Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mixing Up The Medicine

Shocking video of Neil Hulme mixing up his shrimp paste bait bucket.  Fermyn Woods, 8th July 2014.  Not for the faint-hearted.

'I love the smell of shrimp paste on the forest rides in the morning.  It smells of Victory!'


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Purple Emperor Butterfly at Chedworth Roman Villa

Not sure if Matthew spotted this but Female photographed not far from his home in the Cotswolds on 30 July at the site of an old roman villa - National Trust property by all accounts see
Kind Regards

Monday, August 18, 2014

Honorary Butterfly

By the powers invested in me I hereby declare the Bee-eater an honorary butterfly, and am entering it for Butterfly of the Year 2014.  It is almost as amazing as the Purple Emperor, almost.  It is good to have an insectiverous butterfly.

Here's two of the eight or so currently breeding on the Isle of Wight (photo by courtesy of Andy Butler, IOW naturalist and Servant of the Glanville Fritillary) -

Friday, August 15, 2014

very low numbers of larvae?

I agree with Matthew so far. It may turn out to be a very poor season for larvae.
I spent 90 minutes today looking for larvae on Salix caprea trees in a good iris wood in Bucks. Normally, in an average season, I would expect to find about 4 larvae in that time: I found none. I didn't even see any leaves with the characteristic eating pattern, but without larvae, indicating that a predator had got there before me. This points towards a low egg lay, possibly due to a below average number of females.

Off with his head

My firstborn, Brahmā, shed his skin in the rain this morning and entered 2nd instar. His skin is visible as a gelatinous mess at his tail and his old head capsule is on the leaf beside him:

Brahmā is a wild caterpillar, living at about 1000m in the Alps. He hatched on 3rd August and passed his first instar almost entirely in the cold and rain - but this does not seem to have delayed this transition. I think 13 days for first instar is normal.

Later in the day he coloured up:


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Closing Time...

My last sighting of Apatura iris this year should prove to be the old male seen patrolling one of the favoured territories along the summit of Three Oak Hill Drive in Savernake Forest yesterday, Sat August 9th.  I had thought that the butterfly would last a little longer than that in Savernake, given that adults didn't start to emerge there until June 30th but the strong winds of the tail-end of Hurricane Bertha should end the season.  Gales knock this butterfly right out.

The general impression is that this has been an 'average' season at most sites, though distinctly below average at some and perhaps a little above average in one or two places, notably in Fermyn Woods which is in a dimension of its own. 

At Savernake, the real test will come when I finish my systematic search for eggs and larvae, which I have done annually since 2009.  My guess is that the 'egg lay' there is right down, to something like 30-40 - i.e. extremely low.


Egg through a straw

Of a dozen iris eggs I have found this summer, five have hatched, three are heads-up, ready to hatch in the next couple of days, and one has been sucked dry by some predator:

Notice the small hole in one of the transparent panels. That must be where something stuck its proboscis in and drank the contents. Yesterday, this egg looked like this:

Clearly, either the contents is liquid at this stage or the predator injected some digestive fluid to liquify it.