Purple Emperor larvae are about halfway through their five month hibernation. Most hibernate by buds or in forks.
A few hibernate in scars or on lichenised branches -
They are quite heavily predated during this period, and this winter seems to be no exception. Great Tit seems to be the main culprit. Certainly, when tit numbers are high, Emperor larvae get clobbered. Heaviest losses occur during the late winter period. So we are just entering the main danger time...
Tit numbers are currently very high (even RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch data suggests this...), despite poor weather during the breeding season last year. Blue and Great Tits are everywhere in the woods, though as yet they are not roaming around in sizeable flocks.
Larval losses seem to be following the normal pattern - I lost two in a week in Savernake at the end of January, to assumed bird predation. All that remains is the vacated silk pad, like this -
In addition, I seem to have lost two to invertebrate predation - some sucking bug, that pierces the larval skin and sucks out the contents. Like this -
This seems to be a phenomenon of modern mild winters...
Whatever, some larvae will survive and thrive, and we will have a Purple Emperor season during 2024.
This is my 60th year of butterflying, the Purple Emperor entered my life back in June 1964... So it's party time...
Also, and more importantly, Notes and Views of the Purple Emperor was published sixty years ago, in 1964. Here's a photo of the lead author, IRP Heslop, with his 37' 'high net', and his van.