Sunday, October 26, 2014

Going into Hibernation

Three of the 9 larvae I'm following have gone off their leaves to hibernate.  One may have been predated, as I searched hard but I couldn't find him - but I'll check again when the leaves are off.  Quite a few vanish without trace whilst crawling off to hibernate - I suspect that most are picked off by birds.  Hibernating larvae are hard to find until all the leaves are off.

Most of those that are still on their leaves have coloured up nicely, but some have only just begun to change, including Percy, above.

Monday, October 20, 2014

And so to bed ...

6 of my 9 cats have left their leaves in the last couple of days and presumably settled down somewhere. So far, I have relocated two, Durgā and Trijaṭā:

It will become easier to look for the rest as the leaves fall.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Purple Empire Exclusive

The Purple Empire Caterpillar pin badge bearing Matthew Oates's thought provoking motto goes on general sale on Tuesday the 21st of October. By then, all those who helped fund its production will have received their badges.

Only 10 remain of the reduced edition size of 40 pin badges. The price is £6.00 each and £1.20 p&p. For more information on how to purchase one please email me:

For international orders please contact me for a shipping quote.

Monday, October 13, 2014

More colouring up

To follow Matthew's observations on colouring up, I can report that the larvae I am following here in Switzerland are a little ahead. Of nine iris cats on my daily dog-walk, 8 are coloured up and just one still green. Here are three in winter livery and the remaining summer cat, all photographed today:






Sunday, October 12, 2014

Colouring Up

Larvae are just beginning to colour up in the wild - one out of 8 seen today had started to change colour, the others were still in Lincoln green.  This is slightly behind the norm, but the weather has been mild.

There's a lot of rust, mildew, spots and assorted poxes on tree leaves this autumn, presumably because of the warm, moist summer.  On sallows, there's a lot of blackening on leaf tips and edges, which is displacing larvae off their favoured tips.  

Here's one of today's larvae -

Seemingly, throughout the Empire many sallows have blackened off badly, shedding leaves prematurely.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A question ;
Why are some larvae now feeding voraciously while others are already immobile, dark in colour & located in odd places such as leaf - veins near the leaf base ?
Are the non - feeders doomed or are they going into hibernation at a sensibly early date ?
Puzzled of Dorset.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Autumn colours

Here in Switzerland autumn is falling early and some of my iris cats are beginning to turn too. I'm still seeing the same 9 on my daily dog-walk - here are four of them, in different shades of green, today:






Sunday, October 5, 2014

Final Savernake Tally

The tally for my annual standardised count of iris larvae in / around Savernake Forest is a measly 20, the lowest total in six years of diligent recording. Last year it was over 200!  

Worryingly, I've found a lot of failed breeding sites, where 1st or 2nd instar larvae had been feeding.  Most of these have been checked twice, just in case of oversight.  It looks as though the incidence of 1st and / or 2nd instar fatality has been unusually high this year.  This may be because of the cold, wet August, though I suspect it may be due to the leaves being too thick and coarse following an early and rapid spring. 

Here's a trio of leaves bearing seat pads and feeding marks of lost young larvae (+ egg case bases) -

Note the leaf tip damage.

I rarely find any on narrow-leaved sallows in / around Savernake.  Here's an exception - and a rare example of a larva not on a leaf tip -