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A REVIEW OF BRITISH MACROLEPIDOPTERA FOR 1956 B y BARON DE WORMS, M . A . , P H . D . , F . L . S . ,

F.R.E.S.

As in 1955, another cold winter, especially in February, prevented any very early emergence of lepidoptera until the second half of March when there was quite a burst of species, chiefly the Noctuid moths which patronise the sallaw bloom. One of the features of early April was the abundance of the Red Admiral (Pyrameis atalanta Linn.). It was seen at this period right up to Scotland, no doubt owing to an early immigration. May was exceptionally fine bringing out with it all the spring butterflies in quite good numbers, though the Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Clossiana euphrosyne Linn.) was not fully on the wing tili nearly the end of that month. However, the hopes that this fine spell of weather raised were rudely upset for the main part of the summer. For the next three months produced one of the most unsettled and wettest seasons this Century. It had its compensations in providing a number of most interesting and unexpected visitors among the lepidoptera as well as a profusion of a good many resident species. Düring early June several examples of the Bedstraw Hawk (Celerio galii Rott) were taken, doubtless having bred through from immigrants in 1955. About this period several new localities were discovered for the Balsam Carpet (Xanthorhoe biriviata Borkh.), thus pointing tö an instance of an insect probably long established over here, but which had been overlooked. In the middle of the month the Alder Kitten (Cerura bicuspis Borkh.) was quite numerous at light in the South and the Midlands. But it was the second half of the year which as before provided the cream of the season. In spite of the wetness of July many species were in unusual quantity, in particular the Silver-studded Blue (Plebeius argus Linn.). In North Wales Ashworth's Rustic (Amathes ashworthii Doubleday) swarmed one night to light in the second week of the month. Towards the end of July the fine insect the Large Footman (Lithosia quadra Linn.) appeared in considerable numbers in many places along the south coast, no doubt due to immigration. A specimen of the Scarce Black-arches (Nola centonalis Hübn.) was taken at this time at Folkestone, only the fourth for the British Isles in fifty years. T h e Larger Fritillaries, especially the High Brown (Argynnis cydippe Linn.) were fairly common in most areas in the South. August once more excelled itself in spite of the very unsettled conditions. T h e Chalk-hill


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Blue (Lysandra coridon Pod.) was in great plenty once more in its many downland haunts. Several fine aberrations were obtained. In the early part of the month a specimen of the Scarce Chocolatetip (Clostera anachoreta Fabr.) was taken on the Suffolk coast, the first authentic specimen for this county. Another rarity obtained at this time were two examples in one night of Dumeril's Rustic (Apamea dumerilii Dup.) recorded from the coast of Sussex. One of the most interesting captures during this prolific month were at least half a dozen specimens of Blair's Mocha (Cosymbia puppillaria HĂźbn.) ranging from Eastbourne to South Devon and even the Scilly Isles whence two old examples had been located many years ago. Another remarkable record was the taking on one day in the Isle of Wight of yet another Three Humped Prominent (Notodonta phoebe Sieb.) and an American Painted Lady (Pyrameis huntera Febr.) which has not been Seen in this country for a great many years. It is possible it may have migrated from the Canary Islands where it is quite prevalent. The late summer was noteworthy for the very marked absence of the usual migrant butterflies. Hardly a Painted Lady or Clouded Yellow was reported, while only one or two Camberwell Beauties (Nymphalis antiopa Linn.) were observed. The Large Tortoise-shell (Nymphalis polychloros Linn.) seemed unusually scarce. It was towards the end of August that there began the amazing migration of the Death's Head Hawk-moth (Acherontia atropos Linn.). This appeared to reach its climax in early September. On the 2nd of that month no less than twenty-eight of this fine insect were recorded at light on the Norfolk coast. About this date a large number was found clinging to the rigging of a ship in the North Sea. From reports from abroad and especially from Central Europe it would seem that the migration wave came up from Italy through Central Germany and then fanned out over Northern Europe, since unusual numbers were noted in Holland, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden. In our country up tili early October well over 300 were noted ranging to Ireland and right up to the most northerly parts of Scotland. There was also apparently accompanying this invasion quite a number of the Convolvulus Hawk (Herse convolvuli Linn.), also reported from most parts of southern England, the Eastern Counties and some of the northern ones. At least three examples of the rare Silverstriped Hawk (Hippotion celerio Linn.) were recorded, two from Devon in September and one from the Isle of Man in November. The Giant Ear (Hydraecia hucherardi Mabeille) was again bred plentifully from larvae dug from the roots of the Marsh Mallow, while the insect seemed even more numerous than in the previous seasons during September. The Olive-tree Pearl (Margerortia unionalis HĂźbn.) was once more taken in fair numbers, mainly on the south coast at this period. This month also produced a


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great rarity from the Scilly Islands, in a specimen of the Slender Burnished Brass (Plusia aurifera Hübn.) of which only two other authentic examples have been recorded this Century in the British Isles. The autumn months brought several surprises. Not only were a good many of the Scarce Bordered Straw (Heliothis armigera Hübn.) noted, but by far the most interesting event was the remarkable abundance locally of Blair's Pinion (Graptolitha lapidea Hübn.). In the Isle of Wight this insect, of which there had only been a handful taken since its discovery in 1951, suddenly appeared in quantity both at light and at sugar in mid-October, while an increased number were also recorded from the coast of Sussex. This phenomenon definitely gave indication that the species was breeding now over here, probably on different kinds of cypress. A most interesting Observation was that, unlike its near relatives, this insect does not hibernate, but lays its eggs in the late autumn. Most of the usual autumn moths were fairly numerous in the later months of the year, but the Vanessid butterflies were distinctly scarce. Very few Commas (Polygonia c-album Linn.) were to be seen. One of the final rarities of the year was a specimen of the Yellow-underwinged Pearl (Uresiphita polygonalis Schiff.) which was taken on the Essex Coast. It is almost our scarcest Pyrale. So ended quite a productive and interesting season in spite of the very unpropitious conditions during the summer months.

FURTHER RECORDS OF EMPIDIDAE (DIPTERA, FAMILY XXIII) IN SUFFOLK By C. GARRETT-JONES, M.SC., F . R . E . S .

In 1951 Claude Morley compiled a list of 142 flies of this family known to occur in Suffolk (see Trans. S.N.S. Vol. VII p. 108). It seems that he overlooked a paper of mine in the Ent. Mon. Mag. (1950) Vol. LXXXVI p. 260, which recorded seventeen species of the genus Hilara, all found Aying at Fiatford in the first fortnight of July, 1946. Nine of these are not included in Morley's list. In the notes that follow, a few records of Empididae from Iken (R. Aide) are included also, making a total addition of 12 species to the previous county list. Clearly, many more species of this large family await collection, for example by anyone visiting Fiatford for the purpose at another season. The species now added to the list are marked with an asterisk.

British Macrolepidoptera, 1956  
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