Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Y-Tube Olfactometer

Construction of the previously mentioned butterfly Y-Tube Olfactometer is thankfully now complete.

As you will see, I've even got the pastes ready in preparation for positive control testing. All we now need are the specimens. I will be digging out some Aglais urticae from local sheds and garages for testing of the equipment over the winter months, but apart from this, roll on the 2015 A.iris/A.ilia flight season. Where are all the male images just when you need them? I really can't wait to start playing around with this, hopefully we'll get some excellent data. More on this as the results unfold.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bookham Territory Videos

Essential Viewing: Three video pieces of male activity at the Hill Farm territory at Bookham Common, Surrey, filmed this season by Philip Wright.  Certificate X (Over 18 only) -




May contain scenes of gratuitous violence...


Thank You Philip! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Compound "X" (SPME-Headspace Analysis of The 'Medicine Mix')

Following on from an earlier post back in August of 2012, much work in this area has continued 'behind the scenes'. The conclusion from this investigative work lead me to believe that a specific (predicted) volatile was expected to be present in Matthew and Neil's magic 'Medicine Mix'. Please see their post on the subject matter, dated 21st August 2014. Today GC-MS SPME-headspace (Solid-Phase MicroExtraction) analysis was performed on a sample of their mix (although prepared by myself, according to their video instructions) and to my surprise I discovered that the predicted volatile was not only present, but also turned out to be the major volatile component (at least within the specific temperature range tested).

The volatile of interest is a major constituent of decomposing carcasses, is emitted from dog (and other predominantly but not exclusively carnivore) faeces, is a considerable component of the volatiles emitted from Limburger cheese [see Friedrich, 1977] and under certain conditions is also often present in human sweat secretions. The compound in question has been identified in the bouquet of fly pollinated plants and as such has been demonstrated to be a major attractant to these other insect species. If this wasn't enough however the volatile in question is also known to be present in the honeydew secreted by Quercus (Oak) aphids. I am currently in the process of constructing a laboratory grade, butterfly sized, Y-tube olfactometer in order to specifically test this and other volatile compounds on A.iris and A.ilia specimens. Assuming that the results obtained from these latter experiments are encouraging, you can expect to find me at Fermyn Woods next season (2015) with a ton of this compound in order to test if it works as an attractant literally out 'in the field'.

What then is this mysterious compound "X"? Sorry, but this you will need to wait until after further confirmation has been obtained in order to find out! More on this is obviously to follow...


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Silked on!

The last Emperor of the year - a pupal case left over from this flight season. 

The leaf is superbly silked on -

It will be interesting to see how long the attachment lasts...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Late Into Hibernation

Larvae are going into hibernation rather late this autumn, as happened last year when most larvae stayed on leaves until the third week of November. 

Both in the wild and in captivity half the larvae are still on leaves.  Here's one in hibernation in Savernake today, 1m from where it had been feeding (this one may move again...) -

And here's another from today, who is still on a green leaf (on a late leaf-fall tree) and is only about half coloured-up -

The latest I've recorded a larva still on a leaf in the wild is Nov 24th...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Ultimate Badge

No money in the world can purchase this badge.  The entire stock is in my possession, as I commissioned it from Paul Fosterjohn, Master Designer of Butterfly Badges

The badges will be awarded to people who have seen acute aberrations of Apatura iris - when the criteria and, more importantly, rules for display and code of conduct have been determined by the Fellowship Committee. 

Certainly, weak specimens of ab. semi-iole / iolata are excluded, some proof of encounter may be necessary, and wearers will be obliged to wear them on the anniversary of their encounter with this the Ultimate Butterfly. But there will be other specifications and stipulations...

Watch this space...

PS  For Valour refers to the Emperor's valour, not ours...