Pete Eeles

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Padfield
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Padfield » Sun May 01, 2016 7:40 pm

I love the Essex skipper cats in their eggs, Pete. It's interesting that two are curled anticlockwise and one clockwise. From your previous skipper rearings, do you know if this character is randomly distributed or if there is some pattern?

Guy
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun May 01, 2016 7:55 pm

Hi Guy,

I can't really speak for Essex Skipper, since I only have 1 data point, but Small Skipper (based on their cocoons) seem to be randomly distributed:

gallery/album.php?album_id=801

Or maybe males turn left, and females right :)

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Padfield » Sun May 01, 2016 8:02 pm

Interesting. You sort of expect it to work like a factory production line, with every unit identical - it's quite striking to see this difference. I did wonder the same thing about my purple emperor eggs but didn't see enough just before emergence to draw any conclusions.

Guy
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Pete Eeles
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun May 01, 2016 8:08 pm

I couldn't agree more, Guy! Whatever it is I'm looking at, I probably have more questions than answers. For example, with skittle-shaped eggs (e.g. Orange-tip), the micropyle is at the narrowest point, but with lozenge-shaped eggs (e.g. Essex Skipper) it is at the widest point. I think that Essex and Small Skipper may be the exceptions to the rule, in this case.

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Wed May 04, 2016 3:51 pm

With spring a springing, I've taken every opportunity the last couple of days to get out in my local area - so here's an update.

First off, the best Orange-tip site near me is Aldermaston Gravel Pits which I revisited early yesterday morning to get some Orange-tip shots - as we all know, once the males get going they never stop! The male shown below is, I thought, aberrant - identified as ab. costaenigrata + ab. crassipuncta (with Mark Colvin's help). Certain experts on a butterfly aberrations Facebook group believe that it's within the bounds of normal variation but, given their explanation, the whole topic of "is it / isn't it" is just sooooo subjective. We all agreed that it was a beautiful butterfly, whatever it is!

IMG_6838.jpg
Orange-tip (ab.?)

IMG_6842.jpg
Mrs. Orange-tip


Moving to Pamber Forest, I am down to a single White Admiral larva. Given that I was monitoring 28 at peak, this is quite shocking. Deer seem to have wiped out 3 of the remaining 5, and one has gone AWOL. I consider 2015/2016 to be a "practice run" with the White Admiral monitoring and can't wait for this season when I'll be much better informed on what to expect. Brimstone were also ovipositing wherever I saw them - typically on unfurled leaves of Alder Buckthorn and it amazes me that females are able to "sniff out" the buds, especially since there are no leaves present.

IMG_6856.jpg
White Admiral larva, post-hibernation

IMG_6867.jpg
Brimstone egg


And, back at home, one of the Large Skipper larvae is now in his final instar. I gently prised apart his abode to see that he'd only just changed skin. He's now put his home back together and is munching away happily.

IMG_6889.jpg
Large Skipper - final instar larva


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby William » Wed May 04, 2016 7:57 pm

Great stuff Pete - the 65mm is proving a deadly weapon in your hands, look forward to seeing more!

BWs,

William

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby bugboy » Wed May 04, 2016 8:38 pm

That is a particularly good looking OT and in my humble opinion i'd call it an ab. but like you say when does normal variation cross the line into abberation?
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby David M » Wed May 04, 2016 9:20 pm

Really unusual male Orange Tip there, Pete. I don't think I've ever seen one with such pronounced forewing spots.

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Thu May 05, 2016 2:03 pm

Thanks William, Paul, David!

More poncing around with my MP-E 65mm macro lens :)

IMG_6925.jpg
Orange-tip wing scales - any "green" is an illusion created using only white, black and yellow scales

IMG_6928.jpg
Orange-tip egg 1 hour before hatching

IMG_6960.jpg
Orange-tip larva 1 hour after hatching - 2mm long, with partially-eaten eggshell. Mustard oils already starting to appear


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Wed May 11, 2016 8:18 pm

First off, a few shots from my local patches at Greenham Common (Dingy Skipper) and Aldermaston Gravel Puts (Orange-tip closeups).

IMG_7022.jpg
Dingy Skipper mating pair

IMG_7038.jpg
Orange-tip

IMG_7044.jpg
Orange-tip

IMG_7042.jpg
Orange-tip hindwing upperside


Croatia

I've been in Croatia this week (just back), specifically, Zadar, on the Mediterranean coast. Flying into Zagreb on Sunday, I drove the 190 miles or so to Zadar, passing probably the most unspoiled and beautiful countryside I've ever seen while travelling via a couple of national parks. At one point, I could see for (I believe) around 20 miles into the distance, with nothing but meadows and green lush fields before me, which eventually climbed up into the mountains in the distance. Not a single house or human in sight! Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera that would do the landscape justice; this will have to wait for another time. Some of the bridges over the equivalent of our motorways were covered in shrubs and had signs indicating that they were in place to support the free movement of bears and wolves. With a population of only 4.2m, it's not surprising that the overwhelming feeling is one of "space".

I had intended to stop at the national parks, but the weather against me, with heavy rain and thunderstorms popping up at times. However, as I got to the outskirts of Zadar, the weather improved dramatically (no doubt because it is on the coast) and so I stopped one of many woods that lay on the outskirts.

It really was like walking into a dream with an overwhelming array of species found, just by stopping at the side of the road! They were (I think the IDs are correct!):

Berger's Clouded Yellow, Brown Argus, Clouded Yellow, Common Blue, Glanville Fritillary, Green Hairstreak, Green-underside Blue, Grizzled Skipper, Large White, Marsh Fritillary, Orange-tip, Small Copper, Small Heath, Swallowtail and Wall. Not forgetting the Nine-spotted moth, several metre-long large snakes and a single tortoise! Some photos below, and one of the best work trips I've been on for sure!

Glanville Fritillary - Zadar, Croatia-2.jpg
Glanville Fritillary

Glanville Fritillary - Zadar, Croatia.jpg
Glanville Fritillary

Green-underside Blue - Zadar, Croatia-7.jpg
Green-underside Blue

Grizzled Skipper - Zadar, Croatia-2.jpg
Grizzled Skipper

Marsh Fritillary - Zadar, Croatia.jpg
Marsh Fritillary

Marsh Fritillary - Zadar, Croatia-4.jpg
Marsh Fritillary

Swallowtail - Zadar, Croatia.jpg
Swallowtail

Swallowtail - Zadar, Croatia-6.jpg
Swallowtail

Nine-spotted - Zadar, Croatia.jpg
Nine-spotted moth


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Padfield » Wed May 11, 2016 8:28 pm

Superb pictures - what a great work trip! And amazing close-ups.

Can I be the first to point out your grizzled skipper is Spialia - either sertorius or orbifera depending on which you get in that part of Croatia? :D

Guy

EDIT - checking in Kudrna, it looks as if both fly around Zadar ...
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Wed May 11, 2016 9:06 pm

Padfield wrote:Superb pictures - what a great work trip! And amazing close-ups.

Can I be the first to point out your grizzled skipper is Spialia - either sertorius or orbifera depending on which you get in that part of Croatia? :D

Guy

EDIT - checking in Kudrna, it looks as if both fly around Zadar ...


Thanks Guy - much appreciated. It certainly looked different. Unfortunately, I didn't get a shot of the underside. I was being "lazy" by thinking that the submarginal spots on the hindwing = Grizzled!

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Tue May 17, 2016 6:56 pm

A brief update from south of the border ... I've spent quite a lot of time in Scotland of late :)

Greenham Common
Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper and Green Hairstreak have all emerged in fair numbers at Greenham Common, although it's early days for this site. However, I did get a chance to photograph both Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak eggs:

2016-05-13-15.55.47 ZS PMax.jpg
Green Hairstreak egg

2016-05-16-21.38.53 ZS PMax.jpg
Dingy Skipper egg


In the garden
Back at home, the Orange-tips continue to pass through, with quite a few eggs laid. The earliest has resulted (already) in a final instar larva ... the one below having just changed into its final instar. What is most amazing, however, is that the Alder Buckthorn in my garden hasn't had a single Brimstone egg on it (that I've seen) in the last 5 years (when I first bought it from Mike Mullis). This year, I counted 32 :)

IMG_7516.jpg
Orange-tip larva - final instar (just!)


Heyshott Escarpment
And finally ... my first visit to Heyshott, where Mark Colvin showed me around (2 days after he had led a walk there) ... thanks Mark! This really is a superb site (as I'm sure everyone on UKB knows!), in terms of both flora and fauna. I can certainly see why Duke of Burgundy is flourishing here. I can't wait to go back when the northerly wind has departed! A couple of shots below.

P1040179.jpg
Grizzled Skipper

P1040091.jpg
Duke of Burgundy - male


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby peterc » Wed May 18, 2016 6:50 am

Hi Pete,

Those close-up pictures of the Brimstone and Dingy Skipper, for example, are stunning. Well done.

You say you counted 32 Brimstone eggs on your Alder Buckthorn this year. Do you think they were all laid within 2-3 days? Most text books state that eggs are laid singly so I do wonder how many female Brimstones might have attended your plant and laid eggs on it.

ATB

Peter

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Wed May 18, 2016 6:59 am

Thanks Peter!

Around 20 eggs are (were) all the same colour and so it is possible that a Brimstone had an egg-laying fest, while laying each egg singly. However, other eggs were different shades, suggesting different females.

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby peterc » Wed May 18, 2016 9:40 am

Hi Pete,

I have (had) a similar experience in that 20-30 Brimstone eggs were laid on my buckthorn this year (none last year) with the vast majority showing the same shades of colour. I can't imagine more than 20 females laying on the one plant so I suspect maybe, like you say, a few. Did I read somewhere that generally once a Brimstone egg has been laid on a buckthorn plant no new females will attempt to oviposit on that plant? I just hope that the 6-10 larvae which are on my buckthorn don't turn cannibalistic - probably not :lol:

ATB

Peter

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Wed May 18, 2016 9:43 am

Hi Peter - the larvae are not cannibalistic to the best of my knowledge. Unlike Orange-tip, whose conspicuous orange eggs are supposedly this colour to deter females from laying on the same plant. Dingy Skipper eggs also turn orange, but their larvae are not cannibalistic, so I wonder what they're so conspicuously coloured!

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby peterc » Wed May 18, 2016 3:16 pm

Hi Pete.

It may be something to do with the quantity and/or quality of the larval foodplant itself. For Brimstones and Dingy Skippers, for example, there might be enough 'good' food from the plant to continue their development.

ATB

Peter

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Jack Harrison » Wed May 18, 2016 3:53 pm

Orange Tip cannibalism is in my [limited] experience of breeding them, purely opportunistic. I have never seen larvae actively attacking one another, but if a larger larva happens upon a smaller one that is where it is eating, then the poor little fellow is simply eaten along with the developing seed pod. It doesn't seem to be a deliberate act. My ten penn'orth.

Jack

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Tue May 24, 2016 8:45 am

Glasdrum Wood
An early start saw me at the wood at around 0700 when I was able to check up on the Chequered Skipper pupae that I've been monitoring (since they were eggs and larvae) and it looks like all of the adults have emerged, although I was unable to relocate one pupa after a thorough search, so I assume it has been predated. It was a pleasure to show the remnant pupal cases to the few people I met (Dave and Steve Williams from West Midlands BC, "Chris" and another David). A full report of this study will be posted in due course!

Glasdrum looks it best at this time of year, and the new shoots of Purple Moor-grass (the larval foodplant of the Chequered Skipper and Scotch Argus) are starting to appear.

1.jpg

2.jpg


Anyway, it was perfect weather to see Chequered Skipper - not too hot and a good amount of cloud - so they weren't buzzing around like mad things and settled frequently for photos! I estimate that I saw between 30 and 40 adults in total (yes, you read that correctly) - it would seem that the delayed emergence we're seeing in other sites doesn't apply at Glasdrum! Of that number, 3 were female, suggesting that the population here is yet to reach peak, although it can't be far off, given these numbers.

3.jpg
Chequered Skipper - male

4.jpg
Chequered Skipper - male

5.jpg
Chequered Skipper - male

6.jpg
Chequered Skipper - male

7.jpg
Chequered Skipper - female


I also came across a single aberration that seemed to have a good amount of markings on the forewings.

8.jpg
Chequered Skipper - male aberration

9.jpg
Chequered Skipper - male aberration


As well as the skippers, there was also a single female Pearl-bordered Fritillary and several Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (all male), the latter seemingly just starting to emerge given their condition. Several Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni were also seen, along with several White-spotted Sable moths. The diversity at this site is just incredible!

10.jpg
Pearl-bordered Fritillary - female

11.jpg
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - male


A word of warning for anyone planning to visit. Firstly, this is midge central and I was bitten pretty badly at times - so badly that I had to move away from my camera to clear the midges from around my eyes. I also had to wear a long-sleeved top all of the time (which was uncomfortable whenever the sun came out, as I heated up!). So do take insect repellant! Secondly, the ground is very very wet in place and I always wear wellington boots myself at this site, even though I have a good pair of walking boots.

Cheers,

- Pete


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