Here are those very eggs, above, and below are some of the plump and healthy caterpillars which hatched from them. They all pupated later that summer and the following Spring, five hatched here and a number of others in the homes or gardens of fellow-ethusiasts to whom I had given them. I thought that my remaining five cocoons were dead but luckily Dave Wilton, the mastermind of the illustrious and invaluable Upper Thames Moths blog, counselled me to be patient. Emperors have been known to stay in their cocoons for four years, he said.
Sure enough, another moth hatched last year and I hunkered down to see what happened this time round. Actually, to tell the whole truth, I then forgot about the little, lidless box in my shed, but luckily Dave mentioned hatching an Emperor a week or so back on the UTM blog. I brought the box inside and last night, whoopee, this year's moth emerged.
I have temporarily put her, perfectly docile and uncomplaining, in a muslin bag suspended from an apple tree in the hope that she will release the pheromones which can bring lusty males from distances of up to a mile. Emperors have peculiar lives, very different from those of their human namesakes. The adult does not feed and lives only to breed and then die; a poor reward, it seems to me, for such a long period of preparation. Still, they seemed to enjoy life as caterpillars and pupating is presumably just like a very, very long sleep after all the effort of munching bramble and hawthorn.