Monday, December 6, 2021

Autumn & Early Winter News

Apologies for the lack of posts but I've acquired a new laptop and cannot (yet) post to the Empire on it...  This post is via the old, wobbly laptop...

The good news is that larvae are quite numerous this autumn / early winter, despite a low adult emergence and much poor flight season weather. This may be because sallow foliage was in good condition for the egg-laying females in July and for L1 larvae in August, due to the late spring and late leafing (it's complex, scientifically difficult, and covered in my book).

Larvae entered hibernation (or strictly, diapause) late, due to the mild November. The mild first three weeks of November also meant that many larvae wandered far and wide before entering diapause - so, they're hard to locate. This mildness also meant that larvae were still wandering around on the last day of November and first day of December - these are new record dates for active larvae.

At present, I am following at least 14 larvae in / around Savernake Forest. These are named after philosophers in Monty Python's Australian Philosophers Song.  I have also got another bunch on philosophers, non-Pythonesque and mainly Existentialist, near Lambourn and, joy of joys, Boris and his Cabinet in hibernation in my local wood (a new, radical and utterly wonderful colonisation). I've got a couple more elsewhere locally too. So, a good sample size to follow.

Better, Ben Greenaway is following an even larger number in West Sussex. 

So, we'll get a good measurement of winter survival and predation rates. Tit populations are down, due to a poor breeding season in the cold and wet spring, and when tits are down Emperors go up. Yay!

At this stage, the prospects for the 2022 season are genuinely good, but we don't need a mild, wet winter and an early spring (both of which lead to high larval mortality) and we really don't need the wet weather associated with Royal Jubilees next June (it's The Queen's Platinum Jubilee...).

Here's this winter's 'Priti', of the unusual olive-yellow colour form -

 And here's 'Jacques Derrida' -

The bad news is that the Dangle Leaf Season kicked off late, due to the mild autumn, and ended at most sites very early, due to Storm Arwen. Here's one of the few dangles I managed to find before Arwen blew them all away - 

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