Wednesday, January 13, 2010


An Extraordinary General Meeting of Extreme Butterflying took place on Sunday January 10th 2010 in a Wiltshire wood, with 5” of lying snow, a maximum temperature of 0C, frequent snow flurries, and depressingly bad light.

Mr Hulme was in the chair. Mr Oates was 3m up in a sallow tree. Attendees wore ladies’ tights.

The minutes of the previous meeting were smoked. There were no matters arising.

The sole agenda item was to find and photograph hibernating larvae of Apatura iris, especially those capable of producing specimens of ab. iole.

Doings had to be restricted to the part of the wood adjacent to the main road, the side roads and lanes being utterly impassable. An attempt to drive to the prime iris area was thwarted by glacial conditions, the car spun into something nasty that had escaped from Antarctica and Mr Oates was forced to dig his vehicle out of a snow drift, obtaining some fine pupae of Smerinthus ocellata in the process.

Twelve iris larvae were observed, one of which was new to science. This was accidentally found by Mr Oates, whilst teasing down a branch already known to hold a larva. He had nearly squashed it. Had he done so, his life would have been forfeit.

Mr Hulme obtained some fine photographs, primarily of the uncommon grey colour form adopted by larvae hibernating on scars or lesions in bark, or in forks.

Only two specimens were photographed of the commonest colour form, the yellow-green form that predominates when larvae position themselves by sallow buds, the most frequent location chosen for hibernation. The rare brown colour form was not observed, due to the intervening presence of a large ice sheet.

At this point, darkness descended, torches were lit, and the police arrived, alerted by phone calls concerning men behaving oddly in a public place. The meeting then adjourned to the local constabulary. Mr Hulme is helping Wiltshire police with their inquiries. Mr Oates is missing: his last words were, ‘I’m just going out, I might be some time.’

Another Extraordinary General Meeting will be called.

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