A pale colored butterfly lands on a small white flower, closes its wings, unfurls its coiled tube and pushes it into the blossom. It alights, flies close to the ground, finds another flower and repeats the process. Its quest for nectar is relentless. Nectar is its sustenance.
When it opens its wings, light brown smudges on an off-white canvas and a double row of orange crescents that border the scalloped wing edges appear. Whether its wings are opened wide or folded closed, three sets of eyespots are clearly visible, one pair on the forewings and two pair on the hindwings. It’s a facade that makes the butterfly appear bigger than it really is. It confuses would-be predators.
Its light off-white color adorned with these eyespots is why it was named the white peacock butterfly. It lives here in the southeastern U.S. and ranges as far south as Argentina.
White peacocks continue the quest for nectar over the fields and woodlands in our community where autumn wildflowers still bloom. I see one butterfly with a tattered wing. Undoubtedly a hungry predator attempted to eat it, perhaps by poking its “eyes” out. Yet the strong instinct to survive and its evolutionary design enable the species to endure.