Monday, July 21, 2014

Preliminary A.ilia Male Bait/Attraction Test1

A short video detailing the exposure of a recently eclosed male A.ilia specimen to a pure solution of my predicted male bait/attraction compound. The active component rapidly dissipates. I think this initial test confirms that further investigation is certainly warranted. What do you all think?


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Evening Flight

In hot weather (days with a max of >23C) the males tend to take a mid afternoon siesta before becoming nicely active in the early evening.  Old males are particularly prone to do this.  Late in the flight season they are often inactive during the mornings and are very much afternoon - or early evening - butterflies. 

In the present weather conditions it is well worth looking for males from 5pm onwards, until about 7.30.  The challenge, though, is finding where they are, for activity is distinctly localised and not necessarily in known afternoon territories.  They move with the sun and congregate in discrete places - sheltered but sunny tree summits, gaps and corners, out of the wind.

On Friday, Savernake Forest put on an excellent evening flight during this period.  I even had a male in fair condition come down to the ride surface (5.20).  They are still going quite nicely in Savernake, but it is a 'late' site.

Friday, July 18, 2014

last flurry?

Since we've only been seeing a few during the last 5 days in UT, we have assumed that 'the end is nigh'. However, our best observers, Wendy and Mick Campbell observed 10 yesterday in a relatively small area of woodland. Matthew, what is the shortest season you have encountered? For me, it is not less than 4 weeks. Since we started seeing them properly on June 20th here, then I would hope we would continue to see some, at least, during the next seven days.

Herself at a distance

See blog 'immobility of iris'.
These are the photos which Tim Watts, warden of Calvert Jubilee Reserve, Bucks,

took. Her Majesty is about 10m up in the Ash and about 15m distant from where Tim was. His equipment is impressive.
Further sightings have been made here, so another piece of evidence for HIM not being confined to woods.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


She is a lady of no small consequence (to borrow Voltaire's immortal phrase). 

Most of the time she looks Down on us, like this:-

But this next photo, taken by Richard Roebuck at Knepp this July, really shows her character best - and what we're up against:-

This must be the best photo ever taken of a female iris

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Winding Down?

The 2014 Purple Emperor season is starting to wind down.  Many males now look like this ragged fellow (who was, of course, intent on fighting to the very end, at Knepp last Sunday; taking on all-comers, and winning).  Both sexes are likely to become 'heat suppressed' over the next two days, as outside the magical first few days of its flight season iris is lethargic in high temperatures.

The forecast heatwave may well prove too much for many tired old boys, and for some egged out females, especially if it is followed by intense thunderstorms on Saturday, as is forecast.  However, iris should remain visible in the larger colonies, and at late-emerging sites like Savernake, for at least another week (in fact, iris should remain on the wing in Savernake into early August, though much depends on the weather).   If you haven't seen this butterfly yet this year, or haven't seen enough of it, then this Sunday represents your last big chance (Saturday is supposed to be seriously wet).

The males have been relatively well behaved this season, partly because there hasn't been much assorted biodiversity flying about in the canopy to wind them up - there's been a general shortage of bees, hoverflies etc up top, and the Purple Hairstreak seems to be in low numbers (certainly so in Sussex).  Nonetheless, a goodly number of birds have been splatted, especially tits (We Hate Tits!).  This seriously testosterone-loaded male, seen at Knepp last weekend, and already illustrated here by Neil, has won our annual Vicious Thug of the Year Award, for shooting down an entire flock of mixed tits -

Note  This blog functions all year round, not just during the flight season.  Please continue to visit and post things up.  Emperor season without end...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Grounded female

Determined not to see the season out without seeing a grounded iris, I ventured out to the forest in Arundel. Having spent an hour searching an area, I put out a mayday to Colin Knight who gave me the exact location I needed to be in and that he would join me.

On arrival at the new location, Colin dispensed a foul smelling liquid that he assured me was an attractant from his accessorized purple spray bottle. I had an unfortunate whiff that nearly sent me running.

We then checked to footpath and then off into the woods for signs of activity in the tree canopy.

An hour elapsed before we returned at midday to find nothing was down on the baited patches. Then as luck would have it, a female descended between two parked vehicles and started to feed on salts. Allowing for some good photo opportunities I managed a couple of record shots.

She then moved off down the track into the woods and flitted into the trees at low level.

An hour later she reappeared and whilst Colin was getting his fill of photos, I stood back and watched another iris (sex not determined) come in from the left an sit on some foliage before becoming invisible and vanishing into the woods.

The original iris then came down again and we noted that she to have a stupor to her left side whilst on the on the ground and Colin noted that he had seen this with the individual a few days before. Has anyone observed this in the species?