Sunday, May 27, 2018

Does anyone know what's happened to It contained a lot of useful information, but now seems inaccessible. Thx!

Predictions for The 2018 Purple Emperor Season

We are set for an early and extremely good iris season.

The first males should start to emerge on June 16th at 'early' sites such as Bookham Common in Surrey, Great Chattenden Wood in Kent and Knepp Wildland in West Sussex, and a day or so later at moderately early sites such as Alice Holt Forest, Hants, and the Bicester woods in Oxon. The Wilts colonies are at least a week behind, and may only see modest numbers.

I may revise these predictions if the weather speeds things up or slows things down.

Unless the weather during June and early July is poor we are set for an unusually large emergence, as mortality was moderate during the autumn and unusually low during the winter (though the butterfly can suffer high losses in the pupal stage, and can get caught in the pupal stage if June is cool and wet).  

So, do the decent thing: resign from your job (Hulme and Oates have already done this), walk out on your partner, sell the children into slavery or worse, and cast yourselves into the full wonder of the 2018 Purple Emperor season. There is no alternative.

We are Purple, and proud of it...

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Getting Ahead...

Folks, I found a near-full grown iris larva in W Sussex yesterday. 

In this weather it will be pupating within a week.  Also, my captive and N Wilts larvae have recently gone into into, or are skin changing into, the final instar now.  

And the weather forecast is for another warm and dry week.

At this rate the butterfly will start to appear around June 18th, but I'll issue my final prediction for the start of the 2018 Purple Emperor season at the end of the month. Numbers could be pretty good...

Get ready to kill the fatted calf - we're going to use it as bait...

Monday, May 7, 2018

Ahead and behind

Two of the cats I'm following, Faith and Willow (who I got the wrong way round in my last post), have now entered fifth grade. Faith shed her skin two or three days ago and Willow followed up today.

This was Willow yesterday:

And today:

She has outgrown her seat leaf:

The next two pictures show Faith, today:

Allowing 17-18 days for the 5th instar and two or three for pupation, both these caterpillars should pupate in May.

At the other extreme, I found a freshly moulted 3rd grader, Xander, the other day. He must have spent the winter as a second grader - something that happens relatively frequently here:

He is feeding up fast and will probably shed his skin again before very long, to enter 4th grade:

Most of my other cats are currently in 4th grade.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Spring in CH

After a disastrous autumn and winter, when all the caterpillars I was following towards hibernation died, I have managed to find just four new caterpillars so far this spring. Two are high in trees and their instar is difficult to determine. Two are lower down and are causing me some confusion.

This is Faith. She is a big, fat 4th grader, a little over an inch long:

This is Willow. She is also a little over an inch long, but has been laid up for ecdysis for a couple of days:

Before she adopted the prayer posture I had assumed she was 4th instar. Given the date, she must be 3rd instar, preparing for 4th - but I can't recall seeing such a large 3rd grader.

I'll be keeping a close eye on her.


Zero Tolerance!

The Committee of the People of Purple Persuasion recently met at Knepp Castle. We've no idea who was in the Chair: we'd never seen him before and he slumbered drunkenly throughout. Also present were Sir Charles Burrell, Mr Hulme, Mr Oates, a blonde young lady and two 3rd instar Purple Emperor larvae.

As usual, the issue of the Reserve B (Offshore) Account was discussed at length. No further progress can be reported on this long-running saga. The account, which may never have existed and may or may not have any money in it, has seemingly disappeared into the ether.

The other item discussed was Male Behaviour, a much more serious matter. It was unanimously agreed that to date Purple Emperor males have been far too modest and restrained in their behaviour, and at times almost effete. 

The caterpillars present proposed a strongly worded resolution that from henceforth the males should adopt a policy of Zero Tolerance, towards anything. The motion was carried. We can look forward to an exuberance of appallingly bad behaviour this season, and thereafter.

The insect is, incidentally, currently changing from the 3rd to 4th instar, having been held up by the recent poor weather. It should catch up and make considerable progress during the spell of fine weather that is forecast to start over the weekend.

At this stage, the butterfly is likely to start to emerge at the end of June, but much depends on the weather during May and June.  Watch this space...  I should be able to predict a start date by the beginning of June.

Meanwhile, I'm off to the Costa Brava to do battle with Charaxes jasius, a big pansy of a butterfly that wouldn't last thirty seconds in the midsummer oak canopy anywhere in the Purple Empire. I'm also visiting a stunning valley in the Catalan Pyrenees where iris is, apparently, abundant, and feeds regularly from Woolly Thistle flowers.