Thursday, 2 February 2012

Peacock butterfly

YESTERDAY I had a surprising and rather wonderful wildlife work!

At the foot of a stone stairwell, sitting quietly in the corner, was a perfect peacock butterfly.  

Peacocks overwinter as adults in cool places where there is shelter, such as garden sheds and outhouses.  This one had chosen County Hall.  However it was very vulnerable where it was so I took it out the way to a safer place.

As I carried it to its new home it flashed its wings at me.  As this species has great big eye spots, this might be quite effective as a predator deterrent, but what really surprised me was that as it opened and closed its wings it made a very audible rasping noise.  This was not a vocalisation, but was made by the physical act of the wings moving, apparently the fore and hind wings rubbing together to make the noise.  It had quite a startling effect, which is surprising for such a small beast.  This was not just my imagination - as Jeremy Thomas confirms this in his excellent book.

As the insect was so perfect I wonder whether it emerged late in this species normal cycle.

This one below was taken last summer, as (unsurprisingly) I did not have my DSLR with me at work...


  1. Rather more colourful than anything I've ever encountered in Council offices. Nice find.

  2. Cracking find Peter! Especially for this time of year. I wonder how it's arrived so early!

  3. Peacocks overwinter as adults in the UK in hollow trees or sheds, garages and outhouses. They can sometimes be found in houses, or offices in this case. They do not migrate.


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