July 7, 2007

inachis io

Today the peacock butterflies (inachis io) came out of their chrysalises – seven in all.  It was a strange sight to watch: like seven escape artists one by one swinging in their cocoons trying to break them open.  Then, with the wings unfolded, the butterflies spent a good hour getting used to their new bodies before flying away, moving a leg here, an antennae there, testing the proboscis and finally opening and flapping their wings before beginning their new life.

Although generally silent creatures they do use sound as a protection against predators.  In this case, it is in the form of an ultrasonic series of clicks (of between 30 and 60 kHz) created by the rubbing together of their wings as they are flicked open to reveal the large ‘eyes’ on their brightly coloured open wings.  Enough to give a scare and hopefully some time to escape.

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