Monday, 28 July 2014

Do butterfly wing patterns really mimic predator eyes?

23 July 2014 Last updated at 05:32

By Ella Davies
Science writer

A bumper crop of spikey black caterpillars have appeared on the nation's nettles this summer.

Clad in velvet coats peppered with white dots, the creatures have been sunning themselves and munching through the weeds in remarkable numbers prompting a flurry of enquiries and reports to the charity Butterfly Conservation.

They might not be so familiar in this form but the insects will grow up to be arguably Britain's most colourful and recognisable butterfly - the peacock.

As they prepare for their annual Big Butterfly Count, experts at the charity are predicting a bonanza of the butterflies.

Last year, the species surged to third position in the survey which asks the public to record how many butterflies they see in 15 minutes of sunny weather.

Following on from this success, peacocks emerged in good numbers after their winter hibernation according to Butterfly Conservation's Surveys Manager Richard Fox. The warm, dry weather since the spring has provided ideal conditions for breeding, egg-laying and the development of caterpillars.

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