Friday, 25 April 2014

The Peacock Listener

Whilst pottering around yesterday, I was thrilled to see the annual return of an old friend to the garden.

The Peacock Butterfly (Inachis Io), is a familiar sight in gardens up and down the British Isles. Fluttering from bloom to bloom, my peacock acquaintance circled me several times to inquire as to Why I was removing a delicious dandelion from the borders? Why I was mowing the lawn in that direction? and Why I was unpacking stored Dahlia tubers from a wooden crate? Jeepers creepers, they really are the most inquisitive of creatures.

Although renowned for feasting on nettles, dandelions and thistles, my fervent weeding leaves the butterflies no option but to find alternative nectar within the garden. Erysimum seems to be their current plat du jour where they can be found throughout the morning, face-down, slurping and gorging themselves on its sugary nectar.

Males set up territories around midday, often on the sunniest side of the garden, leaning against a tree where they nonchalantly chew gum whilst waiting for a passing female. If they encounter a male, the territorial resident will see him off briskly. When a female is found, he will then go through an extended courtship chase before she allows him to mate. He must demonstrate high-performance, top gun flight capabilities if he is to have any chance of cancelling his membership to

The infamous eye spots are one of the Peacock butterfly's primary defense mechanisms, which they flash to warn off hungry blue tits or other avian predators. It is also able to produce a rather effective and defensive hissing noise by rubbing its wings together, that is apparently audible to the human ear. I haven't witnessed this behaviour to date, no doubt I'll be found leaning into the borders over the coming weeks, with a cupped hand behind my ear.

One can only assume that after such a hectic day that the Peacock butterfly hits the sack early to prepare for another tomorrow full of adventures. So bear a thought for my diaphanous winged friends this Springtime and take the time to say hello, it ain't that easy being a butterfly.


  1. What a stunner - wow!!! Please send a few to my garden. I have plenty of dandelion flowers blooming now :)

  2. Only you Mr Paul can write so lyrically and elegantly about a Butterfly. This Peacock Butterfly looks so beautiful. I adore their colours. I never knew that Butterflies can join As per your writing, there seems to be a higher probability among butterflies to find a perfect match mate than humans on Happy Gardening! Happy Weekend!

  3. Paul, You are not only a wonderful photographer, but writer as well. Loved this description of your butterfly buddies and their antics.. Are you running a singles bar there for these guys? Seriously though, such a gorgeous butterfly! I have never heard of them so perhaps only in British Isles?
    Happy weekend Paul! xx Kim

  4. Paul this is a new guy to me - dressed in sartorial splendor no less. I have butterflies already checking my blooms too - I was dive bombed by a very large (3" wingspan) Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucos) when watering a couple of days ago. He/she loved the wet concrete pathway, kept laying down in the damp spots, seemed to be just sunbathing in the shallows rather than drinking! I just repurposed an old broken bird bath in to a butterfly bath - it's very shallow which of course they love. Off into the sunny garden this morning to plant more annuals for color and butterfly food!

    Loved your description of the peacock - he certainly leads a busy life and I know your garden benefits from his beauty.

    Have a fabulous weekend Paul.
    Hugs - Mary

  5. FABULOUS description of this lovely creature.............YOU will be happy to know I have spied ONE BUTTERFLY so far this SPRING in my garden and he did a happy dance about me.I stopped and took notice!Admired and told him to come back with friends!

  6. Dear Paul,
    I liked your portrait of the Peacock Butterfly so much! In our garden it feasts on the buddleia. And if it is the first butterfly you see in Spring it predicts a colourful summer (a plain cabbage white butterfly by contrast....)
    Well - fact of Life: High performance for - high performance, Imagination, effort and power is what we all expect (you get what you want - that's why I didn't write "want" :-)
    You made me remember the "stomping butterfly" of Kipling again. There you'll find a way - better: the butterfly and Solomon found a way - to get the grip on their women.

  7. Dear Paul
    I am giggling out loud upon reading your line about the Peacock Butterfly cancelling his membership to Your imagination is priceless.

    I have yet to meet such a butterfly and how beautiful the markings.

    Have a delightful weekend

    Helen xx

  8. Gosh, what a beautiful photo!
    Are there fewer butterflies around, or as we get older do we just stop noticing them?
    Must pay more attention.
    Hope you have a lovely week,
    Liz x

  9. Ha, ha Paul...You have me laughing out loud....You must have a had a special time in the garden watching those butterflies. I promise to say hello to his Dutch friends! We call them blue eyes in Holland :-)

    Happy week!

    Madelief x

  10. Oh my- what a gorgeous butterfly! I've never seen one like this-- how lucky you were to be able to take this picture!! It's hard to imagine that this beautiful creature is real-- it looks like a painting:)


  11. What a wonderful, bug eyed sight!
    Handsome little chap.

  12. Peacocks are so attractive, and they are amongst the longest lived in the butterfly world - apparently 11 months as opposed the usual 2 weeks.