Thursday, February 25, 2016

Continual Rearing

Below I attach a photo (taken yesterday) of what I believe to be the first, 4th consecutive (i.e. without diapause) generation (in a single season), L2 A.ilia larvae ever produced. In just over 6 weeks time I will have continually cultured these specimens for an entire year without diapause. It would therefore appear that if conditions are optimised it is now possible to continuously rear these species 12 months of the year.

Aside from these new L2 larvae I also currently have a another 20 specimens either in L5, pupae or recently eclosed adults (specimens supplied by Colin Wiskin) which did diapause, but due to the very mild winter conditions woke early and are now producing viable adults.

Much has certainly been learnt about these species in the process.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Surviving Winter

This winter is bloody awful.  It's very similar to that of 2013-14: mild, wet and windy, with gale after wretched gale, although until now (8th Feb) the gales have largely been to the north of the Purple Empire.  

To date, hibernating Purple Emperor larvae have survived reasonably well in the wild.  I haven't got many to follow this winter, but lost one in late November and a second in late January, both to assumed tit predation.  (The second one may have moved, and not been relocated - but it was on a terminal bud, which is a suicidal position as foraging tits search there first and foremost).  

Three larvae have moved after entering hibernation, two during mid-December and another in late January.  Several moved whilst hibernating during the mild winter of 2013-14.

Here's No. 13, Wittgenstein, on the upper side of a fairly thick branch -

Here's No. 14, Kierkegaard, with unusual dark green and yellow mottling - 

And here's No. 9, Heidegger, on an old stem scar -