Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Orange Alert!

The glorious 2020 Purple Emperor season is not far off at all...  Numbers could be extremely high...

We are now on Orange Alert, with Red Alert set to kick in from June 2nd.  

Most years we get some odd very early claims (there was one on facebook last week). These are probably a mix of misidentifications, bred & released specimens (which are usually undersized and early to emerge) and glorious fantasies. They are entirely the fault of the Purple Emperor, who specialises in generating chaos. As it sayeth in the Good Book: beware of false prophets, many will come in my name...

Watch this space...  

PS:  A male reported from the Edenbridge area, Kent, on - wait for it - May 26th! Make what you will of this record... It will be interesting to see when the next record comes in. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

KIck Off Predictions...

I am predicting that the first Purple Emperor of the 2020 season will be seen on June 7th, but I may bring it forward (to the 3rd). 

Neil Hulme is going for June 10th.  

One of us is invariably right.

Whatever, the second half of June is going to be the best time to look for the Emperor this year, lockdowns permitting. Don't leave it til mid-July, you'll be too late.   

My book His Imperial Majesty, a natural history of the Purple Emperor is being printed now and will be out on June 11th. The cheapest pre-publication offer is from NHBS. 

Read the introduction Adrift on the Wind and Chapter 7 How to look for Purple Emperors before you go out Emperoring. The rest can wait.  

Enjoy your Emperors, they're going to be utterly manic this year...  

Anyone dedicated to studying the Emperor is welcome to join the People of Purple Persuasion WhatsApp group. You need to have downloaded Whatsapp on to your mobile and then need to text me your number. Mine is 07771 971488. NB we are Extreme, as is the butterfly...  Also, this is not really a photographers app group. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Early Season?

Folks. Wild Purple Emperor larvae are unusually well advanced, with early- to mid-final instar larvae present in West Sussex, West Berks and S Glos. White Admiral and White-letter Hairstreak larvae are similarly advanced (I haven't got a reading for Silver-washed Fritillary). 

This means that, as things stand, the Purple Emperor is likely to be on the wing in early June, possibly earlier. 

However, we've been here before, notably in 2011 when there was a fine early spring. That was followed by a cool May, which slowed things down, and then a wet June. The first Purple Emperor was seen that year on June 13th.  

Long range weather forecasting is extremely hard in the UK, but the indications are for a drier than average May, with a warm ending. The middle third of the month, though, is likely to be cool (but dry), which could slow larval development right down.  [Info from The Weather Outlook which I find fairly reliable].

Watch this space, but my original prediction for the first Purple Emperor of 2020 was June 11th - but I may well need to bring that forward.  

Regarding numbers: much depends on May and June weather, especially the weather when larvae are pupating, and during the pupal period, and of course flight season weather. Winter predation was 'Moderate', as measured. At this range, numbers could well be 
quite good or even good. 

Finally, I am delighted to announce the discovery of Apatura iris in the Cirencester area, probably as a recent colonist. There is a fair chance of the odd aggressive male beating the living daylights out of the Large Blues on Daneway Banks...