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.