Purple Emperor larvae are now all out of hibernation. Most are stuck in Departures lounge - waiting for the sallows to stop flowering and come into leaf, so they can feed. Like this one, taken today in Savernake -
In Savernake, two out of nine have started to feed, one by 'jumping the gun' and biting into a loosening bud -
However, one wild one has desiccated - withered up and died - and one of my captive ones too. I'm not sure what causes this: inadequate autumn diet and excessive late winter / early spring warmth are the two strongest candidates. One of the big butterfly breeders, who raises hundreds of Emperors, thinks it's due to strong drying winds. Two desiccated larvae (and two healthy ones) were found at Knepp last week.
Looks like the weather's turning cold again, so larvae could get seriously stuck in Departures - I've known them to perish there...