Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Prospects for 2012

Gentlemen, Lady.

Since my last post on this subject, His Imperial Majesty has largely (but not exclusively) emerged from hibernation, and larvae on some early-leafing trees have commenced feeding - only to stop again due to the onset of foul & abusive weather which appeared, predictably, the moment the entire Purple Empire was included in official Drought Zones.

I was very much under the belief that 2012 would only see a poor adult emergence, as a knock-on from a very poor egg lay last year. However, a fascinating German book (Gabriel Hermann, Searching for Butterflies in Winter. 2000. Books on Demand, GMBH, Nordestedt - in German with a rather poor computer-generated English translation) offers significant hope, stating (I paraphrase the translation):-

'Amazingly, according to the author's observations, ... it appears that flight seasons following winters with very low larval populations regularly see good emergences' (end of my paraphrase). He continues: 'A possible reason for this could be that tits quickly learn to find young caterpillars in winters with very high caterpillar density and thus cause very high losses.' He terms this 'tit learning effect'.

Now, losses of wild hibernating larvae during the previous two winters (to assumed tit predation) were ca 63%. This last winter, with a much smaller sample - as larvae were very scarce - only 25% were lost. So hopefully Herr Hermann's theory will redeem the 2012 season... .

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Which Pastes Exactly???

Advanced apologies to the seasoned bloggers, as this message is primarily directed towards Matthew and Neil!

The first batch of GC-MS (Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry) data from my iris and ilia samples has recently just returned some potentially interesting results which adequately support the SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) data that I have previously obtained. In order to try and better understand the obtained results however, I wonder if I could please enquire about the 7 types of Shrimp pastes which were used in the July 2009 bait tests at Fermyn Woods? It is obvious from Matthews’ Christmas post last year (Christmas Day, somewhere in the Purple Empire) which paste gave the best results, however, in order to ascertain any specifics about the "Pantainorasingh" paste, I would first need to know which other pastes were used in the tests?

From initial reading, such as Cha etal (1995):

and Lung-Shih etal (2003):

Both papers (amongst many, many others) giving some rather interesting data, but without the paste specifics used in the initial baiting tests, it is very difficult to properly interpret the results. I consequently very much look forward to reading your paste specifics here online.



Friday, April 6, 2012

Iris Takes to the Air(waves)

His Imperial Majesty made his first TV appearance of the year on BBC1's One Show, on Thurs April 5th. In addition to a brilliantly cryptic hibernating larva ('Hamlet'), filmed recently in the nether regions of Savernake Cathedral, viewers were treated to some great out-takes from Butterflies a Very British Obsession (TX BBC1 Dec 2010). These clips included a male iris feeding on the ground (Fermyn Woods, 2009), a male landing on the Goose Green Inclosure, Alice Holt, 'master tree' - the Summit Sweet Chestnut (also filmed in 2009) and a timelapse sequence of snow melting over a larva (my garden, Jan 2010).

The piece also showed Paphia having a great time at Bookham Common and in Straits Inclosure, Alice Holt, and various other friends and relations, including a clip showing the great cardui invasion of 2009.

But the truth is that His Imperial Majesty needs and merits his own BBC TV channel, and his own BBC radio station (which should also host Test Match Special). This requirement will be included within the Purple Party's next election manifesto.

Post Scriptum: His Grace the Duke of Burgundy put in a timely appearance today on Rodborough Common, in the Gloucestershire Cotswold hills. This we believe to be the earliest record of His Grace on the wing in Great Britain (though there is a vague Hampshire record for late March in 1893, only the grammar in the relevant sentence is so poor that the record may refer to another species).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hamlet on TV

Gentlemen, Lady

BBC1's One Show tomorrow evening - Thurs April 5th - will feature a piece on how butterflies survive winter, the highlight of which will be a cameo appearance by a particularly cryptic hibernating iris larva in Savernake called Hamlet - who was still firmly in hibernation yesterday, though he has greened up nicely.

This butterfly merits its own TV series.