Saturday, June 20, 2009

Matthew's Prospects for the Season

Gentlemen, Ladies:

The Sukebind is coming into bloom! Camilla [1] and Paphia are upon us, and as you may know, His Imperial Majesty, the Monarch of all the Butterflies, the High Spirit of the Midsummer Trees, takes to the air when Camilla males are well out. In mathematical terms the equation is Camilla + Paphia + Quercus = Iris. The Empress, though, usually appears in synchrony with the humble Gatekeeper, Tithonus[2].

So, in the southern woods, it will be worth scanning the trees from 25th June onwards, though the first Iris males may not appear until the 28th, perhaps even the 30th. Further north the insect may not start until 1st or 2nd July. Much, though, depends on the weather over the next ten days or so - and a big anticyclone is about to come over from the Azores, which could well speed up these emergence estimates. The start of The Season is always difficult to predict. The commencement of The Season will be announced in the usual manner on this website… .

It is unlikely that iris will be particularly plentiful this year, for two reasons. First, although the butterfly emerged in good numbers in 2008, it got decimated (in sensu hodie) by an autumnal gale on 5th / 6th July and therefore did not lay a great many eggs. Secondly, pupation may have been hindered by cold and intermittently wet weather between 6th to 10th June this year (though hopefully many had pupated before that period).

However, much depends on the weather from now on. As with White Admiral, there is a strong correlation between short pupal periods, caused by hot June weather, and a high emergence.

Above all, enjoy the forthcoming Season, and report all notable doings to this website…

[1] Some members may wish to refer to this butterfly by its old name, Sibylla.

[2] Tithonus won prat of the year in 3000BC. He was a handsome youth beloved by Eos, the goddess of dawn, who persuaded Zeus to grant him everlasting life – only they forgot to ask for everlasting youth, the result being that the poor boy withered away and was last seen hopping around as a grasshopper…

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