Eye-spots may be a form of mimicry: the spot looks like the eye of a larger animal. Its function may be to draw a predator's attention away from the most vulnerable body parts; or to look like an unpleasant or dangerous animal.
There is evidence that eyespots in butterflies are anti-predator defences. Some are deimatic displays to distract, startle or scare off predators, or at least to deflect attacks away from vital body parts. Butterfly eyespots may also play a role in mate recognition and sexual selection, like the eyespots on larger organisms.
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- Stevens, Martin & Ruxton, Graeme D. 2014. Do animal eyespots really mimic eyes? Current Zoology 60, 1, p26. 
- Blest A.D. 1957. The function of eyespot patterns in the Lepidoptera. Behavour 11, 209–255.
- Vallin A.; et al. (2005). "Prey survival by predator intimidation: an experimental study of peacock butterfly defence against blue tits". Proceedings Royal Society: Biological Sciences. 272 (1569): 1203–1207. doi:10.1098/rspb.2004.3034. PMC 1564111. PMID 16024383.
- Costanzo K. & Monteiro A. (2006). "The use of chemical and visual cues in female choice in the butterfly Bicyclus anynana". Proceedings Royal Society: Biological Sciences. 274 (1611): 845–851. doi:10.1098/rspb.2006.3729. PMC 2093980. PMID 17251116.
- "Female butterflies chase males when it's cool". Sify.