Friday, August 18, 2023

Final sighting

The last Purple Emperor of 2023 was a female seen in Ruislip Woods on August 3rd. This means that there were only three sightings in August: this one, and my two sightings in Savernake Forest on August 1st. 

Perhaps the key point about the 2023 Purple Emperor season is that it arrived earlier than anyone anticipated and caught us with our trousers down... By the time many observers had realised that the butterfly was in fact well out, the weather was deteriorating. The St Swithun's Day gale effectively ended the season at many sites.

Numbers were excellent, if not superb, in central southern England - even in places where sallows were severely affected by drought in July and August 2022, and shed many leaves. This suggests that the Emperor may be becoming drought proof, like the White Admiral.

Elsewhere, numbers were at best modest - but many recorders got out rather too late in the flight season, and the butterfly may have been under-recorded.

Here's the pupal case of a female, who hatched out circa June 30th, in Cirencester Park Woods, Glos, taken on August 14th. The cases can persist for weeks, or months. 

The long journey into the 2024 Purple Emperor season has started. I'm beginning to look for larvae. Watch this space...

1 comment:

Matthew Oates said...

Correction: A male was seen on 17th August at Great Holland Pits, near Clacton on Sea in Essex. This is fairly close to the coast, and a 'late' site. Probably a late developing larva on a sallow which over-flowered in response to the '22 heatwaves, and came into leaf late, in a cool, shady spot, and developed slowly due to on-shore winds. Per Laurence Drummond.