Pete Eeles

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Thu Jul 28, 2016 4:37 pm

Jack Harrison wrote:A thought. A modern publication of butterfly early stages (photos) is long overdue. You wouldn't make any money out of it but future generations of butterfly enthusiasts might simply refer to "Eeeles" in the same way that we talk about "South" or "Ford". I have no doubt "Hulme" will join that exalted company in due course.


Thanks Jack - I'm very flattered! Whatever the medium (website, book, article, etc.), my intention is always to share my passion and hopefully generate enough interest for others to join our wonderful hobby and help conserve the creatures that we get so much pleasure from! A photographic equivalent of Frohawk would be a magnificent addition to the available literature, although I'm not sure that any individual could achieve that in this day and age. However, I think the UKB community as a whole would be the natural source of images and experience! I'll have a mull over this.

Thanks Mike, for the suggestion. I'll be visiting the OUMNH quite soon (I think!) and will look further into the techniques they're using (I had some insight into the origins of the Microsculptures exhibit last year when I spent some time behind the scenes at the museum).

Padfield wrote:... if you have time one day, could you try taking two sets of pictures, moving the camera slightly laterally between sets ...


Sure - no problem. I'll need to set up a macro rail for the movement (it will have to be relatively-fine) but that's no issue. I found 5 White Admiral ova today, but won't get another chance to visit them until Wednesday next week, when I suspect they will have emerged. I might start with something in the garden (Large White, Small White, Holly Blue ... once they've laid!). I'll be in touch!

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby David M » Fri Jul 29, 2016 8:37 pm

Stunning stuff, Pete, and I look forward to Guy's 3D transformation with great interest.

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:30 pm

Thanks David!

White Admiral larval instars

As part of my White Admiral studies, I've deliberately placed a focus on answering an outstanding question posed on these forums from last year - does the White Admiral have 4 or 5 larval instars? I can confirm, based on my own observations, that I agree with most literature in that there are, indeed, 5 instars in total. My summary of the analysis is in the table below (with the figures on length and duration taken from Frohawk).

stats.jpg


The main point of discussion is the transition from the post-hibernation 3rd instar larva to 4th instar. While the body colour could change based on the ingestion of green matter, I felt that the head capsule would be diagnostic, and so it is; 3rd instar has a brown head capsule, and 4th instar black. There is also a significant difference in size. Although not shown in the table above, my anecdotal measurement of a fully-grown 4th instar larva would be around 15mm, which is significantly larger than any fully-grown 3rd instar larva.

Of course, I've tried to capture the evidence as shown in the images below, and look forward to any further discussion! I must admit, I've really enjoyed playing detective on this one :)

1st instar-4.jpg
1st instar

1st instar.jpg
1st instar

2nd instar-2.jpg
2nd instar

2nd instar.jpg
2nd instar

3rd instar.jpg
3rd instar

3rd instar-2.jpg
3rd instar

4th instar-2.jpg
4th instar

4th instar.jpg
4th instar

5th instar.jpg
5th instar

5th instar-2.jpg
5th instar


And, finally, I came across this beauty at my study site (Pamber Forest in Hampshire):

IMG_9135.jpg
Silver-washed Fritillary f. valesina


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Padfield » Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:45 pm

Brilliant observations, Pete, and just mind-blowing pictures. Those head-on views are extraordinary.

I've mentioned this before, I know, but I'm sure these caterpillars were the inspiration for Brachen demons!

Image

Guy
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby bugboy » Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:53 pm

Fascinating stuff Pete :) and yes fantastic pictures to underline your findings.

All the best sci-fi/horror is inspired by nature I find Guy
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Wurzel » Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:49 pm

Fantastic weird wee beasties Pete and topped off with a sublime Greenish :D :mrgreen:

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Fri Aug 26, 2016 5:16 pm

Thanks Guy, Paul, Wurzel - and apologies for taking so long to get around to thanking you! Things have been very hectic behind the scenes, and I'm not just talking UKB enhancements, but whole new projects, one of which ("Project Frohawk") will be announced soon, where I'm hoping that this community can replicate what Frohawk is best known for - but in pictures. Watch this space!

Up Against the Wall

I've spent a good amount of time at Calstone Coombes (Wiltshire) this past week, which is probably my nearest reliable site for Wall, my target species. I saw quite a few (among the Adonis Blue, Common Blue, Meadow Brown and Clouded Yellow) and was specifically focused on ovipositing Wall and their eggs, having been inspired by Badgerbob's (Bob Eade) fantastic summaries. I saw at least 7 females, with most "oviposturing" (as Guy would say): "Going through the apparent motions of ovipositing without actually laying any eggs". As a child, Wall were so numerous that I didn't take a second glance. Now I have to travel over 30 miles to see them. How sad is that? But now that I've finally caught up with them again, I am absolutely stunned by the behaviour of the female when ovipositing. Anyway ... best described in some photos!

First off, Calstone Coombes is an NT-owned SSSI just south of Cherhill. It's a magical place with the most breathtaking rolling chalk downland you're ever likely to see. It comes with the obligatory White Horse that is found in this part of the world, as well as the Lansdowne Monument (an obelisk that can give you your bearings, wherever you are on the downs). I focused at the south-west end of the downs, where there is plenty of bare ground for the Wall to inhabit. The presence of cattle here is, I believe, absolutely instrumental to the success of the Wall, since they're responsible for creating the very bare ground / scrapes that the female Wall like to lay in (on exposed grass roots and dangling grass blades).

1.jpg

2.jpg


I found my first egg within 2 minutes. The second took another 90 minutes; not a great hit rate!

3.jpg
Egg number 1

4.jpg
Egg number 1

5.jpg
Egg number 1


Egg number 2. The biggest pain was that I'd forgotten to take my super-closeup lens with me, so had to go all the way up the downs and back into Cherhill to get it. Hey ho! Still, it was nice to spend a good chunk of time watching the Adonis Blue flying, mating, laying etc. I don't think I'll ever tire of seeing a male Adonis Blue with open wings; stunning! And at least a dozen Clouded Yellow to keep me company.

6.jpg

7.jpg

8.jpg


It was fascinating to watch the female Wall crawl among the dangling roots when looking to oviposit, something I've unsuccessfully tried to capture in the 2nd shot below. I must try video next time!

9.jpg
Mother!

10.jpg
Female Wall crawling behind the dangling grass blades and roots


All in all, absolutely fascinating, and I definitely feel like I've gotten to know the Wall a little better :)

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:36 pm

White Admiral doings

Last year's studies into the White Admiral resulted in the identification of 3 types of hibernacula, which I phrased as "Cut and seal" (which is the "classic" and commonest type), "Seal and let wither" (which is very uncommon; I've only ever come across this twice) and "Fold" (see http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=3977&start=840#p104586). Some examples of 2 of these types from today:

8.jpg
Cut and seal (yet to be sealed!)

2.jpg
Fold

12-6.jpg
3rd instar larva out in the open

12-8.jpg
And confirming her "Fold" type of hibernaculum


Of the 19 larvae I've been monitoring, only 11 remain (but the others may have moved; I'll have a more in-depth look when I have time) and all of these have now created hibernacula, which is slightly ahead of last year. I've spent at least twice the number of hours searching this year, with about half the tally of last year. Even Graham Dennis, the warden at Pamber Forest (my study site), has said that numbers are way down based on the transect he walks. So it doesn't look like this has been a good year for White Admiral, in line with most other species.

Anyway ... I have to report a 4th type of hibernaculum, potentially, which seemed to be quite prevalent today, which I'll name "Half a Job" in that it is the start of the "Cut and Seal" type, but only half of the leaf is cut, and this half is then folded over. 4 examples are shown below. Now it could well be that the larvae will finish the job and I'll report back accordingly! However, the example on the superb pyrgus.de website (http://www.pyrgus.de/Limenitis_camilla_en.html) shows that the leaf is fully cut and only then is the hibernaculum constructed. Watch this space!

1.jpg
Half a job

3.jpg
Half a job

4-2.jpg
Half a job

16-2.jpg
Half a job


Of course, if "half a job" is a valid type of hibernaculum, then I am not assuming that all of the occupants will be male, should anyone ask :)

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby David M » Thu Sep 01, 2016 9:39 pm

Wow! You're really coming up with the goods with these early stage images, Pete. I guess having seen the adults regularly you are now concentrating on the less frequently observed parts of these butterflies' life-cycles?

Is this how we'll all gravitate when we've filled our boots with the imagos?

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby bugboy » Thu Sep 01, 2016 9:50 pm

My own observations concur with what You've found with White Admirals this year. I hardly saw any adults this year at Bookham and I have only managed to fine 5 larvae despite a fair few hours searching. All of which have now vanished, most likely ending up in a small birds tummy!
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:32 am

David M wrote:Wow! You're really coming up with the goods with these early stage images, Pete. I guess having seen the adults regularly you are now concentrating on the less frequently observed parts of these butterflies' life-cycles?

Is this how we'll all gravitate when we've filled our boots with the imagos?


Thanks David! I think there are all sorts of directions you can go in; I just stumbled on studying species ecology and love it and, for example, I get as much excitement from seeing new behaviour (to me) as I did seeing a species for the first time. The rabbit hole just gets deeper and deeper :)

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:33 am

bugboy wrote:My own observations concur with what You've found with White Admirals this year. I hardly saw any adults this year at Bookham and I have only managed to fine 5 larvae despite a fair few hours searching. All of which have now vanished, most likely ending up in a small birds tummy!


Thanks Paul - yes, I think that White Admiral has suffered like many other species this year.

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Thu Feb 16, 2017 5:39 pm

Pamber Forest
I have, at last, managed to get out in the field - something I've been yearning for since coming back from a work trip to Madrid and contracting man flu, followed by shingles :( Anyway ...

Of the 19 White Admiral larvae I've been monitoring, there are now a total of 11 remaining. All are still in their hibernacula, apart from those where the leaf has dried in such as way that there is a significant opening (there were lots of larval bums on display) or where the leaf has been largely lost (one larva was out in the open ... when it shouldn't have been!). Some photos below.

2-2.jpg
Larva #2 - Just visible at the bottom of its leaf

4-4.jpg
Larva #4 - With the 1st instar leaf (with "pier") at the top left

8.jpg
Larva #8 - Fresh Honeysuckle growth has started to appear

9-2.jpg
Larva #9 - In context

9-9.jpg
Larva #9 - Close up - bum on display

15-2.jpg
Larva #15

18-4.jpg
Larva #18 - In context

18-5.jpg
Larva #18 - Close up


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby trevor » Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:50 pm

Man flu and shingles, not nice !.

Hope the White Admiral has a better year in 2017. I had very few sightings of them last year,
though Chiddingfold forest held a reasonable population.

Keep well,
Trevor.

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Wurzel » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:25 pm

Shingles - Ouch! :( At least you're better now and after the pupal fix probably feeling even better :D I too hope the White Admirals have a better year this year, 2016 was dire for them from my personal perspective :(

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby David M » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:58 pm

Great images, Pete. Anyone suffering from shingles deserves a bit of good fortune so with any luck you'll get to follow a few of these to maturity.

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Goldie M » Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:42 am

Shingles Pete can be dangerous, I got them not long since in my neck and head and they caused paralysis in my face, it was awful! luckily for me I've slowly recovered and now nearly back to normal but it was no joke. :( Goldie :)

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:15 pm

Thanks Trevor, Wurzel, David, Goldie! I think I'm definitely over the worst, but it's a very strange feeling like I've been kicked in the side with no bruising to show for it! The odd pain killer here and there is helping me get through it, as well as butterflying, of course!

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:55 pm

It's been quite some time since I last posted and, as usual, it's because there's been lots going on "behind the scenes"! Specifically, while not travelling with work, I've been spending every spare moment filling in gaps in our photos (and collective understanding) of larval instars - which Vince and I launched as "Project Frohawk" quite some time ago. I must admit that I think I've overdone things - since I'm rearing (or observing in the wild) every Satyrid with the exception of the Erebia (which I'll be monitoring in the wild, starting this year) and a few others besides. The welfare of these creatures comes first and my personal diary has suffered as a result while I spend time ensuring that their needs are met. The good news is that I've only lost 2 individuals in captivity - 2 Speckled Wood larvae that were pupating, but were found by a colony of black ants that decided to set up home in one of the wooden barrels I'm using to rear them through :(

Below is a selection of somewhat-random photos, but that are hopefully of some interest - selected on the basis that not many members will have had the opportunity to experience these (every instar has been photographed of those species shown). I should also say that I'm mightily impressed with some recent contributions from UKB members, even if I've not been in a position to personally reply! Especially mating pairs of Vanessids!

tithonus - 4th instar.jpg
4th (penultimate) instar Gatekeeper larva

semele - 3rd instar.jpg
3rd instar Grayling larva

pamphilus - 5th instar.jpg
Final (5th) instar Small Heath larva

hyperantus - 4th instar.jpg
4th (penultimate) instar Ringlet larva

galathea - 2nd instar.jpg
2nd instar Marbled White larva

aegeria - 4th instar.jpg
Final instar Speckled Wood larva

aegeria.jpg
Speckled Wood pupa


As well as these lovely examples, I've also had a Wall larva form a very unusual pupa, in that it is almost black. I was absolutely gobsmacked when I first saw it!

megera.jpg
Very unusual black form of a Wall pupa


And some others:

pruni.jpg
Black Hairstreak ova

pruni - 1st instar.jpg
1st instar Black Hairstreak larva getting stuck in!

w-album - 2nd instar.jpg
2nd instar White-letter Hairstreak larvae

betulae.jpg
Brown Hairstreak ova


And, finally, I received some news from the BMNH (Natural History Museum) that some parasitic (Cotesia) wasps I found emerging from a Chequered Skipper larva in the spring of last year are new to science :) This is still going through the validation process, and specimens of the wasp are currently with a team in Canada to correlate with their Arctic wasp collection (apparently!) before they are formally described as a new species. It just goes to show that there is still much to learn and that we can all contribute.

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby millerd » Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:06 pm

A brilliant set of images, Pete. The patience you have is amazing. :)

And congratulations on the wasp! That's a fantastic achievement. Do you get to name it?

Dave


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