Delighted to report that my annual standardised search for Purple Emperor larvae in & around Savernake Forest has produced a staggering total of 179, comfortably beating the previous record of 141 in 2009. It is all the more amazing as I found just 24 in 2012.
These figures are derived from 40 hours of searching on a representative selection of trees - i.e. not merely homing in on the best-looking trees in known hot spots. The data include eggs (only I don't search for them much), live larvae, the distinctive seat pads & feeding leaves of failed larvae plus or minus associated egg case bases.
Interestingly, the breeding grounds have shifted this year.
Also, larvae of Buff Tip, Pebble Prominent and Dot Moth are all unusually numerous on sallow foliage this autumn, though the Sallow Flea Beetle is not having a particularly good year.
Here's one larvae that didn't make it (though it still counts as one of the 179 finds). This is only the second perished larva I've found during the five years -
And here's a happy caterpillar doing a poo...