Peacock butterfly

Inachis io

family - Nymphalidae

Image of Peacock butterfly

The Peacock butterfly's wings are reddish-brown on top with distinctive "false eye" markings. The underside is dark brown to black.

My personal observations of Peacock:

months seen in my garden: March to May, end of July to August

garden plants that attract this species:
Aubrieta, Buddleia, Ceanothus, Chives, Forget-me-not, Heliotrope, Marigold, Muscari, Sedum, Skimmia, Verbena

Butterfly sightings 2005:

Peacock butterfly on Ceanothus, 15 May
First sighting of summer Peacock butterfly, 28 July
Several Peacock butterflies mainly on Buddleia, daily 1-5 August
Seen in garden, 15 August
Seen on Thistle in Cirencester Park, 20 August
Seen on Water Mint at Matara garden, 4 September

Butterfly sightings 2004:

The Peacock butterfly hibernates over the Winter and emerges in the Spring to search for a mate:

Peacock on Muscari, 30 March
Peacock on Muscari, 31 March
Peacock on Forget-me-not, 9 April

The new butterflies appear in the Summer. I missed the summer of 2004 as I was admitted to hospital on 15 July for 4 months.

Top 7 memorable images of 2003:

I have 82 digital images from 2003. Peacock butterflies mostly visit Buddleia bushes and are not particularly interested in other flowers. Can you have too many pictures of Peacock butterflies on Buddleia? Yes. I've restricted myself to just 7 photos and 2 do not involve Buddleias!

thumbnail link Classic view of Peacock on Buddleia 'Black Knight'. August 2.

thumbnail link 2 Peacock butterflies on Buddleia Nanho Blue. July 30.

thumbnail link 2 Peacock butterflies on unnamed Buddleia. August 2.

thumbnail link On Sedum spectabile! September 4.

thumbnail link On Water Mint beside the river Thames at Waterhay. August 3.

thumbnail link On Buddleia. August 8.

thumbnail link Side view. On Buddleia. August 8.

A selection of images from previous years:

18 August 2002, damaged Peacock on Verbena
21 April 2002 on Bluebell
August 2000 on Marigold
August 2000 on Verbena
4 August 1999 on Buddleia in my previous garden
4 August 1999 resting on Hop
28 July 1999 on Buddleia


There's one generation per year. The larval food plant is the Nettle, which is the same larval plant as the Small Tortoiseshell butterfly. However, the Peacock butterflies are a few weeks ahead of the Small Tortoiseshell butterflies thus avoiding competition. This is noticeable in the garden (about August) as the highest numbers of Peacock butterflies appear before the highest numbers of Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.

Reference Section

Size: 63mm (similar size to Large White - see list of butterflies by size)

First Generation flight period: July-May (over-winters as butterfly)

Larval Food Plants: Nettles
Wild Nectar Plants: Bluebell, Field Scabious, Water Mint, Thistle

Family Group: Nymphalidae - see list of butterflies by family

This page last updated: 9 December, 2005