Butterflies: Aglais io
Today I present you this wonderful butterfly: the European peacock, or peacock butterfly (Aglais io).
Its specific epithet refers to Io, the priestess of Juno with the legendary beauty and, in fact, what is striking about this butterfly is undoubtedly the splendid colouring of the wings.
But, as often happens in Nature, beauty is never an end in itself. In fact, both the brick red colouring with golden reflections and the four showy, colourful eye-shaped spots (ocellus) are the primary defence mechanisms against the predators: the colour because it suggests an unpleasant taste, the eyespots because they remind the eyes of the predators of its predators, generally small passerines. However, it has been studied that chickens also react to these defence mechanisms.
The lower part of the wings, on the other hand, is of a blackish-brown colour and, when closed perpendicularly, makes the butterfly resemble a leaf, thus facilitating its camouflaging.
I tell the truth, I would have preferred to be able to photograph them on some beautiful flower, but actually, they did not give me a chance: I was walking on a dirt road, and the butterflies kept on taking off and then lying on the ground a few meters ahead; when I was approaching, they still moved a few meters and so on almost all the way.
The reason is simple: it had just rained, and the butterflies were warming their wings in the sun, a behaviour called “basking”, in practice using them as solar panels that accumulate heat and, once reached a specific temperature, allow the butterfly to resume flight in search of food.