The European Peacock (Inachis io), more commonly known simply as the Peacock butterfly, is a colourful butterfly, found in Europe and temperate Asia as far east as Japan. Classified as the only member of the genus Inachis (the name is derived from Greek mythology, meaning Io, the daughter of Inachus). It should not be confused or classified with the "American peacocks" in the genus Anartia; these are not close relatives of the Eurasian species. The Peacock butterfly is resident in much of its range, often wintering in buildings or trees. It therefore often appears quite early in spring. The Peacock butterfly has figured in research where the role of eye-spots as anti-predator mechanism has been investigated.
In the British Isles, the butterfly is found in England, Scotland (including Orkney and Shetland), Wales, and Ireland. The Peacock is expanding its range. The butterfly is not known to be threatened.
The butterfly has a wingspan of 50 to 55 mm. The base-colour of the wings is a rusty red, and at each wingtip it bears a distinctive, black, blue and yellow eye-spot. The underside is a cryptically coloured dark-brown or black. There are two subspecies, I. io caucasica (Jachontov, 1912) found in Azerbaijan and I. io geisha (Stichel, 1908) found in Japan and the Russian Far East.
Natural history 
The Peacock can be found in woods, fields, meadows, pastures, parks, and gardens, and from lowlands up to 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) elevation. It is a relatively common butterfly seen in many European parks and gardens. The Peacock male exhibits territorial behaviour, in many cases territories being selected en route of the females to oviposition sites.
The butterfly hibernates over winter before laying its eggs in early spring, in batches of up to 400 at a time. The eggs are ribbed and olive-green in colour and laid on the upper parts, and, the undersides of leaves of nettle plants and hops. The caterpillars, which are shiny black with six rows of barbed spikes and a series of white dots on each segment, and which have a shiny black head, hatch after about a week. The chrysalis may be either grey, brown, or green in colour and may have a blackish tinge. The caterpillars grow up to 42 mm in length.
The adult butterflies drink nectar from a wide variety of flowering plants, including buddleia, willows, dandelions, wild marjoram, danewort, hemp agrimony, and clover; they also utilize tree sap and rotten fruit.
Io is a figure in Greek mythology. She was a priestess of Hera in Argos.
Feeding on nettles
See also 
- Stevens, Martin (2005). "The role of eyespots as anti-predator mechanisms, principally demonstrated in the Lepidoptera". Biological Reviews 80 (4): 573–588. doi:10.1017/S1464793105006810. PMID 16221330. Retrieved 11 November 2010. (Abstract)
- "Peacock". A-Z of Butterflies. Butterfly Conservation. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
- Eeles, Peter. "Peacock - Inachis io". UK Butterflies. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- Price, Peter W. (1997). Insect ecology (3rd (illustrated) ed.). John Wiley. p. 405. ISBN 9780471161844. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- Stokoe, W.J. (1966). The Observers Book of Butterflies. The Observer's Books (Fully illustrated ed.). London: Frederick Warne & Co. p. 191.
Further reading 
- Baker, R. R. (1972). "Territorial Behaviour of the Nymphalid Butterflies, Aglais urticae (L.) and Inachis io (L.)". Journal of Animal Ecology 41 (2): 453–469.
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