Birth of an Emperor

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Padfield
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Birth of an Emperor

Postby Padfield » Mon Jul 15, 2013 5:17 am

Here are Trajan's first moments of adult life. For those who haven't followed, I rescued the chrysalis when the sallow it was in was cut down. He emerged in the afternoon yesterday, 14th July - ironically, Bastille day!!

The first changes are visible about 20 secs into the video.



I released him in the woods the same day.

Guy
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Re: Birth of an Emperor

Postby Cotswold Cockney » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:18 am

Nice one.

So, 'she' was a male after all ... :D
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David M
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Re: Birth of an Emperor

Postby David M » Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:45 pm

Watching that 'live' must have been one hell of an experience, Guy. Thanks for sharing it and let's hope He passes on His genes to the next generation.

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Re: Birth of an Emperor

Postby Nick Broomer » Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:05 pm

Brilliant Guy, i`m really pleased that he made it. Thanks for sharing.

All the best, Nick.

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MikeOxon
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Re: Birth of an Emperor

Postby MikeOxon » Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:25 pm

Loved watching this :D :D :D

Mike

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Rosalyn
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Re: Birth of an Emperor

Postby Rosalyn » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:23 pm

A happy ending :D Well done

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Re: Birth of an Emperor

Postby Padfield » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:52 pm

Thank you for the comments. It was warm and windless last night and sunny today, so Trajan should have flown this morning with perfect wings. It will be sunny tomorrow too - he is a lucky emperor.

But what an amazing life he has lived since his emergence from his egg, probably last August. I have made a page documenting the life-cycle of the purple emperor, here: http://www.guypadfield.com/irisearlystages.html. The two pupae illustrated are Constantine and Diocletian, neither of whom, tragically, lived to fly. I will add Trajan and a link to the video.

Guy
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Re: Birth of an Emperor

Postby P.J.Underwood » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:41 pm

Guy,I found the video absolutely fascinating.I think this should be shown in school biology lessons to all ages!
P.J.U.

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Vince Massimo
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Re: Birth of an Emperor

Postby Vince Massimo » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:02 pm

Fantastic result Guy :D
I also love the life-cycle report. I was hoping that you would eventually get round to compiling one, as you are one of the few people to have amassed the necessary images (from the wild or otherwise).

Regards,
Vince

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Paul Wetton
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Re: Birth of an Emperor

Postby Paul Wetton » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:38 am

Excellent video and life cycle page G.

I looked for hatching or discarded Pupae in Fermyn Wood at the weekend in the hope of being able to film an emergence as you did but had no luck. Plenty of pristine adult males about about coming down to the ground in the morning though.

What time of the day did the emergence begin?

Thanks
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Re: Birth of an Emperor

Postby Padfield » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:37 pm

Again, thank you for the comments. I agree, P.J. - it is truly fascinating to watch this. I imagine no matter how many times you see a butterfly emergying from a chrysalis the wonder never wears off.

I don't know how long it will be before I will be finding early stages again in my woods, Vince. :( I will write to the forestier, who was very helpful and friendly when I last wrote to him, about Japanese knotweed, but I think the woods are privately managed, so he can only advise.

Paul, Trajan emerged in the early afternoon. I had got up at 06h00, intending to check the chrysalis and go out for the day if it was still green, or set up the camera and wait if it was coloured up. It was green, but it had darkened since the night before, and the white spots were just visible in the wing area. So I decided to stay at home (thank heavens!) and watched as the colour scheme continued to change all morning. Some areas grew still darker, as if some great hulk was conjuring itself into being within. Other areas whitened - I think as they dried out, in preparation for cracking open. I can only imagine what divine alchemy was working inside that paper-crust! It was like watching paint dry, but absolutely riveting!

At about 14h00 I decided to do a quick local check on my nearest lesser marbled fritillaries but I left the video camera running just in case anything interesting should happen while I was out. I didn't expect anything to happen, but this was my one chance and I didn't want to screw it up. I chose not to zoom in closely, as I didn't know where the butterfly might head if it emerged while I was out and I didn't want it walking off-screen.

When I got back, about an hour later, it was all over. A perfect purple emperor was hanging up to dry next to the chrysalis. The camera was still running. I hardly dared hope the whole thing had been caught on film, but it had. David said it must have been wonderful to watch it live - but I think it was actually more wonderful to come back to the deed, done in secret, and then use digital magic to wind back time and peep at what Trajan had tried to hide from me.

I know (from the full video) that he emerged 15 minutes after I left the house. As the video shows, the emergence and wing-pumping was achieved within YouTube's 10 minute, 1GB, limit, but he remained motionless for much longer than this and I didn't disturb him. It was about 16h30 when he jumped off the branch and glided, like a paper plane, onto my desk. I walked him into a cardboard box I had had ready in the fridge (so the air inside would be cool) and popped the box back in the fridge. But when I felt how hot it was outside I thought I should take him to the woods the same day. After all, he had chosen to emerge in the afternoon - it wasn't an accident. I'd lived with no lights and all curtains open for the last four days!

I hope that helps Paul or anyone else who might try to film a similar emergence. Perhaps the most important thing, stressed by Pete and CC, is that although the freshly emerged emperor might look perfect after a few minutes it takes a long time for the wings to harden fully. I never saw Trajan fly - and I would have killed him if I had 'launched' him. I left him on sallow, above the ground (so wood mice wouldn't find him) and trust he flew the next morning.

Guy
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Pete Eeles
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Re: Birth of an Emperor

Postby Pete Eeles » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:51 pm

A truly riveting story Guy - and thanks so much for sharing!

Cheers,

- Pete


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