Cycle of the Peacock
Ovipositing begins in May when olive-green oblong eggs are deposited
in large clusters of 300-400 eggs and
in layers, under the young leaves of Common Nettle Urtica dioica.
The larvae hatch within 7-21 days and like
the Small Tortoiseshell they spin a tent on the top of the plant
by drawing a few leaves together with silk
where they live, moult and feed together. When these leaves
consumed they move on to fresh leaves to build another retreat.
The mature larvae are velvety black with finely
speckled white dots and many black spines. After about one month,
when fully grown, they disperse to pupate.
feeding on nettles - before and after
The pupa is suspended, vertically downwards, by the cremaster from a
silken pad spun on the vegetation up to a metre
from the ground. The pupal stage c.2-4 weeks.
Adults emerge from mid-July onwards and are in reproductive
diapause. They seek out the nectar of
plants, especially Buddleia and Thistle in order
to build up body reserves for hibernating. They usually enter
hibernation by mid-September.
the adult takes place in tree trunks, dark buildings and occasionally in
houses from about mid-
September to the following spring when they resume flight on
the first warm sunny day.
They are seen on the wing from c.late February to early
March onwards, when mating and ovipositing takes place.