Terry's Admiral Project in Britain update?

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #14476

    Jane
    Participant

    Hey Terry,

    How did your admiral project get through? I remember at one stage you Admirals were looking like they might not make it through, and seeing your name in the forum has made me wonder how you got on………I think you were down to a last few at one point…..any chance of an update?

    Regards and best wishes – Jane

Viewing 25 replies - 26 through 50 (of 985 total)
  • Author
    Replies
  • #51533

    Terry
    Participant

    Only 3 butterflies emerged from the last batch of 7 pupae and I have one more viable pupa at this time. This along with batches of larvae dying off from wilt has put the project at high risk of failure. With less than 1 month to the shortest day in the UK and only a few tatty specimens left flying in the butterfly house, it really could be the end of the project. If it does come to an end then it will be the perfect time to completely strip out the butterfly house and sterilise thoroughly before deciding on what species to try next. After 20 years I suppose it’s not the disaster it could have been if they had not kept going for so long. I have learned so much about this species that it has been well worth the effort. I will probably settle for breeding our Red Admiral, vanessa atalanta, when I start again, as I have already overwintered this species and as I can feed the larvae on Pellitory of the wall without getting stung as you do with nettles. The other good thing with this species is they arrive in the UK every year in varying numbers so they are easy to replace when required whereas getting New Zealand stock is now almost impossible due to new ill informed restrictions. I will avoid getting involved with anything so time consuming again and take it easy as I enter the latter years of my life. Having said all this there is still a chance of a few making it through the winter and then of course it’s back to the hard work of keeping it all going again.

    #51456

    Terry
    Participant

    It’s been a real struggle this autumn so far. I only got 7 pupae from a batch of sterilised eggs the rest going down with wilt, and now have another 2 batches on the go. I must get one batch though in good numbers going into December or it will be almost impossible to keep the project going into next year. I am low on butterfly numbers in the greenhouse already so it is crucial for some success this time.

    #51406

    Terry
    Participant

    Most of the latest generation of butterflies have now emerged. They were a lot smaller than usual probably due to poor quality nettles at this time of year. We had our first frost last night so the heater was utilised for the first time. I have some larvae feeding up for another generation and collected a few eggs yesterday to sterilise. If I can get a good number of fresh butterflies emerging by the end of November then the project will probably continue into next year. There is no telling what sort of winter is on it’s way, so I have to be prepared for any eventuality. A hard winter is the most difficult to cope with but mild winters are also a problem, if it is mostly overcast, as sunshine is required to keep the butterflies active and to nectar successfully.

    #51368

    Terry
    Participant

    I managed to get 36 wilt surviving larvae through to pupation then the next batch of sterilised larvae took the total up to 110, however these larvae were smaller overall due to poor quality food-plant this late in the year. Wilt also broke out in this batch and this meant that only half of the possible total was achieved. It looks like the frosts of autumn will start at the beginning of November this year so the Butterflies and wilt surviving larvae in the Butterfly House will slow down with the lower temperatures and all I have to do is concentrate on gathering any eggs laid on sunny days and hopefully top up the butterfly stock through the winter with indoor reared larvae, hoping enough survive through to spring and then of course it all starts off again. My biggest surprise throughout the projects life span of 20 years is how I managed to keep the wilt infected stock surviving. This disease is impossible to eradicate and normally destroys stock, but the sterilisation of eggs has made the difference between continued success and failure. but for how much longer?

    #51312

    Terry
    Participant

    I have so far managed to get 26 of the wilt surviving larvae through to pupation, however the losses are still high. I also have two batches of smaller larvae from sterilised eggs but they are developing much slower now the cooler autumn weather is kicking in. Today I removed two of the pins attached to the automatic vents in the butterfly house leaving one vent operational. This is to allow heat to build up when the sun shines and keep the butterflies more active.

    #51292

    Terry
    Participant

    As the cool autumn weather takes hold in the UK I found a few wilt surviving larvae in the Butterfly House and collected them up to see if they will make it through to pupation. The cooler weather seems to lessen the effect of wilt to a small degree. I am still waiting for the 100 pupae reported in last post to colour up and also have 2 small batches of sterilised eggs which are now producing larvae. The next task will be to try and get numbers of Butterflies up ready for the winter period and hopefully in to year 21 of the project.

    #51274

    Terry
    Participant

    Lost a large batch of larvae to wilt but luckily another 100 from an earlier batch just pupated with no problems. This disease is very resistant to treatment and almost impossible to eradicate without the Butterfly House being emptied and left fallow over a few winters. This I cannot do so the fight between myself and the disease continues.

    #51250

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Jacqui,

    Maybe I could suggest replacing the old document of mine with the latest version as a search on google only finds the older version. Maybe you could put the new one somewhere on Monarch Trust website where it will be found easier by interested parties as it holds the most up to date info. I linked to it from further down this thread as that is the only place I could find it.

    #51249

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Jacqui,
    Yes the document would be useful but there are some differences in behaviour in the adult stage. I found, and I know Norm has also found, that the New Zealand Red Admiral can be a bit unpredictable when it comes to obtaining pairings in captivity. I found that unlike the Yellow Admiral it was harder though not impossible to get them to pair mid winter but also sometimes in the summer period. I never did work this species out in full but Norm Twigge has lots more experience with them than me.
    I suggest linking to the latest document (below) as it has photo’s and is updated with extra information.

    https://www.monarch.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Yellow-Admiral-Breeding-Programme-at-2017.pdf

    #51248

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Terry, I have a question with regards to red admirals… it may be something you’ve answered earlier.

    For a person who knows nothing about breeding RED admirals, would your document about yellow admirals be useful? Are there big differences (besides the colour)? I know red admirals are a forest butterfly, and yellows more from open ground… but what other differences are there?

    For anyone reading this, Terry’s booklet has a huge amount of information and can be found here:

    https://www.monarch.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/yellow-admiral-breeding-programme.pdf

    **********************
    Fixed – try this version here:

    https://www.monarch.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Yellow-Admiral-Breeding-Programme-at-2017.pdf

    **********************

    Thanks, in advance.

    Jacqui

    #51246

    Terry
    Participant

    This latest batch of larvae to make it through to pupation has produced 190 pupae. The first 3 butterflies emerged yesterday and I have placed fresh trays of rejuvenated nettles in the Butterfly House to accommodate the eggs to follow after pairings have occurred.
    I have another small batch of full grown larvae that should start to pupate this week, which is just right to keep a good supply of butterflies as we head in to the Autumn season here in the UK.

    #51177

    Terry
    Participant

    Only 88 of the pupae emerged and now its a wait to see if the next 2 batches of larvae make it to pupation or die of the wilt. I hope they make it as the late summer is the worst time of the year for the project and I need a good number of Butterflies going into the Autumn in order to make the winter phase easier.

    #51115

    Terry
    Participant

    The 2nd instar larvae contracted wilt and all died. This leaves me with the 116 pupae and the fresh larvae hatching from sterilised eggs. It just goes to show how quickly one can go from a large number of larvae down to a smaller number in a very short time with this dreadful disease in the stock. If the next batch go down with wilt it would lead to crisis point very quickly. The sterilisation technique is far from a perfect answer to the problem.

    #51092

    Terry
    Participant

    The batch of pupae totalled 116 in the end. That’s a fair amount to keep the project going and I also have another batch of second instar larvae feeding up. I have already sterilised yet another batch of eggs and the larvae are appearing even as I write this. The weather has been very unsettled here in the UK with much rain, but on the continent of Europe they have a heatwave. Rather them than me!

    #51076

    Terry
    Participant

    Another batch of larvae have started to pupate. Not so large this time and possibly only up to 100 if all goes well. I also have some 2nd instar larvae and some freshly sterilised eggs.
    The weather took a turn for the worse in July with very unsettled conditions and plenty of rain. This however can be a blessing in disguise as the wet weather means better quality nettles for feeding the larvae and hopefully fewer losses as a result.

    #51041

    Terry
    Participant

    Most of this huge batch of pupae have now produced butterflies. The next couple of days should see the remainder emerge due to the hot weather. The next job will be to collect freshly laid eggs and sterilise them to make a back up to the small larvae I have already developing. Wilt is a problem at this time of year due to the hot weather so back ups are necessary. The project is very time consuming and at this time of year with the nettles past there best, it just takes more time to gather enough food plants. My health is not too good at the moment which also makes it a bit of a struggle, but the project gives me a distraction from that, so helps in some ways.

    #51018

    Terry
    Participant

    The total of pupae from the last batch was 450. These should produce plenty of butterflies and see the project through to the middle of August. I already have 1st instar larvae from sterilised eggs developing so this creates a good back up. The Nettles in the wild are now past there best so I must be prepared for higher larval losses late summer. The most important time to get a large brood through is late autumn as these Butterflies will be the ones to see me through the winter months and into a new season.

    #50973

    Terry
    Participant

    I now have another generation of V Itea larvae in the process of pupation. I have no idea how many yet but it looks like a large number and no sign of wilt disease. I will need to collect another batch of eggs for sterilisation this week to start the following generation. The weather has been very hot but this has been good for native species with good numbers of Purple Emperor in there known locations and the odd stray showing up as well. I saw one on the 4th of July at White Downs on the North Downs near Ranmore Common this Tuesday. The Dark Green Fritillary are also doing well this year.

    #50864

    Terry
    Participant

    I had problems with last post so had to edit it. The link should be working now!
    New Photos were Albums; Botany Bay, Fairmile Common, Blean Woods, And Small Blues at Park and Ride.

    #50863

    Terry
    Participant

    The Heatwave is over now and we are back to normal summer weather, that is cloudy with sunny spells. The 350 pupae have produced about 300 butterflies but there were quite a few deformed, due to the heatwave I assume. The next generation is now 2nd instar so hopefully things will go smoothly but a wilt outbreak is an ever present danger.
    Here is a link to other Butterflies seen by myself and friend Jeff over the last Week.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/16358104@N08/albums

    #50826

    Terry
    Participant

    The total of pupae from this batch of Yellow Admiral actually reached 350. I also received a surprise when transferring freshly hatched larvae to a box with nettles, that I had accidentally cut a nettle with a batch of Small Tortoiseshell eggs on the underside, so I carefully removed the eggs to another box and will either rear these through and release the butterflies or find a nettle patch to place the larvae on outside. The weather is very hot at the moment and set to continue like this for a few more days before returning to normal.

    #50822

    Terry
    Participant

    I lost one whole batch of larvae to wilt last week even though the eggs had been sterilised. It only takes one larvae to go down before it spreads like a wild fire through the remaining stock. Luckily I had a batch previous to that one where the larvae stayed free of the disease and yesterday I glued up the first 150 pupae. The are a few more pupae still to be formed but some of the later ones are showing signs of the disease so at my estimation I may end up with approximately 300 in total. I have already started collecting eggs from the last generation to emerge, and sterilised these yesterday so now it is just a matter of waiting for the larvae to develop and off we go again.

    #50763

    Terry
    Participant

    Regarding the Lantana bushes, they have now both been cut back hard including the Lemon Tree. Over the years all three have managed to grow so large they now push against the roof netting so a serious pruning was essential. I have already noticed the first Lantana bush has green buds on the trunk so it has survived. I just need to bring in fresh nettles when the next batch of pupae start to colour up and then; on to another generation of Yellow Admirals! Will the madness ever end?

    #50757

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Hi Terry, regarding the lantana bushes, they will propagate easily from cuttings and only take about 6 weeks to form a root system. Much quicker than waiting for seed, I do it often to keep up a supply of nectar plants.

    #50731

    Terry
    Participant

    250 pupae glued up today. I have noticed that the average size of the pupae is down, now that the early spring nettles are no longer available.
    I have also given one of the lantana camara bushes a severe pruning in the butterfly house. In fact the pruning was very brutal and I think it may take a long time to recover, however they are both way to large now so something had to be done. The second one will be pruned very soon but I will take a few seeds from it first just in case they both perish. The remaining Yellow Admirals from the last generation are looking very worn and tatty so the timing of the next batch was just about right. I also have second instar larvae for the following generation, so barring any severe outbreak of wilt I should get butterflies through to late summer with that generation.

Viewing 25 replies - 26 through 50 (of 985 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.