The Peacock Butterfly is most probably the longest-lived butterfly in England. It can live up to eleven months although it spends five to six months in hibernation. Hibernation is the period when the Peacock Butterfly has a long sleep over winter.
Peacock Butterflies start to go into hibernation around the beginning of September to avoid the cold winter months. They hibernate in large groups in hollow trees, crevices in walls and in unheated buildings like sheds, barns and lofts.
The dark underside of the Peacock Butterfly’s wings helps Peacock Butterflies to be well-camouflaged in dark hibernation sites. However, if Peacock Butterflies are disturbed during their long sleep, they rub the top part of their wings together to make a hissing sound. This is to tell invaders to go away!
Peacock Butterflies come out of hibernation around April when it begins to get warm. They are very hungry after their long sleep so they use the nectar from bluebells as their main food source. Bluebells have long thin glossy leaves and violet-blue flowers that are bell-shaped.
The Peacock Butterfly also likes to take nectar from Buddleia which is also known as the ‘Butterfly Bush’. Buddleia is a shrub that grows up to five metres high and has highly-scented, tubular-shaped flowers. The flowers are lavender or purple in colour. This shrub is visited more in autumn because the Peacock Butterfly needs to build up its fat reserves ready for hibernation. In late summer Peacock Butterflies like to feed on over-ripe fruit that has fallen on the ground.