At least one of us was out in the Emperor's woods on New Year's Eve... I was in Savernake, with deer, tawny owls, a bat, Mottled Umber moths blundering about, shadows numberless, and church bells calling out from Marlborough. Then the fireworks took over.
Unfortunately, two of the three larvae I had marked out there have vanished (though they might have moved long distances - I need to return in daylight, as torchlight is inadequate). Larva No 9 remains, but had moved 6 cm during the mild December.
Yesterday, Jan 2nd, I checked the two larvae I have marked out in a sallow at Knepp Wildlands. Both had moved since my last visit on 27th November: one 20 cm, and the other a massive, record-breaking 2 m.
Here's No 1 ('Raymond'):-
And here's No 2 ('Raymonda'), after a 2m sleep walk -
She's the one with the skull marking behind her head, but it doesn't show well when she's curled round a twig scar.
Hopefully, they'll both conk out properly now, sleep through the winter, and dream up the spring...
I've now seen iris in the wild, in one or more of its life stages, for 92 consecutive months. This is Obsession (at least I hope it is)...
The prospects for the 2017 Purple Emperor season are not great. Last year was just about the poorest season I've known (I think 1990 was worse), the egg-lay was low, and larval mortality (as measured) was again quite high during the autumn - but much depends on how well the larvae over-winter, and on spring, June and, especially, flight season weather.
Prediction: My intuition tells me that the first 2017 iris will take to the air around high noon on 24th June. Be there!