A REVIEW OF BRITISH LEPIDOPTERA FOR 1957 by
BARON DE W O R M S , M . A . ,
THE chief feature of the first three months of 1957, was the remarkably mild sequence of weather with virtually no cold snaps. This had the effect of bringing out many species abnormally early, sometimes a month ahead of their usual time of appearance. It was in fact one of the most precocious seasons of the Century. The Yellow Horned (Achlya flavicornis Linn.) was out by the middle of February as also were many of the Orthosias, including the Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta Hufn.), the Hebrew Character (O. gothica Linn.) and the Common Quaker (O. stabilis View.). The sallow bloom was also proportionately early and for the most part was over by the middle of March. An unexpected immigrant at this period was the Bordered Straw (Heliothis peltigera Schiff.), a number of which were taken in the South. The sloe blossom was out by the third week in March together with the Sloe Carpet (Bapta distinctata H.-S.). The Barred Tooth-striped (Nothopteryx polycommata HĂźbn.) and the Mottled Carpet (Colostygia miiltistrigaria Haworth) were likewise on the wing at this date. But most remarkable was the appearance of some of the Prominents and allied species. The Frosted Green (Polyploca ridens Fabr.) was noted during the last days of March, while the 3 Ist saw the capture in the South of the Scarce Prominent (Odontosia carmelita Esp.), the Nut-tree Tussock (Calocasia coryli Linn.) together with the Purple Thorn (Selenia tetralunaria Hufn.). Nearly all the other spring Prominents followed within a week, including the Large Prominent (Notodonta anceps Goeze) and the Puss (Cerura vinula Linn.). The fine weather continued throughout most of April and similar conditions even prevailed in the Western Highlands where the last week of April saw the emergence of the Green-veined White (Pieris napi Linn.), the Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi Linn.), the Emperor (Saturnia pavonia Linn.) and the Marbled Coronet (Hadena conspersa Esp.). Unfortunately the hope of a very prolific season was dashed when May turned out a most fickle and bleak month, putting everything back and producing many species in much smaller numbers than usual. This especially applied to the Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Argynnis euphrosyne Linn.) and the Small Pearl-bordered (A. selene Schiff.). June was likewise for the most part very moist and unpropitious. Both the Alder Moth (Apatele alni Linn.) and the Alder Kitten (Cerura bicuspis Borkh.) were unusually scarce, though the capture of a specimen of the latter species in Suffolk was a most notable
A REVIEW OF BRITISH
event. Equally remarkable was the taking towards the end of the month of an example of the Concolorous (Arenostola extrema Hübn.) at Eastbourne. This would seem to be the first time this species has been obtained outside its very restricted haunts in the Fens, though there have been a few doubtful records of it in other parts of the southern counties. T h e only real touch of summer in this most unpromising season came at the beginning of July. Düring a brief visit I made to Cornwall, butterflies were really abundant. The Large Blue (Maculinea arion Linn.) was quite plentiful in the coastal Coombs together with large numbers of the bigger Fritillaries, especially the Dark-brown (Argynnis cydippe Linn.), the Marbled White (Melanargia galatea Linn.) and the Grayling (Eumenis semele Linn.). The Crescent Dart (Agrotis lunigera Steph.) was also very numerous in this region at this period. Both the White Admiral (Limenitis Camilla Linn.) and the Purple Emperor (Apatura iris Linn.) were much less in evidence than in previous seasons. But a species which was apparently much more abundant than usual was the Maple Prominent (Lophopteryx cucullina Schiff.). It turned up in several areas whence it had not been recorded before. At the end of the month another notable capture near Dungeness was two examples of the scarce Black Arches (Celama centonalis Hübn.). It seems possible that this tiny moth may be once more recolonising our shores. In spite of poor weather at the Start of August most of the downland localities in the south produced a good crop of the Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra coridon Pod.), though extreme varieties were not very forthcoming. A good many of the Large Footman (Lithosia quadra Linn.) appeared, especially in the south-west at this period and even in the Scilly Isles which received several visits from collectors during the year. Blair's Mocha (Cosymbia puppillaria Hübn.) was found to be breeding there, but the chief feature in the late summer was the comparative abundance of the Whitespeck Wainscot (Leucania unipuncta Haworth) both in this locality and on the mainland, in particular the south coast of Cornwall. Large numbers of this normally scarce species were bred subsequently from the earlier captures. A few of the Ni Moth (Plusia ni Hübn.) were also taken in early September in this area. It was at this season that the Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus Fourcr.) was seen in the south-western regions in some plenty, whereas hardly any were noted elsewhere. Migrants were generally very scarce in the early autumn. T h e autumn as a whole proved distinctly unproductive, though the Brindled Ochre (Dasypolia templi Thunb.) was very numerous, especially in the Isle of Wight. This was also again the case with
A REVIEW OF BRITISH LEPIDOPTERA
Blair's Pinion (Lithophane lapidea HĂźbn.) which once more appeared in quantity on the Sussex coast, in the Isle of Wight and even on the coast of Hampshire. So ended a season which started off with a great eclat and much promise, but which eventually turned out to be one of the leanest years for this Century for Lepidoptera in Great Britain.
A NEW SUFFOLK MOTH Pammene aurantiana, Staudinger, b y ALASDAIR ASTON
ON the afternoon of August lOth, 1951, I was Walking along the road from Stowmarket to Onehouse when my attention was seized by a small but very attractive moth which I did not recognise. It appeared to be a tortrix with golden forewings and dark contrasting hindwings and had been disturbed from the herbage at the side of the road which is rieh in umbels, knapweed, scabious and a tangle of too many other delights for me to claim any particular association of plant and moth. I did, however, set the insect and put it away, another metallic scrap, in my box of micro-lepidoptera, where it remained tili December, 1957. It now appears that the creature is Suffolk's 1542nd. species of Lepidoptera and is NEW to Suffolk. Moreover, until further records are published, it does seem possible that this was only the second occurrence in Britain. (viele Ent. Gaz. 9 : 60). The speeimen was determined for me by Mr. S. Wakely and it was subsequently verified by Mr. S. N. A. Jacobs as Pammene aurantiana, Staudinger, (EUCOSMIDAE) first announced as British by Mr. Wakely himself in the Entomologists' Record for October, 1957. Not many speeimens of P. aurantiana seem to have been located in England and with one in the Isles of Scilly. As far as I can discover :â€” Two speeimens were determined by Mr. J. D. Bradley of the British Museum among some insects sent to him by Mr. B. O. C. Gardiner of Cambridge. Both moths were taken at Dover on l l t h July, 1943.