Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sallow leaf damage

How likely is this leaf damage (on a fallen sallow) to have been made by Purple Emperor, or could it be any of numerous species of Lepidoptera - the location is Epping Forest, Essex? We are still trying, in a lazy kind of way, to find our first larva. Thanks, Liz & Andrew

Monday, November 9, 2015

Conking out...

Over the weekend (7th & 8th Nov) I watched a larva entering hibernation, at Knepp Wildlands in West Sussex. 

He (named 'Raymond') had been photographed fully coloured up on an about-to-fall leaf on Thurs 6th, by Penny Webb, Knepp's ecologist -

Then, mid-morning on the 7th I found him slowly crawling about some 30cm away, on a different twig system, in driving rain.  He then conked out here, in pre-hibernation mode -

Then, mid-morning on the 8th he was found back near his old feeding spray, which had fallen off.  After observing the Act of Remembrance, it being Remembrance Day, he spent 30 minutes spinning a loose silk pad on the stem next to a prominent bud (the 4th bud from the spray tip), then he conked out on the pad, hopefully for five long months, to dream of spring...  Here's him spinning - 

And here's him conked - 

And here's a wider view of his location, a typical hibernation spot -

Now, if only I could conk out for the next five months...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Full House

Every single one of the following photos was taken today 03.11.15

Freshly laid ova (3rd generation):

Ova about to hatch (3rd generation):

L1 larvae (3rd generation):

L2 larva (3rd generation):

L3 larva (3rd generation):

Diapausing L3 larva (2nd generation):

Fresh L4 larva (3rd generation):

Fully grown L5 larva (2nd generation):

Pupae (2nd generation):

Imago's (2nd generation):

Paired imago's (2nd generation):

As my 3rd generation L3 larvae have failed to diapause, I am hoping to ascertain if it is now possible to continually rear this species. For those interested to learn more, please send me Facebook friend request:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Into Hibernation...

Good to find one larva in hibernation in Savernake yesterday -

Most are still on the leaves, colouring up -

Every year I hope for cold, wet weather at the start of November, so that larvae don't wander far before conking out, and I can find them easily ...  but every autumn we get ridiculously mild weather precisely then, and larvae wander far and wide...  Cross.  

Friday, October 30, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Final Savernake Tally

This year's tally of autumn larvae found in/ around Savernake Forest is 21.  This is the same as last year's (poor) tally, but is better than I'd feared as the survey season ended relatively strongly yesterday.  My sincere thanks to Mark Tutton for helping.

Most larvae were found in two hot spot areas. Several favoured breeding areas were unsuitable this year because of severe tree hopper damage to foliage during June and / or serious squirrel damage to bark.  

Yesterday we found that two larvae had probably gone into hibernation (their feeding sprays had yellowed or fallen), though we couldn't actually find them - they may have travelled >3m.  I'll look again when all the leaves are off.

Two of the six larvae we saw yesterday were about 50% coloured up, prior to hibernation, three of the other four were starting to colour up, but one was still in full Lincoln green. 

Here's a green one hiding in a leaf tip drip - 

And here's one who will have to go off into hibernation very soon (though it will have sealed its leaf on to the twig stem with silk) - 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Towards Hibernation

My two captive larvae coloured up ridiculously early this year. This one was photographed on 14th Oct and went into hibernation on or around the 20th - 

That's early, very early...  And they are on a bush which stays suitably green well into November.

I checked six in the wild last Sunday (the 19th), and found that they were colouring up fast.  

Looks like they're going into hibernation early, which is odd as they changed into the 3rd instar rather late.  

All this begs the question of what do they know which we don't?????