Brimstone (Early Stages)

User avatar
Vince Massimo
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Posts: 1452
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:36 pm
Location: Crawley, Sussex

Brimstone (Early Stages)

Postby Vince Massimo » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:22 pm

The adults of most butterfly species in Britain live for as little as a few days to a couple of weeks. The Brimstone however is generally acknowledged as being the longest lived of all, with some individuals lasting for 11 months. After emerging in early July, the adults feed urgently in preparation for the forthcoming winter hibernation. At this time the males pay little attention to the females and both sexes can be easily be approached. After entering hibernation, usually in a clump of evergreen vegetation such as ivy or holly, they can become active on any sufficiently warm day in winter and so could possibly be seen in every month of the year. In mid to late March they start to appear regularly on the wing. These are mainly males which are now avidly searching for females which have yet to become active.

A female Brimstone is not only very good at finding isolated larval food plants (which are sometimes great distances apart), but she is also a very determined egg layer and can sometimes be seen barging through undergrowth to get to the host plant. Two plant species primarily support the larvae of this butterfly; Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) found on calcareous soils and Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus) which prefers acid soils. Usually a single skittle-shaped egg is laid on a developing leaf bud, but small groupings may also be found. Sometimes, larger groupings of eggs can also be observed on the buds of favoured bushes which are visited by numerous females.

Part 1 - The Egg and Larva

IMG_7287-02G.jpg
Brimstone ovum (freshly laid) - Woldingham, Surrey 30-April-2012

IMG_3925-01GS.jpg
Brimstone ova (freshly laid) - Crawley, Sussex 24-April-2015

IMG_7101-02G.jpg
Brimstone ovum (freshly laid) - Woldingham, Surrey 10-April-2011

IMG_7722-01G.jpg
Brimstone ovum (maturing) - Woldingham, Surrey 19-April-2011

After hatching, the young larva moves to the nearest fresh leaf and commences feeding by chewing holes in the upperside. It soon progresses to the leaf edges and then whole leaves as it develops. When at rest it aligns itself along the midrib on the upperside of the leaf, but when very young it may shelter on the underside, particularly in periods of poor weather. After each moult the old larval skin is often consumed before feeding commences on the plant.

IMG_4060-01G.jpg
Brimstone larvae (1st instar) hours old - Crawley, Sussex 11-May-2015

IMG_4100-01G.jpg
Brimstone larva (1st instar) 1 day old - Crawley, Sussex 12-May-2015

IMG_4105-01G.jpg
Brimstone larvae (1st instar) at rest - Crawley, Sussex 12-May-2015

IMG_0730-01G 1st.jpg
Brimstone larva (1st instar with feeding damage) - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2017

IMG_0858-01G 1st.jpg
Brimstone larva 1st instar (pre-moult) - Crawley, Sussex 1-June-2017

IMG_0877-01G 2nd.jpg
Brimstone larva 2nd instar (post-moult) - Crawley, Sussex 2-June-2017

IMG_0896-01G 2nd.jpg
Brimstone larva (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 6-June-2017

IMG_1015-01G 2nd.jpg
Brimstone larva (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 3-June-2017

IMG_0994-01G 2nd.jpg
Brimstone larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 3-June-2017

IMG_1126-01G 2nd.jpg
Brimstone larva 2nd instar (pre-moult) - Crawley, Sussex 4-June-2017

IMG_1169-01G 2nd-3rd.jpg
Brimstone larva (2nd instar moulting to 3rd) - Crawley, Sussex 5-June-2017

IMG_1148-01G 3rd.jpg
Brimstone larva 3rd instar (post moult) - Crawley, Sussex 5-June-2017

IMG_1193-01G 3rd.jpg
Brimstone larva (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 6-June-2017

IMG_1226-01G 3rd.jpg
Brimstone larva (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 6-June-2017

IMG_1285-01G 3rd.jpg
Brimstone larva 3rd instar (pre-moult) - Crawley, Sussex 8-June-2017

IMG_1289-01G 4th.jpg
Brimstone larva 4th instar (post moult) - Crawley, Sussex 8-June-2017

IMG_1417-01G 4th.jpg
Brimstone larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 10-June-2017

IMG_4655-01G.jpg
Brimstone larvae (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 3-June-2015

IMG_4733-01G.jpg
Brimstone larva (4th instar) pre-moult - Crawley, Sussex 6-June-2015

IMG_1562-01G 5th.jpg
Brimstone larva 5th instar (post moult) - Crawley, Sussex 11-June-2017

IMG_1702-01G 5th.jpg
Brimstone larva (5th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 13-June-2017

IMG_1684-01G 5th.jpg
Brimstone larva (5th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 13-June-2017

IMG_1719-01G 5th.jpg
Brimstone larva (5th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 14-June-2017

IMG_8870-01G.jpg
Brimstone larva (5th instar) - Caterham, Surrey 7-June-2012

Although well camouflaged, the larvae are quite easy to detect in the wild due to their characteristic feeding damage and of course they get quite large towards the end of their development. At the slightest disturbance they adopt a characteristic posture where they raise the front half of their body slightly, tucking in the front 3 or 4 pairs of legs as they do so. They can also be seen resting in this position.

IMG_4661-01G.jpg
Brimstone larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 3-June-2015

IMG_1567-01G 4th.jpg
Brimstone larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 11-June-2017

The posture can also be more aggressive.

IMG_1694-01G 5th.jpg
Brimstone larva (5th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 13-June-2017

This is one of the species which produces droplets of a orange-coloured secretion at the tips of some of the short hairs which cover the body. This has also been observed on Orange-tip larvae, but is more noticeable on the Brimstone because it is a much larger beast. The purpose of this fluid has been the subject of some debate.

27.IMG_8349-02G.jpg
Brimstone larva 5th instar (head close-up) - Caterham, Surrey 30-May-2012

IMG_8341-01G.jpg
Brimstone larva 5th instar (body close-up) - Caterham, Surrey 30-May-2012

When fully grown the larva stops feeding and its colour lightens as it prepares to pupate. It may leave the food plant to seek a safe location in vegetation nearer the ground, but some stay on the host plant. It then suspends itself in a horizontal or head-up position by means of a silken pad at one end and a silken girdle at the mid-line.

IMG_5026-02GR.jpg
Brimstone larva preparing to pupate - Crawley, Sussex 15-June-2015



Vince

User avatar
Vince Massimo
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Posts: 1452
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:36 pm
Location: Crawley, Sussex

Re: Brimstone (Early Stages)

Postby Vince Massimo » Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:38 am

Part 2 - The Pupa

The pupa is pale green, imitating a rolled-up leaf, and it takes approximately 14 days for the adult to emerge.

IMG_9245-02G.jpg
Brimstone pupa on Alder Buckthorn - Caterham, Surrey 17-June-2012

IMG_5272-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa - Crawley, Sussex 24-June-2015


Pupal Development

IMG_1853-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone larva suspended for pupation - Crawley, Sussex 17-June-2017

IMG_1872-L1-01G.jpg
Preparing to pupate - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1873-L1-01G.jpg
Commencing pupation - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1880-L1-01G.jpg
Larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1883-L1-01G.jpg
Larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1887-L1-01G.jpg
Larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1890-L1-01G.jpg
Larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1893-L1-01G.jpg
Larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1895-L1-01G.jpg
Larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1896-L1-01G.jpg
Completing pupation - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1898-L1-01G.jpg
Discarding old larval skin - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1901-L1-01G.jpg
Attaching cremaster - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1903-L1-01G.jpg
Freshly emerged pupa - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1921-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (30 minutes old) - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1936-L1-02G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (3 hours old) - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_1991-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (6 hours old) - Crawley, Sussex 18-June-2017

IMG_2023-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (24 hours old) - Crawley, Sussex 19-June-2017


In the few days leading up to emergence, the wing case areas gradually change to pale or bright yellow while the antennae and wing root areas show red-brown.

IMG_2185-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (46 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 25-June-2017

IMG_2265-L1-02G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (22 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 26-June-2017

IMG_2375-L1-02G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (9 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 26-June-2017

IMG_2401-L1-02G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (3 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2017

IMG_2426-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (20 minutes before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2017

IMG_2431-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2017

IMG_2433-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2017

IMG_2434-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2017

IMG_2436-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2017

IMG_2437-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2017

IMG_2438-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2017

IMG_2439-L1-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2017

IMG_2475-L2-01G.jpg
Brimstone male (expanding wings) - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2017

IMG_2477-L2-01G.jpg
Brimstone male (expanding wings) - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2017


That was the emergence of a male butterfly. The following images chart the the pupal development of a female.

IMG_5283-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (38 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 25-June-2015

IMG_5314-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (15 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 26-June-2015

IMG_5327-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (8 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 26-June-2015

IMG_5336-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (3 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015

IMG_5343-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (1 hour before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015

IMG_5354-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa (15 minutes before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015

IMG_5360-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015

IMG_5362-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015

IMG_5365-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015

IMG_5366-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015

IMG_5368-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015

IMG_5370-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015

IMG_5371-L3-01G.jpg
Brimstone emerging - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015

IMG_5373-L3-03G.jpg
Brimstone female (expanding wings) - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015

IMG_5374-L3-02G.jpg
Brimstone female (expanding wings) - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2015


Background Information

This report was originally produced by rearing a small number of larvae in 2011 and 2012. In April 2015 a further opportunity to study the species arose when a female Brimstone was seen to be ovipositing on a potted Alder Buckthorn plant in my garden. More eggs were laid in the garden in 2017. All the resulting butterflies were released into a suitable and safe habitat.

IMG_1150-01G.jpg
Brimstone female (reared and released) - Caterham, Surrey 26-June-2011


Other Observations

On 24th April 2015 I observed a female Brimstone egglaying on my potted Alder Buckthorn. A total of 9 eggs were found on the plant in small groups, but they did not appear to have all been laid at the same time. The plant remained un-netted in the garden. The first of the eggs hatched on 11th May 2015 and within the following 10 days all 9 larvae were found. From these, 6 larvae pupated. Three stayed on the host plant, but these were all attacked by small parasitic wasps which injected eggs into them. These insects are part of the superfamily of Chalcid wasps, of which there are thousands of species. The adult wasps emerged fully formed through a hole in the underside of the dead pupae, approximately 4 weeks after their eggs were laid.

IMG_5222-01G.jpg
Brimstone pupa with parasitic wasp - Crawley, Sussex 20-June-2015

IMG_5637-03GS.jpg
Brimstone pupa (parasitised) - Crawley, Sussex 6-July-2015

IMG_5683-02GS.jpg
Brimstone pupa (parasitised) - Crawley, Sussex 8-July-2015

The 3 larvae that chose to leave the plant were collected and placed in a netted cage where they pupated. These all produced healthy adult butterflies which emerged on 27th, 28th and 29th June 2015 respectively.
On 22nd May 2017 twenty one freshly laid eggs were found on my potted Alder Buckthorn plant. Most of these hatched on 29th May and, by 31st May, fourteen first-instar larvae were located. Twelve larvae reached 5th instar and some were collected for further study as they started to leave the plant.

Development dates for the 2017 eggs are as follows:

22nd May 2017 - 21 eggs found
29th-31st May 2017 - Eggs hatched (1st instar)
2nd June 2017 - Larvae moulted (to 2nd instar)
5th June 2017 - Larvae moulted (to 3rd instar)
8th-9th June 2017 - Larvae moulted (to 4th instar)
11th-13th June 2017 - Larvae moulted (to 5th instar)
16th June 2107 -Larvae stopped feeding and started to leave the plant
17th June 2017 - Larvae started to spin-up
18th-19th June 2017 - Larvae pupated
27th-28th June 2017 - Adults emerged from captive pupae
5th-6th July 2017 - Adults emerged from garden pupae.

Representative Images of Adults:

The upper sides of the adults are not seen at rest but can be displayed during courtship. In many cases this is when the female is rejecting the male.

IMG_3144-01G.jpg
Brimstone male and female (during courtship) - Addington, Surrey 14-June-2010

IMG_2648-01G.jpg
Brimstone male - Coulsdon, Surrey 12-Aug-2012

IMG_2545-01G.jpg
Brimstone female - Coulsdon, Surrey 11-Aug-2012

IMG_2530-01G.jpg
Brimstone male - Coulsdon, Surrey 25-July-2011

IMG_2607-01G.jpg
Brimstone male and female - Coulsdon, Surrey 12-Aug-2012


Vince

User avatar
Vince Massimo
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Posts: 1452
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:36 pm
Location: Crawley, Sussex

Re: Brimstone (Early Stages)

Postby Vince Massimo » Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:02 pm

This report was completely revised in July 2015 and has now had another significant update. This mainly involves the addition of many new images in parts 1 and 2 (all dated 2017), as well as some minor changes to the text.

Vince

User avatar
Pete Eeles
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Posts: 6139
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:10 pm
Location: Thatcham, Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Brimstone (Early Stages)

Postby Pete Eeles » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:12 pm

That's brilliant, Vince - I especially like the parasitic wasp-related images, but I'm kind of weird like that!

Cheers,

- Pete

User avatar
Padfield
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 6758
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:19 pm
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Re: Brimstone (Early Stages)

Postby Padfield » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:31 pm

That Chalcid wasp looks extremely similar to this insect I found sitting on an adult male brimstone in March this year:

Image

Image

If they prey on the pupae, why would it be marking an adult male? Or is this just a coincidence? Perhaps adult and pupal brimstones have the same scent markers and the Chalcid homes in on these.

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

User avatar
Vince Massimo
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Posts: 1452
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:36 pm
Location: Crawley, Sussex

Re: Brimstone (Early Stages)

Postby Vince Massimo » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:33 am

Thanks Pete, I think I have done as much as I can with this species.

Guy - Brimstones seem to attract all sorts of small flying insects to their wings when at rest. I don't know what the attraction is, but, perhaps they are just basking. However, in the case of the parasitic wasp, I cannot rule out the existence of a residual pupal scent.

Vince


Return to “General”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest