Thursday, March 31, 2011

Today saw a mass movement of iris larvae from their overwintering sites to nearby buds, with a large amount of variance in terms of hardly-opened buds to those well on the way to putting forth foliage any day. Anyway - a comparison of various sites is shown below. T'will be interesting watching these critters develop.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Progress Report

In the wild, most surviving larvae have moved from their hibernating positions to align themselves next to a swelling bud. They're not very clever at picking the right bud, and often line up against a slow bud when there's a bursting bud nearby, or even next to a dead bud. Perhaps they're feeling sleepy, or are in no real hurry as they need to change colour first. The operative word here is 'surviving' as predation levels were exactly the same this winter as last. British tits have a lot to answer for, and Purple People should not tolerate tit boxes in Emperor woods.

Here's Lot's Wife, photoed yesterday, who's featured several times on this blog asleep in a scar on a stem - grey on grey.

Meanwhile, back at home, eight of my 10 captive larvae have moved up on to buds, leaving two still hibernating low down - but the sleeve is in quite a cool and shady spot. All look healthy (but they can shrivvel up suddenly at this time of year).

And Brother Neil and I saw two Large Tortoiseshell on the Isle of Wight last week... Now, that's a fine insect, worthy of sitting on the right hand side of His Imperial Majesty.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Those of us old enough to have been around when the Samantha Eggar version of "The Collector" hit the streets will remember how every publisher ransacked their stock photo collections for butterfly pix. The Nymphalidae predominated, but a nice surprise to see Croceus there. It should, of course, have been Lasiocampidae, but you can't expect them to have worked that out.

Monday, March 21, 2011

On The Move

Gentlemen, Lady: His Imperial Majesty is on the move. Half my 10 captive larvae have moved from their hibernation quarters to positions close to buds, and are greening up too. Probably similar doings in the wild. I'll visit soon.

Meanwhile, is this the oldest sallow in the Empire? A male Salix x Reichardtii alive and well at Ashridge in the N Chilterns (near the Bridgwater Monument, where there must be a 'master tree'). It's obviously been coppiced in the past.

Monday, March 14, 2011

More Predation...

Gentlemen, Lady. I have just visited my dwindling hibernating iris larvae out in the wild & dangerous woods. Two more have been lost to assumed predation. One of these losses was unusual, and interesting, in that most of the buds on that particular twig had been crunched, including the one the larva (named after one of the sons of Noah, can't remember which one - Hem or something) was lined up against.

My guess is that from now on we no longer just hate British tits, but also the Bullfinch. What else would do that? I didn't photograph the damaged buds as the spray is high up and needs a step ladder. My cat has been informed.

This winter's predation pattern is similar to last year's. Yet to kick in is late winter / early spring desiccation, which can also affect captive larvae.

Can't stand much more of this. Next winter someone else can follow iris larvae through, I'm not doing it again...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Jazz Band!

Unfortunately Matthew it would appear that the ULTIMATE Jazz band heroes of "Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis" (1995) may have unfortunately just pipped "Deus" to the Premiere Apatura album cover crown. As for UK butterflies, if memory serves the Hollies "Butterfly" album depicted a nice cover of a Fritillary (Pearl-Bordered???) back in 1967, but considering the prolific use of butterfly images around this time, there maybe some other, prior covers which display images of various UK butterfly species! Would be interesting though to see who can find the find the first depiction, on an a music or film album cover of an Apaturinae???


Are you in this picture? If so, you are set to appear on the front cover of the forthcoming album by the avant garde pop group Deus! There will be no speech bubbles or inappropriate text: the image and the butterfly say it all. The small profit made will go towards Purple doings, maybe even a litre of fuel. Deus found the image on this website, which of course has a huge cult following...

Patrick Barkham (standing at back) is a fan of Deus. I'd never heard of them, but am now a great fan... The picture was taken in Fermyn Woods on 5th July 2009.

Thus Apatura iris becomes the first British butterfly to appear on an album cover - another one-up on the large blue and other entomological riff-raff... This butterfly will take over the world...