

The adults spend most of the morning nectaring. Males set up territories around midday, often on the sunny side of a wood, where they wait for a passing female. Males will fly up at any dark object, which is one way of sexing this species since the two sexes are very difficult to tell apart, being almost identical in appearance. When a female is found she flies off, trying to escape the male that is in pursuit. If he succeeds in staying with her then the pair mate. Females subsequently take great care when egg-laying, selecting foodplants that are in full sun, These usually being stinging nettles.

Adults emerging in summer nectar on a variety of flowers, building up essential body fats before overwintering.

The Peacock is a familiar sight in gardens across the British Isles and is unmistakable, with quite spectacular eyes on the upperside of the hindwings that give this butterfly its name. These eyes must appear very threatening to predators, such as mice, that confront this butterfly head-on. The underside is a different matter altogether, being almost black, providing perfect camouflage when the butterfly is at rest on a tree trunk, or when hibernating. In addition to camouflage and large eyes, the butterfly is able to make a hissing sound by rubbing its wings together that is audible to human ears. All in all, this butterfly must appear very threatening to any predator that might come across it.

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