Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Seasoned Greetings

Happy 2014 to all followers of the Purple Empire...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Greetings

To all my loyal subjects.

From His Imperial Majesty, The Emperor of the Woods, the Monarch of all the Butterflies, the High Spirit of the Midsummer Trees, the One of Whom the Nightingale Sings, etc...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wiltshire Doings

It turns out that there are some advantages to working in Swindon - namely the proximity of a wood full of Purple Emperor larvae I managed to grab an hour or so to check out some of the larvae that I've been keeping an eye on. No new finds, but good to see that the few I was searching for were still around, despite a lack of winter (it was quite balmy at times). The penultimate photo is of a larva that has survived the felling of an enormous sallow and that somehow managed to cling on as the tree toppled. As Matthew often tells me - "never underestimate a caterpillar"! The last photo, not brilliant by any means, does show how the horns on the head make for a very smooth outline when seen in silhouette and, being on the north side of this particular twig, must be very difficult to find from a bird's perspective. The wood itself has transformed now that all of the leaves have fallen, looking like a skeleton of its former glory.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Photographing Butterflies

I recently put this together for a friend who's just starting out photographing butterflies:

It occurred to me that it could form the basis of a useful resource for our followers - especially if others would contribute their own thoughts, theories and discussions. If you have a bit of time over the holiday period, perhaps you could think about contributing something to this blog - especially if you can illustrate it with examples of your own work. I can add you as a contributor, or post for you with attribution. 

Oh, and I think England have just dropped the Ashes.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Doings in Fermyn

This episode, from July 16th, needs commemorating -

And the reason? -

Well done Gill!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Doings in Hibernation

This larva was found dangling on a single strand of silk from its hibernation pad.  It looks healthy but I have never had one come detached from a hibernation pad before, either in the wild or in captivity.  I've taken it into captivity, primarily to work out whether it's dead or alive.  I suspect it's dead, but I've only had 2 larvae die in hibernation previously (as opposed to being predated). 

An unusually high percentage of wild larvae this year are hibernating in forks (<40 against="" aligned="" and="" been="" buds="" do="" don="" forks.="" have="" in="" know="" majority="" nbsp="" previous="" something="" t="" the="" they="" vast="" we="" winters="">

Monday, December 2, 2013

Exception to the Rule

As with every rule there is always an exception. Here I post a picture of a recently shed L3 larvae, uninterestingly named "Larvae G", which since early L2 has been reared on an artificial diet. I also have an additional larvae "Larvae H" (also L3), which was transferred onto the diet the day after it's prior ecdysis. Both larvae appear very healthy and are eating well. Growth of the larvae appears to be slightly slower than those reared via conventional methods, but as these initial results would suggest, all is fine. I will continue to rear both of these larvae on the diet and aim to produce the first EVER Apatura adults reared via this method. Previous efforts had successfully reared Sasakia charonda via a similar method (Kunitomo 2002), although my Apatura larvae did not appear to be interested in eating the media composed of the equivalent dietary components. Hopefully another first on route.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Blackadder Returns

Another delightful morning spent in the company of Matthew, monitoring Purple Emperor larvae in a Wiltshire Wood, before heading over to Winchester for the UK Butterflies winter social gathering. This time we returned to the area where I found my first ever iris larvae and ova a few months ago. We quickly relocated the few that we knew were there, but also decided to give one particular sallow a really thorough search. Now that the sallows are largely devoid of leaves, any leaves that were left warranted a closer inspection to see whether or not they were attached with silk to the branch, a sure sign that a larva isn't too far away. I managed to find such a leaf pretty quickly and soon found a hibernating larva on an adjacent stem. I then realised that this was the 3rd larva I'd ever found - Blackadder returns! Matthew then surpassed himself (again) by getting us well into double figures for larvae on this one sallow and taking his own tally to over 225 for the season - amazing!

Spot the larva

Blackadder returns

Leaf stalk attached by silk



Going walkabout

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Last Minute Rush

In the wild, iris larvae rushed belatedly into hibernation during the second half of last week.  On Tues Nov 19th only eight out of 25 larvae I checked were in hibernation.  By Sun 24th, 25 out of 28 larvae seen were in hibernation, one was crawling off to hibernate, another was spinning a hibernation pad and just a single larva was still on a leaf.  By yesterday, the 26th, it seems that all had gone into hibernation, though there were still a fair number of greenish leaves on many of the breeding trees.  2013 remained a 'late' year to the very end, it never caught up after the late spring.

Provisionally, it looks as though an unusual number have chosen to hibernate in forks this year, like these two (spot them!) -


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Slowly into Hibernation

iris larvae are going into hibernation in the wild distinctly late this year.  On Tuesday Nov 19th only eight out of 25 larvae checked were in hibernation, though four others were crawling around on stems looking for hibernation places, like this -  

One of the larvae still on leaves was only about 1/3rd coloured up.  Here it is -

In contrast, in 2009, when I had a similar sample size, all were in hibernation by Nov 15th, with the last one being seen on leaves on the 8th. 

The previous latest I've recorded wild larvae on leaves are singletons on 16/11/10 and 14/11/11, but those were atypical retards.  This year I may even find one or two on leaves in December.  Many of the breeding sallows still have green leaves.

The impact of the late spring is still evident.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gallic Greetings

Heather Mason sends this great shot of the Lesser Purple Emperor, form clytie, from SW France. Seems we only just miss out in the UK - apparently it's fairly widespread over the channel in Normandy.

Apatura ilia, form clytie
Personally, I've always been a bit puzzled by those species that exist in two quite different forms side by side - is it geographic, climate related, genetic propensity, or what? I'd be happy to read an explanation if anyone feels inclined to provide one.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kent/Surrey iris

A note received from Jim Yeeles

I live in Tatsfield on the Kent/Surrey border and thought you might be interested in a Purple Emperor sighting on 22nd July reported in our Parish Magazine.  I've attached a map with an arrow indicating the area where they have been seen before, apparently, but not for a few years.

I think I recall Mathew Oates tweeting about a larva found at Clacket a while ago.  I've never seen a PE but think I may need to pay more attention in future.

(Yes,  Matthew reported a larva at the back of the M25 Services - we also have iris reports from Sevenoaks in 2011 - Derek)

Double Take

A report sent to me from Stuart Hedley, footloose in the Balkans. I enjoyed it so much I've posted it in full - Derek


Sat 15th June
Round about lunchtime came to a delightful and memorable thing.  Stopped in a lay-by for some fruit and nuts and a swig when what should happen but a butterfly flew past, and in the sun for a split second a dazzling flash of purple.  A purple emperor!  Another one of those things one wants to see or hear or do, and lo!  Circumstances deliver it up unto you before you go looking for it.  I was thrilled.  Got out my Canon and vowed not to leave that lay-by until I had captured the magnificent beast on camera.   

After my first few attempts I began to realise that they were much more skittish than I thought.  Quite quickly I got a picture, but predictably it was a mere dot on the screen with closed  wings.  After a while I got one with open wings, but of course angled so that that stunning irridescence wasn't visible.  They would go down onto the hot tarmac, but no sooner had I got six feet from them than up they'd go again.  And they were powerful fliers - in seconds they could be twenty metres away.  They traversed back, though, along the line of the verge, and after I while I realised that I was in the middle of a territory.   
Nothing like a crappy lay-by to bring out the best in iris.

Stunned, it dawned on me that this crappy lay-by on the DN10 with its indolent, live-in rabid dogs was purple emperor heaven.  I was surrounded by tall, mature oaks through which the twisting trunk-road had sliced a series of sunny lay-by glades, and in these the typical Homo sapiens of Romania had dumped all the crap that Homo sapiens dumps in Britain: banana-skins, rotten fruit, litter, used nappies, and the shit of the feral dogs to boot.  All manner of revolting stuff with the strong south-european sun warming it all nicely and sending up irresistible plumes of molecules to the butterflies. 
Suddenly, I remembered from various friends that all I had to do for the perfect purple emperor photograph was to piss out a big puddle of wee in the middle of the sunlit tarmac and wait until they came in to take my 'mineral salts'.   

Sadly, I can't wee as forcefully as once I could, and I had had one about ten minutes previously.  After a bout of frantic rehydration I managed to squeeze out half a glassful.  I spat my cherry pips out too, hoping that spit and ripe fruit would reel them in.  

Attempt after attempt proved futile.  And my wee was not proving attractive, either.  There was, however, the small matter of attracting attention from other motorists stopping.  Why is that man pointing his camera at that puddle of wee? Once, there was such a long gap between a male disappearing and reappearing, that I very nearly gave up. Then three would come along at once and have a dogfight in a particularly brilliant sunbeam, clattering like amethysts in a lapidarist's barrel.  
As the day wore on, I realised that in fact, the most productive area was on the opposite verge, more fully in sun, and with some cart-ruts still holding water from the previous night's rain.  As I looked on several came down to these very puddles, jewel-like, but with the twisting fall of an autumn leaf.  I went over and homed in on one.  Up they went again!  A little mauve maelstrom later and down they came, one puddle being particularly irresistible in harbouring a child's white sock, ground into the mud.  
Two out of the three european Apaturinae That's got to be some quality wee!

It might have been the tenth or twentieth time when I finally found a butterfly so absorbed by its soup that I got my first decent picture with the camera on zoom.  With great stealth I moved in, being careful not to block the sun, and in the end I got there.  One of my greatest trophies of the ride.  It was only months later, in processing my Romanian memories, that I discovered that in one instance I had captured both the purple emperor Apatura iris and the lesser purple emperor Apatura ilia in the same frame, apparently quite a coup. 

The latin is, rather wonderfully, Apatura iris.  When you think of all those apertures that must have been so carefully selected, and the iris, well, it was just about the most brilliant colour I have ever seen in temperate nature.  Made the gentians of Widdybank look dull.
Spurred on by this lovely happening, and by the usual picturesque horses and carts that clattered by, I went on towards Berca, where I took a much better lodging.  Tired, hot, dried out and hungry , I had goulash shoup followed by a chicken burger and chips.  Later a chocoloate éclair too.

Stuart Hedley

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wont Go To Bed!

His Imperial Majesty is proving very loath to go into hibernation this autumn.  Today in Savernake I checked 34 of the larvae I'm monitoring: only six were definitely in hibernation, though five others which we not found had probably gone off into hibernation.  Two of the 23 found on leaves were still quite green.  I suspect they'll hurry into hibernation during the coming week, but in the previous four autumns most had gone down for the winter by Nov 10th.  It is, though, a late autumn for many trees, including sallows. 

Great to watch No 94 going into hibernation this afternoon.  He crawled 1.1m from his feeding station, found a scar in the underside of a ~12mm thick stem and then spent 6 mins spinning silk there. Then he turned round, span a bit more silk and then conked out.  Here he is at work -

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Hobbit 2: Desolation of Smaug

Those of us familiar with the book will know that half way through Chapter VIII Bilbo sees dark purple butterflies in the tree tops in Mirkwood - perhaps Iole no less, in abundance: 'he saw all around him a sea of dark green, ruffled here and there by the breeze; and there were everywhere hundreds of butterflies.  I expect they were a kind of Purple Emperor, a butterfly that loves the tops of oak-woods'.  These were 'a dark dark velvety black without any markings to be seen.'  Had Tolkein heard rumours of ab. Iole occurring in nearby Bernwood Forest?

Unfortunately, in the film these seem to have transmogrified into Morpho x Papilionid hybrids.  See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnaojlfdUbs 

Consequently, Gentlemen, we will have to boycott this film.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

BB's Butterflies - a Review

I've just posted a review of BB's Butterflies on the UK Butterflies website and thought that visitors here might like to know! Click here to read the review.

Colouring Up

A good morning spent in the company of Matthew searching out the many Purple Emperor larvae that have been found in a wood in Wiltshire. Matthew kindly showed me an area of less than 10 square metres that is the home to over 25 larvae - and we found a couple of new residents today too. The larvae are in various states of "colouring up" ranging from almost "Lincoln green" through to a very dark grey/green. Many larvae have moved away from their original position and are quite difficult to find as a result. Matthew found one larva moving around at the end of a twig - a totally unsuitable position for a larva looking to overwinter! Earlier I'd found one larva next to a sallow bud. Some shots below.

2013 season in Berks/Bucks/Oxon [BBO]

It was the best season since we've been keeping detailed records [2003], with 490 sightings from 35 tetrads, the previous best being 390 sightings in 2010. As last year, it was a late starter. Although a single specimen had been seen on July 1st, no more sightings were made until July 8th, when the numbers slowly picked up. The peak was between July 14th and the 23rd, when double figures were seen, daily, in several woods, including 30 on each of two days, July 17th and July 23rd, in one wood. To put this into perspective, the previous best day in this wood was in 2010, when 16 were seen. Remarkably, in one very small wood [0.125 sq km, 12.5 hectares, 30 acres], 19 and 15 were seen on two separate days during the peak period.
The last was seen on August 21st, the latest observation ever in BBO, making it a longer season than usual, at 6 weeks.
Matthew and Neil have observed iris far outside woods on several occasions, and that has been our experience too, although most of these were in gardens not far from woods. Noteworthy was a sighting on the ground [with photographic evidence] of a male in a tree nursery, about 5km distant from the nearest  wood where iris had been seen, in north Oxfordshire.
'Special' events: 1] For the first time in BBO, ab lugenda was seen. 2] On August 1st, 4 females were seen at sap in an Oak knothole in Rushbeds Wood, and this behaviour continued until August 6th. 3] In  the very small wood mentioned above, a member observed 6 males pursuing a female high up in the Oaks.
All in all, a season to remember.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Another Christmas Present

Prints available of oil painting featured on front cover of new book on BB's Butterflies.  £35See http://www.roseworldproductions.com/fine-arts/purple-emperor-apatura-iris 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

In Hibernation

Last Sunday all the wild iris larvae I checked were still in full Lincoln green.  Normally, a fair few have started to colour up by then (Oct 20th) and the odd one may even be in hibernation.

They've been colouring up fast this week, both in captivity and in the wild, so that today in the wild only 3 out of 28 seen were still in full Lincoln.  Most were about 20-50% coloured up, and the first hibernating larvae was found.  Here he is, in a fork of 1cm diameter twigs.

Interestingly, several were seen adding silk to their seat leaf stalk, to strengthen it to cope with the developing wind.  Unfortunately it was too windy to photograph that! 

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Some 40 years ago The Muse visited me and left me with the following:-

My eyes have seen the glory of the Purple Emperor,
He was flying round an oak tree that was very very tall,
He got pestered by a hairstreak that was very very small,
So he.................................................................................. .

Unfortunately, or perhaps mercifully, The Muse departed before I managed to finish the thing.  Do feel free to complete it...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Record Egg Lay!

Delighted to report that my annual standardised search for Purple Emperor larvae in & around Savernake Forest has produced a staggering total of 179, comfortably beating the previous record of 141 in 2009.  It is all the more amazing as I found just 24 in 2012. 

These figures are derived from 40 hours of searching on a representative selection of trees - i.e. not merely homing in on the best-looking trees in known hot spots.  The data include eggs (only I don't search for them much), live larvae, the distinctive seat pads & feeding leaves of failed larvae plus or minus associated egg case bases. 

Interestingly, the breeding grounds have shifted this year. 

Also, larvae of Buff Tip, Pebble Prominent and Dot Moth are all unusually numerous on sallow foliage this autumn, though the Sallow Flea Beetle is not having a particularly good year. 

Here's one larvae that didn't make it (though it still counts as one of the 179 finds).  This is only the second perished larva I've found during the five years -

And here's a happy caterpillar doing a poo... 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


The following piece of naff tack is for sale in National Trust shops, presumably Made in China.  It is deeply insulting to People of Purple Persuasion, and even more insulting to iris himself.  Feel free to complain to the Trust...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Christmas Present

All you ever wanted to know about 'BB' (Denys Watkins-Pitchford) and the Purple Emperor.  Chapter by our very own Doug Goddard of Northamptonshire, Foreward by me.  Very Purple indeed.  Essential reading, especially for anyone who has visited Fermyn Woods.  Limited edition.  Will become a rare book.  £45 incl p&p. 

Put details in front of your other third's nose now before you get bought socks & slippers.  see http://www.roseworldproductions.com/

Christmas Present Review!

Since Matthew mentioned Ken's new book, I thought I'd share my review, which can be found at: http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/reports_willmott.php. Highly recommended!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bath time

After a business meeting in Cirencester, I decided to pop into the Wiltshire Wood where I've been following the fortunes of several Purple Emperor larvae. I'm pleased to say that most of those I've been monitoring are still there, although most have moved a little way from where I first found them. The changing colours of the leaves is starting to make them slightly more visible and so, as described so well in Matthew's article in British Wildife (Vol. 23. No. 5, June 2012): "Adventures with caterpillars: the larval stage of the Purple Emperor butterfly", I'm really looking forward to seeing the larvae change colour also as they move into position on a branch to overwinter.
Bath time!
The leaves are starting to change colour

Big Bang Day in Fermyn

Oates's diary for 15/7/2013 -

Mon July 15th    St Swithin
Cloudless, still and very hot. 27C. Hazed over a bit after 6pm.
Lady & Souther Woods, Fermyn Woods. 8.10-3.15 & 3/50-7.10.
Stupendous day in which I saw a probable 127 individual Purple Emperor, including one ab lugenda male, a weak ab iolata briefly (male) and witnessed a pair in cop, from start to almost finish (she was one of only 3 females seen). Purple Emperor started here on Thurs, there was a good emergence yesterday but today was Big Bang Day, the main male emergence day, and the weather was perfect – possibly a bit over-perfect as they were still active when I gave up, expired, after 7pm. It was so hot that they had a modest siesta mid afternoon, from 3.00-5.00 when they became active again, with a fair few descending to the rides for afternoon tea. For the record, I met up with Doug Goddard & Andy Wyldes and John Woolmer.

Males were already up and about, high up on the trees, when I entered the woods just after 8am. I had 9 sightings of at least 7 individuals down the W Ride, 8.12-9.05. Initially they were all high on the oaks where they’d roosted, but they gradually started flying lower and lower. Some inspected pine trunks for sap.

Just after 9am they started descending to the rides in search of moisture and Lord knows what else – the W and E rides had been quite heavily baited by various folk, mainly with diluted shrimp paste, but plain water proved almost as good in this heat. Sadly, I didn’t manage to keep a tally of the number I saw down on the ride surface today, but it was at least 50. All were pristine. My first grounded male was at Poplar Corner at 9.10, then 4 down along the heavily baited N end of the E Ride ca 9.15, and several others shortly afterwards.

Chaos with a capital C descended at 10.10 when a group of us spotted a pristine ab lugenda male down on the E Ride N end, between Poplar Corner and the E Ride Summit. But he was wary and short off southwards. I followed and flushed up 4 grounded males before I lost him, then got distracted by 5 males down on diluted shrimp paste baits at Log Cabin T Junction. Later Doug Goddard got a reasonable photo of what may well have been the same male, down on the W Ride mid morning.

Between 10.15 & 10.30 I saw 15 males down or low between Log Cabin and Poplar Corner (ca 300m). I then counted 22 in 30 mins along the ½ mile W Ride, of which 20 were down on the ride. At 10.50 I saw a weak ab iolata male in flight along the E Ride, but lost it amongst a couple of type males. Around this time I twice saw a pristine male with very weak purple scales (all angles) down on the ride at E Ride Summit. Neil reckons these un-purple males purple up later in the day. I’ve bred this butterfly for nearly 40 years and have never known them change colour. This male was seen again in the same spot at 6.41.

From 11.30 males were on the ride surface in much lower numbers, and were actually outnumbered by butterfly photographers. By noon only the odd male was down. Most had gone sallow searching, and I saw a lot of that (from ~10.45). I searched some of the territory rides, seeing 5 males along High Seat 382 Ride, including 2 sallow searching. One was on the deer seat itself.

At 1.08 I spotted a male following a female 18” behind her high over the entrance to Lyveden Way Ride, but they flew off into tall maiden oaks and were lost. A classic courtship flight. I’m sure they paired there.

En route up to HS 381 Ride ca 1.15 I passed 2 males and 1 female down on the ride, and saw 2 more males sallow searching. HS 381 Ride then produced 9 males, including two pairs of battling males in the usual favoured territories. Shortly after I found a couple of males in the Scots Pine Territory by E Ride Summit. This territory is only used in very hot and still weather.

I then went to see what was going on over the Lady Wood Head poplar stand. There seemed to be 4 males active on territory (I saw 4 in flight at once, but only clashes of two at a time). Then, at 2.38 a female flew along the poplar line and was immediately accosted by first one then two males, whilst two other males decided to clash and chase nearby. She immediately led the two to the end of a Scots pine spray some 10m up, above the ride opposite the middle of the poplar line, in 70% shade, and instantly joined with one male – whilst the other tried to muscle in. The pair in cop settled wings closed, motionless apart from being disturbed by the 2nd male, who eventually calmed down and settled wings closed nearby. He skulked off at 2.56. Previous pairings I have watched have lasted for ca 3 hrs 45 mins, so I left them to it just after 3, intending to return at 5pm.

I decided to return to the cottages, for afternoon tea and a shower, as activity was quietening right down. En route I saw 3 more males down on the W Ride, including a massive one which probably equated to Heslop’s ab maximus – only I’ll never know for the criteria for determining it as maximus is whether it fits on a 3½” setting board or not.

I returned at 5pm. The pair in cop was still in cop, motionless in the same spot, wings closed, at 5.12 but sometime between then and 5.23, when I next checked, they had separated. So the pairing lasted a mere 2 hrs 33-45 mins – and hour short of the norm. Maybe they got disturbed?

Males started to descend to the ride again at 5.15, but just before 6pm it started to haze over, so they took to the trees again. I saw 3 chasing over the Poplar Corner Oaks at 6.25, whilst looking for Purple Hairstreaks there.

At 6.41 the pristine unpurple male I’d seen twice during the morning around E Ride Summit descended again, looking unchanged. Fermyn is the only place I've seen this odd colourless form.

It hazed over properly around 7pm, when I saw my last iris of the day – at Neil Corner, where I’d seen my first. Shortly afterwards I gave up and went back to the cottages for a meal with Japanese artist friend Tomoko Take.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Christmas Present Ideas

BB's Butterflies  Selection of BB's writings on butterflies, focussing strongly on the Purple Emperor.  Foreward by Matthew Oates, chapter by Doug Goddard.  Due out end of October.  Limited edition.  £40 + £5 p&p.  Roseworld Productions.  See http://www.roseworldproductions.com/   (details to go live soon).

The Butterflies of Surrey Revisited   Completely new book on Surrey's butterflies.  Lead author: our very own Ken Willmott.  Purple Emperor on front cover.  Being launched at AES Exhibition on Oct 12th.  £16 + p&p.  See http://www.surreybutterflies.org/ 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Larval Progress

I am nearing the end of my annual survey of iris ova & larvae in and around Savernake, for the fifth consecutive year.  The 'egg lay' is very good, perhaps as good as that of 2009 when 141 eggs & larvae were found.  However, the breeding areas have changed -  new breeding grounds have developed and some favoured hot spots have become neglected. 

Larvae are now entering, or have recently entered, their 3rd instar (L3), in which they hibernate.  Here's a larva changing from L2 to L3.  Unusually, it's changing on its original (1st instar - L1) seat pad.  Note diagnostic feeding -

And here's another which has just changed from L2 to L3.  Note the cast skin behind the larva's tail and cast head piece -

Meanwhile, someone else is putting in a serious challenge for Butterfly of the year 2013 -

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Notes and Views

Just spotted a copy of Notes and Views if anyone is interested - Mark
SeeNotes and Views


Not quite such a happy tale as Pete's:
On Monday I went for a stroll in a local(ish) wood where I had found a dozen or so ova and young larvae earlier in the year. Unfortunately, FC staff had carried out their annual 'habitat mismanagement' works, and the ride-side sallows upon which the ova/larvae were observed have now been flailed.
"It's all about public access sir" although quite what the 'public' need with a 25 foot ride wide (with no vehicular access) is beyond my slow pate.
I don't suppose that the impact upon the population will be anything more than utterly insignificant, but sometimes one does have to wonder.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Back in Wilts

After a wonderful holiday in Thailand, I popped into a Wiltshire Wood on my way home from Bristol today to see how the Purple Emperor larvae are doing. I'm pleased to say that some are now in their 3rd instar and looking very healthy. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do a thorough search and Egbert and Baldrick have gone walkabout. Blackadder was on his usual spray, though, and I also managed to relocate 4 other larvae. Some shots below.

2nd instar larva - just!
3rd instar larva with old skin caught in a hole in the leaf!
3rd instar larva

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A photographic scrapbook of Bookham Common's Hill Farm territory (2013)

Hi all, shame that the weather had to eventually turn!

Anyway, I've put together a series of pics illustrating aspects of Purple Emperor behaviour in and around the canopy of Bookham Common's Hill Farm territory. Hope that it brings back a few recent memories of this past season... Cheers, Rob Hill

I'll start with male Emperors fighting/chasing - pairs at first...

Then groups of three...

Then groups of four... (did see a few fives but moving too quickly to get camera up in time - maybe next year)

Then to finish with a few shots of emperors interacting with other insects...
                                          Purple Hairstreak

                                          Red Admiral chasing

                                        And finally - a repeat of the dragonfly that turned from the chased to the chaser!