Where to look
The peacock is distributed throughout the UK apart from the far north of Scotland. It is one of the more commonly seen species; it often visits gardens but is found in a wide variety of habitats. It also hibernates as an adult, often in garages and sheds.
When to look
Adults tend to emerge from hibernation during April but can be seen basking on sunny days throughout the winter. Adults are on the wing until early May. The eggs females lay hatch quickly and caterpillars develop rapidly throughout June, feeding on nettles primarily but also hops and small nettle. Caterpillars pupate and adults emerge again in late July. Adults are seen on the wing throughout late summer until they enter hibernation. Males are territorial and perch in a sun spot waiting for females and chasing off rivals.
What to look for
Males and females are very similar in appearance, both being large and brightly coloured with large eyespots to deter predators. The undersides of its wings are almost black which provide camouflage when they are hibernating.
What the data will tell us
Information about where the species have been seen will tell us whether the distribution of these species changes over time. This is why giving an accurate location of your sighting is important.
Information about the date these butterflies were seen will also tell us whether the timing of events is changing in response to climate change. There is evidence that the emergence times of all of these species are getting earlier as temperatures increase.
Illustration (c) Chris Shields