Terry's Admiral Project in Britain update?

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  • #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 - 51 through 75 (of 985 total)
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  • #50710

    Terry
    Participant

    For anyone reading this thread who would like to see some of the butterflies of the UK photographed in high quality here is a link to Jeff Boswell’s Flickr page; JFB Orpington;
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/16358104@N08/albums. This album also contains photo’s from London Zoo conservation and Whipsnade. of which Jeffrey is a ZSL life member (fellow).

    #50692

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Terry has created a really useful document about how he built his yellow admiral butterfly house. You can find a copy here:

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

    Thanks Terry, much appreciated.

    #50687

    Terry
    Participant

    The weather is now hot and at summer levels. The Yellow Admirals are doing well and I have some large larvae about to pupate. The wilt disease is more prevalent in the butterfly house due to the hot weather so all larvae reared are now from sterilised eggs to try and prevent the disease. It is still easy to find good quality nettles to feed the larvae at this time of year but by the next generation the quality will be down as is normally the case mid summer onward.

    #50603

    Terry
    Participant

    The unbelievably cold spring weather looks like it is over at last. The forecast is for near normal temperatures from today. Native butterflies are way behind there normal emergence times and we have a drought in the South East of England to make things worse. I have not seen even one Grizzled Skipper on my searches this year so I hope they are delayed and not killed by the cold. The 350 pupae from my Yellow Admirals are emerging now and I have two more generations of small larvae on the go for the next generation. The Wilt disease is still active so care and cleanliness are essential.

    #50543

    Terry
    Participant

    The total of pupae from the spring generation was 350. I am satisfied that this was a major achievement with wilt disease still in the stock, however the next generation may prove more difficult as the nice fresh spring nettles are getting older and not so nutritious. The spring weather is the worst I can remember. It is very cool and cloudy and nothing is flying in the wild. I had one brimstone egg laid on my buckthorn bush and the larvae died in the cold snap. We are stuck in an east to north easterly weather pattern and the winds are cold. Normally we would be in a south to south westerly pattern and it would be at least +10c warmer.

    #50500

    Terry
    Participant

    I have hundreds of larvae pupating at this time but wilt has broken out amongst the slowest developers. It was difficult to separate them out into many boxes as there are so many larvae to cope with. The nettles in the Butterfly House are huge so I think I need to only collect eggs and sterilise them for the next batch and not collect full grown wilt survivors as I need the nettles reduced and need extra boxes for the sterilised larvae. It’s either that or cut the nettles down manually and wait for them to regrow. The weather is about to improve after one of the coldest late Aprils for a long time.

    #50416

    Terry
    Participant

    It’s nice to report some success with the project this spring time, UK. I have just glued 125 pupae ready for emergence and although the wilt is still active the larvae from sterilized eggs are at this time surviving well. I will find out with the next batch if the improvement is sustained, however the quality of the nettles is always good this time of year and that makes a huge difference. As the summer moves in things could become difficult again. The weather is about to turn very wintry for a few days, but with the longer day lengths now coming in it should not be a huge problem.

    #50214

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Jacqui,

    Like the project I just keep going best I can.

    #50209

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    And how about your health, Terry? Hope you’re doing well. You must feel brighter with the winter drawing to a close.

    Jacqui

    #50208

    Terry
    Participant

    Most of the pupae produced healthy butterflies and now the weather has improved they are pairing and egg laying. It will take a while to start to build up the stock again and the wilt is still active but at least the spring is here so it makes things a bit easier.

    #50054

    Terry
    Participant

    The first 2 Yellow Admirals from a batch of larvae that produced 58 pupae have just emerged. They could not have come at a more crucial time as the Butterfly House is almost devoid of Butterflies as the last generation die off. I am now at the tipping point and these latest must pair successfully and produce fertile eggs or it will be all over. The weather is now improving due to the longer day length and the nettles are growing nicely so here’s hoping it all works out in the end.

    #49875

    Terry
    Participant

    We have had some sunshine at last and the remaining few Yellow Admirals have laid some eggs but most were infertile and I have just a handful of larvae remaining which will be my last chance to get the project running again. If the wilt strikes these down it will be a long shot whether it can continue. As an aside, yesterday I went for a walk on the North Downs nearby to where I live and although it was cool and below 10c I saw a Red Admiral that had obviously managed to overwinter despite the really long cold spell. I saw another unidentified Butterfly flying high through the trees at the car park on the way out but it could have been the same butterfly off on its travels.

    #49693

    Terry
    Participant

    The cold spell of weather is over for the time being and now its mild but cloudy with much rain. The remaining butterflies are just roosting waiting for some sunshine which according to the forecasts will not be until the middle of next week. everything depends on getting enough sunshine for pairings and egg laying now if the project is to continue.

    #49602

    Terry
    Participant

    The cold spell continues over here in the UK with sunny days and really cold nights. +2 down to -7 It is now turning foggy making things more difficult as at least with sunshine and increasing daylight the butterflies get a chance to warm up enough to take nectar on board. There is no real respite for a while but the last disease free pupae are now producing butterflies which hopefully will survive long enough to pair if and when the sun returns. I need sunshine with warmer temperatures to get things moving forward again.

    #49512

    Terry
    Participant

    The real winter weather has now arrived. We have had snow sleet and rain over the last week plus very cold nights. The number of butterflies in the Butterfly House is dwindling rapidly as the cold takes its toll. Of the 23 pupae 1 is just colouring up today. The rest appear to be alive and there are another 10 that have been formed since the 23 and are at this time still alive. I have lost hundreds of larvae to the wilt disease this winter and it really is going to be a close run thing as to whether the project will continue. The days are now getting longer of course but the lack of sunny days, and with warmer temperatures needed it is difficult to predict how things will turn out. To add to the misery my health is not good at this time and increases the struggle to keep it all going.

    #49462

    Terry
    Participant

    I have just glued up 23 pupae ready for possible emergence. I say possible because the wilt has nearly destroyed my stock so these are the last chance to keep the project going. I have butterflies still alive in the Butterfly House but they are well worn and unless the weather is kind to me over January will not produce any eggs. I have been in this predicament before but without the disease in the stock so this time it could be terminal. It’s just a case of wait and hope for the best.

    #49364

    Terry
    Participant

    Out of the 2 batches of pupae I got less then 100 butterflies. The Wilt devastated the 2nd batch with only 6 emerging, the first batch surprisingly being the best. I am fortunate that many butterflies from the generation before are still alive so hopefully they will still be fertile and produce more eggs on sunnier days. Wilt normally dies down during the winter months but not this year. Now the days are getting longer the chances of success increase but there is a long way to go as we enter the UKs coldest months of January and February.

    #49298

    Terry
    Participant

    I managed to get 350 pupae from the last 2 batches but wilt is still killing some of the pupae. I hope enough survive to give me a population boost as we head toward the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere of 21st December. All I have to do then is hope for pairings as the days start to lengthen once again. There are eggs laid in the Butterfly House so things are looking good to move into year 20 of the project. However it is best not to be over confident as the weather could be appalling during the late winter.

    #49172

    Terry
    Participant

    This new generation of larvae are being hit by wilt quite hard. I am experimenting with a few treatments to see if I can prevent or slow it down and if lucky find a cure but it could be that big losses may occur.
    I have to admit that this is partly my own fault for sterilising so many eggs and thus I cannot help but overcrowd the larvae as I have a limited supply of food-plant and plastic rearing boxes to keep them in.
    It is much more difficult to find decent nettles now the winter is nearly upon us over here, so I should be prepared for losses this time of year.
    We have had a few days of sunshine recently and this has produced pairings and eggs laid in the Butterfly House so there is still a chance of another generation from these which should take me past the shortest day and increase the chances of success again.

    #49131

    Terry
    Participant

    The total of pupae from the last batch was 400. However a few of these will fail to produce butterflies and about 325 should be the final tally noting how many of those emerged so far and how many failed. This is a very good total to take me into the winter months. I have another 3 batches of small larvae but feeding these is more difficult as the nettles in the wild are hit by frosts now the weather has turned cold. Getting pairings and eggs laid is also another problem to overcome as sunny afternoons that get the butterfly house warm enough to encourage pairings becomes difficult. Once the butterflies are paired the same problem of lack of sunshine and low temperatures prevent egg laying. Getting closer to the shortest day of December 21st is encouraging if I can keep enough butterflies alive and active enough to do the above. Normally by the middle of February if I have enough healthy butterflies then success is easier but for now its back to the waiting game once again

    #49088

    Terry
    Participant

    The total from the last batch actually reached 350 pupae and could finally tally at 375. However only 2 butterflies have emerged so far as the pupae are in the Butterfly House awaiting emergence and the weather is cool overcast and mild. This means they are developing very slowly and if they are not emerging well by next Thursday they will be bought indoors to emerge as the weather is meant to turn colder with frosts and it would be too risky to leave them out overnight. I have new batches of first instar larvae from sterilised eggs developing at this time but good quality nettles are now hard to find so it may be difficult to repeat this earlier success. The Wilt disease is rife in the Butterfly House with larvae from uncollected eggs dying in large numbers. Maybe the cold weather will slow it up when it arrives.

    #49071

    Terry
    Participant

    I did better than expected with this batch and have 325 pupae in total. As the weather is now cool and the days are shortening rapidly the butterflies last longer than in the summer months, so these pupae should produce butterflies that last well in to November. The wilt is still killing larvae in the greenhouse so it looks like only larvae from sterilised eggs kept indoors will make it through, although having made that point last year a few larvae did make through in the greenhouse as the wilt tends to die down with the really cold weather. I already have small 1st instar larvae from sterilised eggs in 4 plastic boxes on the table behind me as I write this post. With only 2 months to the shortest day all is looking quite positive although one should never be over confident as anything could happen up to that time. The main problem is the lack of decent food-plant as the nettles die back for the winter.

    #49048

    Terry
    Participant

    You can tell the sex of Yellow Admirals by their behaviour. The males will perch either on a protruding branch or flower and will investigate anything that ventures through his territory (in the afternoon only after the sun has reached it’s highest point) at other times they behave in a similar manner. The females tend to spend most of the day fluttering around looking for nettles to lay eggs on and tasting likely plants, and in the afternoons head for hilltops or prominent places, if not already paired, to attract attention from males. There is no hard and fast rule but this is how most Vanessa species behave. In the UK in the spring if I want to separate male Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell in the wild I just throw a piece of flattened soil or another dark round object above the butterfly. A male will fly toward it/follow it, and a female ignore it. This works the same with Red Admiral and Painted lady although they do not appear in my area some years until summertime.

    #49045

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Hi Terry

    You are doing a great job over there. You certainly get full marks for persistence!

    My stinging nettles here are very lush and I have had several sightings of a lone yellow admiral flying around the garden. Would this be more likely to be a male, do you think, ready to seize a female, or a female come to lay?

    I haven’t seen any sign of eggs on the nettle.

    The weather has been a shocker. We’ve had 3 or 4 “nice” spring days but then fronts keep coming across the Tasman Sea bringing wet, cold, wet, cold and wet and on occasion very windy weather. It’s a pain. I have got my first monarchs emerging after about six weeks of waiting – maybe two weeks longer than typical.

    Jacqui

    #49044

    Terry
    Participant

    Following the success of the last batch producing approx 200 butterflies I have repeated my experiment with the next batch but with less success. I have many pupae formed, but not counted yet, but the last of the batch are going down with wilt. In a few days time when the last of the larvae have either died or pupated I will be able to do a count. Many pupae are still forming or too soft to interfere with yet, so patience is the game for the time being.
    I have had many pairings from the previous 200 Butterflies and have collected eggs ready for sterilisation and to get the next generation moving forward.

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