Thursday, December 23, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
BBC2 is to transmit a one hour Natural World programme entitled Butterflies - a very British obsession at 8pm on Fri Dec 17th (not Tues 14th as previously published - they changed it at the last moment).
The grand opening (and of course centrepiece) of the programme is the appearance of His Imperial Majesty, the Purple Emperor, filmed in Straits Inclosure & Goose Green Inclosure, Alice Holt Forest, Hampshire, and Fermyn Woods, Northants, at the zenith of the immortal 2009 iris season (by kind permission of the Forestry Commission and His Imperial Majesty). Hibernating and full grown larvae also appear, and there is a remarkable showdown between Messrs Hulme and Oates. There's also some good side show material, such as the 2009 Painted Lady invasion, Silver-washed Fritillaries courting at Bookham Common, an incredible flight of Heath Fritillary, and cameo appearances by the Mountain Ringlet and Large Blue.
Narrated by Imelda Staunton, the programme is primarily about the cultural significance of butterflies in Britain today. It will be the highlight of your winter - skip the office party, The Messiah, Nine Lessons & Coughing etc., and enjoy!
You heard about it first on this website.
Monday, November 15, 2010
2 Most larvae assume this charcoal grey colour before they come off the leaves. They then match the grey bark well. This larva is in the airport departure lounge.
3 If they settle next to a live bud they change colour to this yellow-green form within about a week.
4 So, this grey larva, which had been in hibernation here for less than a week, should quite quickly turn yellow-green.
I'm only following nine wild larvae in hibernation at present, scattered in several woods. I may find two or three more, but the egg lay was poor (about 1/3rd of 2009's) and the pre hibernation survival rate seems to have been lower than in 09 (I have yet to analyse the data).
Finally brethren, with regard to England's magnificent victory on the rugby pitch on Saturday (which I listed to whilst caterpillaring): why can you never find an Australian when you need one? They simply disappear... .
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
1] 2009 was twice as good as any as the previous 6 seasons, but 2010 was even better with 75% more sightings than in 2009. I've no idea why; has anybody?
2] HIM was seen in 46 localities, of which 12 were new habitats, by 45 recorders
3] The best territory was in a very small wood, aptly named Little Wood. Around one huge Ash and several Oaks at the highest point, sightings were made on 15 days between June 28th and August 7th: a 40 day period.
4] The first sightings were on June 28th, and the last on August 8th.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Will the person who deposited a half bottle of Casillero del Diablo in a cleft in a sallow (a female caprea no less) in the Forest of Braydon, north Wiltshire, remove it at once as it is causing considerable offence and may be interfering with the over-wintering of iris.
As those of us of the Second Covenant will know, when The Almighty performed his inaugural miracle he did not turn the water into an insult to wine (as above) but into at the very least a good ordinary claret.
Meanwhile, iris has mostly wandered off into hibernation (three out of 20 larvae were still on leaves yesterday). Unfortunately, the larvae seem to have been stimulated by unseasonally warm weather into wandering a long way prior to settling down, and are therefore going to be extremely hard to find in hibernation this winter. With only a small sample size to start with, the one thing I needed this autumn was cold weather at the start of November, to prevent larvae from moving far from their feeding leaves. A miracle is needed to retrieve the situation.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Clacket Lane appears to have all the requirements for being designated an emperor "hot-spot" - toilets, refreshments, easy parking and cover if the weather turns nasty!
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I took the attached pics last year in the Morvan in central France, where my wife and I were camping in our VW van by a lake. The insect caught my attention as it was sucking greedily at the grouting on the open-air washing facility tiled floor. Looking closer I noted that was a Purple Emperor (I have never seen one before). It flew outside where I snapped it perched on a vehicle wheel. We returned this year but didn't see anything interesting on the campsite save for White Admirals, Painted Ladies and the like. We did however spot an unusual white in a rose hedge (ouch!) and took a poor picture which revealed a Black-veined White.
Hope this of some slight interest,
Monday, October 18, 2010
In case you're wondering, this is Heidegger - this year's larvae are named after western philosophers (and I thought I'd start with the only one that's worth reading).
Saturday, October 16, 2010
I met up with Matthew and some of the brethren at Fermyn in July 2008 ( a stunning day: I was lucky enough to see iris aplenty and even had the luck to watch some high-level mating) and have been folowing the blog ever since. I'm particularly interested in the searches that Matthew and Neil have conducted for third instar larvae, and am extremely keen to participate if such a scouring ever takes place back at Fermyn. Are any such hunts intended this year please?
Thursday, October 14, 2010
What to buy for Christmas: The Butterfly Isles by Patrick Barkham, Granta Books £20 (£11.40 from Amazon), being published on 18th October.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The book, I can assure you, is an absolute cracker: buy it and find out... . The principle chapter is entitled The Curse of the Purple Emperor, in which he realises that those who follow the Swallow-tailed moth, or whatever that effete showy thing that haunts the Norfolk Broads is called, will never see the Monarch of all the Butterflies until they repent and convert to the true faith. Brother Patrick, the chapter reveals, was struck down on the road to Fermyn Woods on 5th July 2009 - by a large dollop of Vietnamese shrimp paste - and promptly converted. His mission now is to spread The Word to the gentiles.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Suffice it that there is a lot of Sallow Mildew around this autumn. I will keep a close watch on these larvae to see how they fare.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Our Pledge: If taxomonists dare so much as to consider changing this sacred name the People of Purple Persuasion will rise in countless thousands, torch all centres of taxonomy and impale any taxonomists found therein, and who are not of our persuasion, on Nordic walking poles - and then cover themselves in shrimp paste outside 10 Downing Street, naked.
Meanwhile, poor Brother Quercus has been garroted again. He is no longer to be known as Zephyrus quercus but is now to be called Favonius quercus. As any humble Classicist will know, Favonius is the (pre-Christian) Roman equivalent of Zephyrus, the God of the West Wind. What, then, is the point of this name change, especially as the butterfly - which conducts its courtship and mating along sunny west-facing wood edges in early evening - loathes the west wind (which prevents it from mating)?
Meanwhile, betulae - meaning, of birches - remains the specific name of Brother Betulae, the Brown Hairstreak, which has no association with birch trees. Has anyone ever seen a Brown Hairstreak settle on a birch?
Signed, in his own blood, and with high blood pressure,
Monday, September 27, 2010
I have nearly finished searching the trees searched last year in Wiltshire, and it looks as if the 2010 egg lay was about 1/3rd of that of 09. More anon.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Thought some of you might appreciate viewing some of the SEM images of iris wing scales which I took earlier today. Images detailing:
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
'Irisscientist' had captive 4th instar larvae die off this May in a similar manner to my recent illustrations. But Derek Smith, who has bred one or two iris in his time, wondered whether the larva I featured had been predated (I think not: I checked the skin, which seemed intact).
I suspect a wet weather virus, but welcome other people's experiences and views. I'm not an experienced breeder and don't know what I'm talking about here... .
However, in the wet June of 1977 I lost about a dozen larvae (the only year I've tried to breed more than a few) when an orange fungal rust developed on the sallow leaf undersides. I did get it checked up but have forgotten what it is called. It proved instantly fatal. It seems to be associated with wet summer weather (remember the Silver Jubilee rains of June '77?!).
In the wild, grey-white Sallow Mildew Uncinula adunca var regularis develops quite commonly in late summer / autumn on the uppersides of leaves of sallows overhung by taller trees. I suspect it is fatal to iris larvae, though the females seen incredibly adept at avoiding laying on branches / trees which later become affected by it. Does anyone have any experience of this?
Meanwhile, Gentlemen, I am in a state of Severe Nervous Anxiety: Somerset are threatening to win the County Championship... .
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
To end on a happier note, here's a recent picture of a healthy wild 3rd instar larva (note the pale horns, indicating recent skin change). Most have now changed into this instar.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I write to enquire if anybody has any further information about the works of this illusive Mr. W.A. Cope, as internet searches unfortunately fail to yield any details regarding his work in relation to iris, which would deem him worthy of this title?
Any/all leads that can provide further information on this matter would be very much appreciated.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Gentlemen, we are currently skin changing, from the 2nd to 3rd instar (in which we will stay for seven months). Note the yellow band at the back of the head, indicating that the skin is getting oh so tight... .
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Having so far been unable to find any such existing data, I have been able to compile the attached table (within a word.doc) and wondered if you (or any of the thepurpleempire.com colleagues) know of any additional data that is not already mentioned within? If so, I would be most grateful if these could please be forwarded onto me (with relevant references) in order to improve on the limited amount of data that I already have. The C.ulupi/Se.chandra India data I am currently awaiting confirmation of final classification which was awarded.
I thank you for any assistance that you might please be able to provide in regards to this matter. Regards, Mark
Can anyone help Mark Youles with his researches? You can download the document to which he refers here:
and you can reach Mark here:
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Showing an egg about to hatch, with the larva's black head prominent, and a standard middle aged egg. When freshly laid they are a uniform blue-green.