Saturday, April 28, 2018

Throwing Black - remembering Iole

July 3rd, 2017 in Cotgrave Woods, Notts will always be most memorable for me, as I saw my first ab. Iole (lugenda). At the time, I did not realise how extraordinarily rarely these aberrations occur. I knew immediately it was an extreme aberration and, in case he flew, I took the record shot, below. I remember being struck by his darkness; almost jet black.

 The first males in Cotgrave emerged on June 24th so my sighting was on the 10th day, consistent with the observation that Iole and semi-Iole aberrations usually emerge late. He took salts for 3 hours allowing me to take lots of photos and I'll share a few more below.

Looking at museum specimens of Iole, this chap was fairly extreme with only two white spots and third faint spot on the forewing and a few bluish white hairs on the hind wings, in place of the normal white band. Heslop states that he saw only 2 or 3 Iole (lugenda) in his career so I feel very lucky to have seen one.  Fingers crossed for this season and hopefully catch up with a few of you at Knepp, Fermyn or maybe even Cotgrave :-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Feeding Nicely...

Emperor larvae have made a lot of progress during the fine weather of this last week. They're fully greened-up and have been feeding well to approach the next skin change, into the 4th instar. 

However, the wretched jet stream has how jumped south - as it usually does at this time of year. That will slow them right down...  They are still, though, on time.  

Here's how they're looking right now:- 


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Out of Hibernation & Starting to Feed

Emperor larva are coming out of hibernation. Some are starting to feed. They are not particularly late and are actually  a week ahead of where they were in 2013, when March was even colder, and feeding didn't start until 23rd April. In 2015 feeding commenced on 15th April, in 2010 and 2012 it commenced on the 18th.

Here's one from Savernake yesterday, the 14th, who has already started to feed (note damage to outer leaf of swelling leaf bud):

And here's Sav No 13, who I'm desperately trying not to call Stumpy. He lost most of one of his horns in mysterious circumstances late last September, but carried on regardless. It will be interesting to see how he looks once he changes to the 4th instar, around May Day. He too has jumped the gun and has fed from a swelling bud:

The really good news is that this winter's predation rate was only 25%, albeit from a small sample. This is the lowest predation rate in hibernation I've recorded in nine year's of following larvae in the wild. It suggests that this could be a very good Emperor season, weather permitting.

So, do what I've just done and ditch your job (I've retired, early - had enough...) and cast yourself into the Purple Sea... There is no alternative...

Monday, April 2, 2018

Spring Blues

Will we get a spring this year?  What will summer be like?  Hopefully as good as last June.  I have yet to see a butterfly of any description so far this year in north east Norfolk.  To lift my spirits I've been looking through my images from last summer, my first encounter with Iris.  If you too are feeling down here's a couple of piccies to cheer you up.  Brian.
Slurping the Fermyn salt
HIM holdind court