This week the Peacock butterfly has been flying in the garden, feasting on our early flowers, like Primrose and Dandelion. Only a few Butterfly species traditionally overwinter as adults in this country- the Peacock, Brimstone and Comma being the most common, which is why these are the species we see flying early if the temperatures are above 10C. However, with climate change there are more species surviving over winter as adults, including Red Admiral, Clouded Yellow and Small Tortoiseshell. If you see any Butterflies in these early months you can record them in
Peacock feeding on Dandelion
Primrose and Peacock
Nature’s Calendar. This valuable citizen science site is helping to record changes in the emergence of buds on trees, insects, migrant birds etc, which all helps monitor climate change. If you find a Butterfly in your house or shed take it outside, carefully, on a mild day so they can find natural food, and an outdoor site to shelter if the weather gets cold. Conditions: Mild dry spell. Temperature: Max 13 Min 5C.
Three Peacock Butterflies were regularly in the garden yesterday and it was possible to watch their territorial behaviour. One male (from its behaviour) patrolled an area near a patch of nettles (where the eggs are eventually laid), regularly settling on the ground at several spots, thus claiming a territory. When another male flew into the area, the resident male immediately flew round its territory before the two males flew rapidly upward in a spiral flight, each trying to get higher than the other. Usually the resident wins this spiral ‘combat’ and that happened with this male, when it returned to its established perches on the ground before being set off on its rival spiral flights again and again. Even a bird flying through could set it off patrolling for a while. More on the Peacock tomorrow! Several species of butterfly do this spiral ‘dance’. Conditions: Sunny, mild and still though not as hot as yesterday. Temperature: Max 15- Min 7c.
This male Peacock displayed on several ground-perches near some nettles in the garden
It didn’t feed during this period, but opened and closed its wings, making itself very visible round it’s chosen territory
Wen the rival male entered the territory they flew in a rapid upward spiral together
They rapidly climbed in a tight spiral together, the one reaching highest winning the territory. They did this many times over a couple of hours