Today I was surprised to see a peacock butterfly (Aglais io) on the wing on a sunny March afternoon. However this is not unusual as some species of butterfly hibernate as adults, in sheds or hollow trees. Other species survive the winter as eggs, caterpillars or chrysalis.
Peacock butterflies lay their eggs on stinging nettle tips, where the black spiky caterpillars can feed. The caterpillars pupate under vegetation and emerge as adult butterflies after 12 days. The butterflies feed on nectar, so we are opening up the clearings in the wood to increase woodland edge for a wider variety of flowers.