A live Peacock butterfly was found flying in a container from the UK following the arrival of the RMS voyage 198. It was spotted by a member of the public and removed by a customs officer, before being handed over to the Biosecurity Team.

Peacock butterflies are common in the UK during summer. The caterpillars feed on nettles and hop plants, before crawling off to find a secure, dry place for turn into a chrysalis. They will spend up to 4 weeks as a chrysalis before hatching into the adult butterfly, which is large, red in colour and so-called due to the big blue eye-spots on the wings which look like the spots on a peacocks tail.

The butterfly found on the wharf would have hatched before arrival from a chrysalis which is thought to have been carried into the container attached to items being imported, or the caterpillar could even have crawled into the container itself.  It will be put down, pinned and added to our reference collection.

The Peacock butterfly isn’t known to be a crop pest, and this is the first recording for St Helena. If you see any others, please call Rosie Peters or Jill Key at ANRD on 24724.


16 October 2013

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