Monday, April 27, 2015

This very obliging female dropped down by my feet last July and spent 45 minutes imbibing in the damp earth. This was the first time in many years I have managed to photograph a female on the ground. I hope this earns me a badge!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Challenge badges

After reviewing some of the stunning images of female iris in 2014, I have decided to include images from last season too.

Therefore, if you put an image on the blog last year you qualify. To claim your badge, please send me an email: with your details and a link to your post.

As you can see from the photo, a rather novel reenactment of males chasing a female can be done on your lapel / hat / rucksack.

The next stage

This is Bhīma, one of 11 wild cats I am now following. He is in the classic, prayerful posture, indicating that he is going to shed his 3rd instar skin any day now and emerge into 4th instar.

This is a time of rapid growth. Having lived most of 3rd instar as ascetics, hardly eating at all in the autumn then fasting the whole winter, the newly wakened caterpillars are now guzzling the fresh foliage with relish, moving from leaf to leaf as they eat them up. Bhīma is nearly 9 months old and still small. In just a month and a half he will be fully grown and preparing to pupate.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

News from the Alps

Almost all the sallow here in Switzerland (c. 1000m) is in leaf, with just a shady bush or two still in bud. The iris larvae have all woken up and most are feeding.

This is Agni, my most advanced cat. He looks as though he will be ready to shed his 3rd instar skin soon:

At the other end of the spectrum, Sugrīva has yet to begin feeding:

Sarasvatī had to move some distance to find foliage and has yet to green up:

Durgā and Śiva share a sapling right next to the path. This is Durgā, with Minnie, my Jack Russell, just discernible further along the track:

And this is Śiva. I thought I had lost him, because countless winter searches of every accessible twig on his sapling proved fruitless - I only found Durgā. But then yesterday, suddenly, there he was again!

Spring has sprung.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Greening Up Nicely!

Purple Emperor larvae have progressed considerably since waking up on Easter Monday, both in the wild and in captivity.  

Most are now fully greened up.  Some have even started feeding - by jumping the gun and biting into swelling leaf buds.  This is remarkable considering that they were still deep in hibernation on Easter Day.

Here are two from the wild on Tues 14th -

Note that both the buds in shot have been nibbled, and that this larva has grown visibly.  

An artistic shot, of a larvae waiting for leaf buds to unfurl.  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sleepers Awake!

Purple Emperor larvae woke up from hibernation today, and moved to take up positions next to swelling leaf buds.  They'll have to wait a while, as the sallows are rather behind as spring has been running a trifle late.  Also, the sallows come into leaf after they've finished flowering. 

The good news is that it appears that predation rates during the winter were very low (but as determined from a small sample of larvae).

Monday, March 16, 2015

Oriental Emperors (Sasakia charonda)

Adding a touch of (appropriate) diversity to the blog. I have recently received a shipment of Sasakia charonda larvae direct from a new collaborating researcher in Japan. I thought some of you might like to see these wonderful larvae.

I hope to rear these larvae to maturity and test if some of my more recent findings are equally applicable to other iridescent members of the Apaturinae. If people are interested, I can always post further images as the larvae develop.