Sunday, September 29, 2013

Larval Progress

I am nearing the end of my annual survey of iris ova & larvae in and around Savernake, for the fifth consecutive year.  The 'egg lay' is very good, perhaps as good as that of 2009 when 141 eggs & larvae were found.  However, the breeding areas have changed -  new breeding grounds have developed and some favoured hot spots have become neglected. 

Larvae are now entering, or have recently entered, their 3rd instar (L3), in which they hibernate.  Here's a larva changing from L2 to L3.  Unusually, it's changing on its original (1st instar - L1) seat pad.  Note diagnostic feeding -

And here's another which has just changed from L2 to L3.  Note the cast skin behind the larva's tail and cast head piece -

Meanwhile, someone else is putting in a serious challenge for Butterfly of the year 2013 -

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Notes and Views

Just spotted a copy of Notes and Views if anyone is interested - Mark
SeeNotes and Views


Not quite such a happy tale as Pete's:
On Monday I went for a stroll in a local(ish) wood where I had found a dozen or so ova and young larvae earlier in the year. Unfortunately, FC staff had carried out their annual 'habitat mismanagement' works, and the ride-side sallows upon which the ova/larvae were observed have now been flailed.
"It's all about public access sir" although quite what the 'public' need with a 25 foot ride wide (with no vehicular access) is beyond my slow pate.
I don't suppose that the impact upon the population will be anything more than utterly insignificant, but sometimes one does have to wonder.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Back in Wilts

After a wonderful holiday in Thailand, I popped into a Wiltshire Wood on my way home from Bristol today to see how the Purple Emperor larvae are doing. I'm pleased to say that some are now in their 3rd instar and looking very healthy. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do a thorough search and Egbert and Baldrick have gone walkabout. Blackadder was on his usual spray, though, and I also managed to relocate 4 other larvae. Some shots below.

2nd instar larva - just!
3rd instar larva with old skin caught in a hole in the leaf!
3rd instar larva

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A photographic scrapbook of Bookham Common's Hill Farm territory (2013)

Hi all, shame that the weather had to eventually turn!

Anyway, I've put together a series of pics illustrating aspects of Purple Emperor behaviour in and around the canopy of Bookham Common's Hill Farm territory. Hope that it brings back a few recent memories of this past season... Cheers, Rob Hill

I'll start with male Emperors fighting/chasing - pairs at first...

Then groups of three...

Then groups of four... (did see a few fives but moving too quickly to get camera up in time - maybe next year)

Then to finish with a few shots of emperors interacting with other insects...
                                          Purple Hairstreak

                                          Red Admiral chasing

                                        And finally - a repeat of the dragonfly that turned from the chased to the chaser!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Basic silhoutte/outline A.iris image???

Hi all,

I am looking for a silhouette/outline image of A.iris similar to the moth image shown below, most likely printed in an antique entomology publication. All of the images I am able to find online are all rather detailed, whereas the image required needs to be quite basic, ideally just showing venation and basic patterning of the upper side of the wings. Does anybody please know of and could suggest a source of such an image? Any/all help in relation to this matter really would be very much appreciated.

Advanced thanks,


Friday, September 6, 2013

September iris: a retraction!

I've just received the following mail via our website administrator:
"Mark Griffiths reported this unusual event: "Visiting Woodstock, Oxon on Saturday (31st August) we were having lunch when a black and white butterfly, vaguely like a White Admiral, appeared flying around the flower baskets. We saw it a few times, flying up and down the street, including when it was flying around the roof of the Town Hall. Clearly an exotic it must be an escapee from the Blenheim Palace butterfly house. Although I didn't get a close view, when we were about 10 feet away I was able to make a tentative identification. I've been in contact with Blenheim and they have supplied me with a list of species they have. After consultation with my wife (who has better eyesight!) we believe it was a male Blue Diadem butterfly, Hypolimnas misippus."
Here's a link to a photo of the Blue Diadem:

I was not aware of the butterfly house at Blenheim Palace, and it is now highly likely that the observation from 2nd September was also 'an exotic', escaped from the butterfly house.
Thus, the last confirmed sighting from the Upper Thames region was on August 21st.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

September iris!

This news came to me first via Richard Fox and Jim Asher. At first, I was sceptical and didn't feel I should post it, since the observers had never seen iris. I questioned them politely, and this is their reply, and I was convinced.
Until this sighting, the last in Upper Thames had been seen on August 21st in Homefield Wood [BBOWT], Berks.

"Hello Dennis – alas no, I didn’t take a pic. It’s always the same – no camera when you need one. I’d never seen a PE before and didn’t know what it was, but checking the internet leaves me in no doubt whatever. The flashes of purple sheen on its wings as it flew – just like a hummingbird! – were astonishing and unmistakeable. But, knowing that one witness may easily be mistaken even when not positively dishonest,  I mentioned my companion. He is John Howard of 6 Market Place, Woodstock. John, who is chairman of the Cotswold Antique and Art Assn and therefore ever so respectable, isn’t a butterfly boffin at all, but we both got a very good sighting for half a minute or more.
The date was September 2, the time c. 1.30pm, the place Woodstock churchyard, the weather warm and sunny, the breeze barely stirring the leaves. The butterfly was resting on a tombstone (I think – I paid more attention to the noble beast than the architectural environs) in dappled shade under a tree, to the left of the gate on the Blenheim Palace side of the church. From its size and underwing colour I knew immediately it was a new one on me and pointed it out to John. Then it bestirred itself and started to fly about – a most wonderful spectacle, like a vision of the tropics in deepest Oxon. It was a great privilege, and no doubt a lifetime experience.
Thank you for letting me know the sighting was very unusual for Sept. That adds even more to my pleasure and excitement.
I am a farmer in Cornwall. This year the tonnage of butterflies on my land has been remarkable – the silver-washed fritillaries are so numerous you’ve almost got to beat them off with a stick. Small whites in veritable clouds, like when we were young. So I’m sort of butterfly-aware, but make no claims to expertise.
kind regards