Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Delighted to find an iris egg case base in Marlpost Wood, West Sussex, on Sat Nov 5th. The same leaf also held a 1st & 2nd instar seat pad, with the silk still fully visible, and distinctive feeding marks either side of the leaf tip. Sadly, no sign of the larva.

Egg case bases can persist into the autumn - if your eyesight is up to spotting them - but I don't think I've found one later than late Sept before. This may then be some sort of record, of which I'm proud - so nemesis will duly follow. The drama took place in the very spot where I saw (and caught) my first Duke of Burgundy Fritillary, in 1968.

Earlier that day, two out of nine wild larvae in / around Savernake were in hibernation, with a third thinking about it (i.e. it was watched spinning a silk pad on a twig, before returning to its seat pad). All bar two were fully coloured up. As in previous autumns, these larvae are on a mix of 'early', 'middle' and 'late' trees in terms of timing of leaf fall.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, two out of seven larvae are in hibernation and the remainder fully coloured up. They are somewhat ahead of their wild cousins - or rather, their wild cousins are behind their wild fathers and grandfathers.

My long-haired cat, Flea, seems to have grown a relatively short and thin winter coat this autumn, perhaps suggesting a mild winter....

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