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.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Apatura iris in Silly Places

Pleased to report a male Purple Emperor in my friend Melissa Harrison's house in Streatham, SW London, on 25th July 2013.  It released itself, and continued its journey...

That male may well have been a genuine wild insect.  However, we have to be careful as Purple Emperors are included in batches of mixed butterflies released at weddings and other celebratory events.  For example, last July a male was recorded on the butterfly transect at Minnowburn, a wooded valley owned by the National Trust on the western edge of - wait for it - Belfast, Northern Ireland!  Detective work by Catherine Bertrand of BC NI discovered that the butterfly had been released, with other species, at a wedding in Belfast two days previously.  This practice may explain last summer's sighting at Sheringham, near Cromer, on the Norfolk coast.

But you can never tell with Emperors.  In 2007 a female was found squashed on the steps outside the High Court in London!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In Pursuit of Butterflies, a 50 year affair

In Pursuit of Butterflies, a 50 year affair will be published by Bloomsbury on June 4th.  

The book chronicles diverse adventures in time and place with British butterflies, and a vast array of caterpillars and suchlike.  Adventures range from the sublime to the ridiculous and back. 
The essential subject is butterflying, but love of place figures strongly, and love of periods in time (such as the long hot summer of 1976 and July 2013).

450 pages including 16 pages of colour prints (2 per page), plus black & white line drawings by Tim Bernhard.  It's a big book but it's designed so you can dip in and out of it at will.

There's a pre-publication offer of £17.09, down from £18.99.  Here's the link -   

The One Butterfly that matters more than the rest strung together and multiplied by pi r squared features prominently, especially in the early and later chapters.  The front cover is, of course, exclusively purple.

To whet your appetite, here's an aberrant male iris, I photographed in Hampshire back in 1981 -


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The 2015 Challenge

In line with Matthew's desire to focus his efforts on the female of the species this season, I have devised a challenge to reward those lucky enough to be afforded an audience with 'Herself'.

Currently in production are 20 very special pin badges depicting 'Herself'. They are slightly larger than the original Purple Emperor badge produced last year. This will maintain the scale when worn together on whatever you wish.

The only way to obtain one is to participate in the 2015 challenge. To qualify you must be a be a blogger on this blog and post a good quality photograph of 'Herself' on the blog.

The only other rules are:
1) The photo must be taken this year (2015).
2) It must be clearly discernible as a female of the species.
3) It must be in a natural setting.

Due to the very limited number of badges it will be one badge per person.

The badges will have a suitably apt backing card. Be mindful though that they are offered on a first come, first served basis so you'll need to be quick.

I will comment on your photo to acknowledge your enty and confirm that you have secured a badge.

If you've not been fortunate enough to see a female, she's a much bigger and rarer beast than the male. Here's a photo taken last summer, not the best image in the 'Empire' but gives you an idea of the minimum standard of photo expected.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Getting Through Winter

Nearing the end of February and I still haven't lost any of my five hibernating larvae to predation, and none has moved either.  This is in stark contrast to last winter when by late Feb 50 out of 64 had vanished to assumed predation, and several had moved in the mild conditions.  The tits don't seem to have found them this time round.  Up yours titmice!

Here's one of the lovely survivors.  It's greened up a tinge - 

And Another - 

They've got a fair while to wait still, not least because sallows have scarcely started to silver up yet as the weather has been quite cold since mid-January.

Here's my first butterfly of the year, seen earlier this week - and the good news is that it's a Nymphalid year -

Monday, February 16, 2015

50 Shades...

In cinemas from Fri Feb 20th, The Duke of Burgundy: Lesbian S&M version of 50 Shades... set in a timeless world inhabited only by women who are obsessed with butterflies.  Certificate: Over 18.

Here's a preview:

Coming soon: 50 Shades of Purple, film noire by Neil Fellini...

Friday, February 6, 2015

Multi Spectral Images

I had some fun today using a Multi Spectral Imager: