Gentlemen, Lady. The 2014 Purple Emperor Season is almost upon us. We are on Amber Alert.
Given the weather outlook, I would expect the first males to appear at 'early' sites (in Oxon, Surrey, Sussex & East Hampshire) in a few days time, perhaps between the 18th and 20th. The butterfly should start elsewhere next weekend, perhaps a little later in Fermyn Woods, Northants.
Look for Purple Emperors when the White Admiral is well out and female Silver-washed Fritillaries are appearing, and Look Up, for this -
There may be a fairly lengthy emergence period this year. The evidence is flimsy, of course, but in captivity here on the Glos / Wilts border four out of 19 are still pupating - after the first pupated on 1st June. I think there's a similar disparity in the wild in / around Savernake Forest.
I have already stuck my neck out and suggested that adults numbers will not be high, as predation levels on hibernating larvae were horrifically high and predation continued unabated long into the spring. However, much depends on the weather during the flight season, and there's no such thing as a bad Purple Emperor season.
This is what we're after -