Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Doings at Knepp 28th June

I saw two males sallow searching during an hour in mid-morning (then had to leave to do some work, which was a trifle inconvenient).

Neil arrived in mid-afternoon and managed to see five males in 20 minutes before the sun was lost for the day.  Then a spell of heavy rain arrived.  It must be added that Neil spent yesterday photographing an insignificant butterfly in the Cotswolds.  In consequence, he has been elected President of the Entomological Riff-Raff Club.   

On this day 40 years ago, I saw the first males of the incredible 1976 Purple Emperor season...

Herts and Middlesex

Andrew and I checked out Ruislip today between 1 and 2. There was sufficient sun should Purple Emperor be flying there, for them to make an appearance we felt but they didn't. If anyone is interested in seeing Purple Emperor at Hampstead Heath, there will be a visit there on Sunday 10th July lead by Andrew with Frank Nugent. Full details are available on the HMBC website http://www.hertsmiddx-butterflies.org.uk/fieldtrips-new.php Have a good season everyone Liz

Not iris but ilia

Like all wise rulers preparing for battle it makes sense to send out scouts to survey the battleground . Last week in St Dizier , France this is what has taken place with HIM sending out Ilia before making an appearance . Several males were seen patrolling the willows around the edge of a lake , one of them being very obliging . Sadly i returned to GB before HIM showed up .

Monday, June 27, 2016

We're off!

Greetings from the 2016 Purple Emperor season, which kicked off today at Knepp Wildlands, West Sussex, with three males (the first exploring the oak tops at 3.05, then a vicious thug of a male which attacked me at 3.45, then one going into roost in the oak crowns at 5.15).

In addition, Rob Hill saw a male on territory at Hill Farm Territory on Bookham Common, Surrey, at 3.35.  

I think these are the first nationally (and rather hope so as I've never managed to see the first of the season, at least in the modern era).  

This is very early days, though, so don't expect a plethora of sightings in the next few days.  I doubt this is going to be a particularly good season, but a great deal depends on flight season weather - which can only improve...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Does My Cremaster Look Big In This?

Here is a photograph of Raymonda, the Knepp media tartlet, following her latest costume change. She threw on something less comfortable knowing that the TV cameras were turning up today, although you'll have to wait until late summer before she appears on the box.

With the exception of Duke of Burgundy (which went bonkers) no species of butterfly has performed well yet this year in Sussex. The same fate may befall Him/Herself, but there will be more at Knepp than anywhere else, with the possible exception of the Mighty Fermyn.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Inappropriate Dress

A gentle reminder about our dress code...

You should know that it is grossly inappropriate to appear in an Emperor site dressed like this - 

In this instance the offending logo was successfully covered up -

But if it happens again the offender's guts will be splayed out on a tree stump for His Imperial Majesty to feast upon...

Apatura iris, of course, possesses one of the biggest egos in the universe, and a violent temper.  Don't upset the powers that be...


The Knepp Wildlands larva (known as 'Raymond') whose antics have been chronicled on this blog since last September spent the weekend pupating, and revealed itself to be Raymonda...

She'd travelled 4.5m up tree to pupate towards the end of a branch. Here she is on Sat 18th, spinning a silk pad -

She didn't mind being manipulated for photography, and carried on slowly spinning silk.  (She's must be the most photographed Purple Emperor caterpillar of all time, and a true media tart).  

Today, Sunday, she had turned around, attached her back end to the pad she'd spun, and was ready to swing free and transform - 

Here she is photographed from below, when the branch (which comes down easily) had been gently released - 

Given that the insect spends on average 18 days in the pupal state, she's likely to emerge circa July 8th.  But note that she's probably a late-emerger as she fed throughout on the shady side of a tree - most larvae move to the sunny side in spring, and progress quicker. 

My guess is that the first males will start to emerge in Sussex and Surrey on July 1st (given that the forecast for the next five days is poor).  

Watch this space, something Big will happen...