Monday, April 26, 2021

Useful aid to finding pupae: UV Fluorescence

I have previously documented that Apatura larvae unfortunately do not fluoresce under UV. Whilst recently digging through some older literature: THE BOOK OF BUTTERFLIES, SPHINGES, AND MOTHS; (VOL. I), THOMAS BROWN (1834), I came across a statement under a section on the "Purple Highflier" which described the Apatura pupa as having a "very delicate texture, much resembling the white pupa, and is tinged in several parts with a very lively purple hue, which is transmitted from the wings of the enclosed insect". With this statement in mind I turned my attention of UV light to the pupae and discovered to my surprise that although the larvae do not fluoresce under UV, their pupae certainly do and shine like luminous beacons in the night. This is without a doubt due to the white waxy coating that the pupae possess and could prove to be a very handy tip for finding specimens out in the field.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

First Baiting Reports & Attraction to Dung/Carcasses?

Dear All. Considering the extensive amount of Apatura knowledge here, I was hoping to please try and tap into this in regards to a simple question/query. I am please looking for the earliest recorded literature on his majesty's attraction to dung and/or carcasses. My own hunting has so far identified a letter posted by William Sturgess in Vol.2 of the Entomologists' Weekly Intelligencer (12th May 1857), where he reports their attraction to Stoat and Weasel carcasses. By 3rd August William had used the same technique to note the attraction and capture of 80 specimens. In the 1830's capture of the Purple High-flier could only be obtained using long poles, but by the 1890's baiting using carcasses was common practice. Does anyone perhaps please have any recorded literature that pre-dates this post by William Sturgess (12th May 1857)? Many thanks for any kind help in advance. Mark

Friday, April 16, 2021

Aberation from 2019

hi, I posted an aberration from 2019 on this blog. I think someone told me it was ab. afflicta but I'm not sure. Is there someone who really knows their (purple) onions confirm please?

My original post is here.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Winter Ending...

  Purple Emperor larvae are now all out of hibernation and are lined up alongside swelling buds, ready and waiting to start feeding

  One of two have had their first bites out of loosening buds, but as a whole they are stuck in what I call the Departures Lounge, waiting for the sallow leaflets to expand sufficiently. 

  This is a frustrating time of year for them, not helped by cold nights. They wont make much, if any, progress this week, due to the forecast Arctic winds and cold nights. The sallows are progressing very slowly, and are taking an age to flower this year (leaves follow flowers...).   

 It is still too early to give a winter survival rate, we have to wait till they start feeding properly. However, I'm sure we can say that the survival rate is significantly higher than during the 2019-20 winter (unless mass predation occurs this week). 

  In West Sussex, Ben Greenaway seems to be set to record around 40% survival, compared to a mere 15% the previous winter. 

  In the N Wilts district, I seem to be set to record 50%, possibly 60% survival - but will have to wait until late April before I can locate a couple high up on sallows (spotted through binoculars, but now masked by sallow flowers). This is about as good as it gets.

  At this stage, we can say that 1) larvae are currently somewhat behind schedule but that 2) their spring numbers are relatively and pleasingly high, so 3) we could be set for a good emergence, probably from late June.  

Watch this space...

Here's some recent (early April) photos of larvae - 

Fans of my named larvae (see my Twitter account @MatthewOates76) will be pleased to learn that Boris, Donald, Andrea (Ledsom), Jacob and Margaret Hilda are all alive and well - indeed, Margaret has started to feed. But Ivanka, Nigel and Sir Nick got crunched. 

  PS Hau Loc shrimp paste is back on sale in the UK, post Brexit (the EU banned it as unfit for human consumption). This is by far the best brand of shrimp paste for iris. See This is why we voted Leave...