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COLLECTING IN 1958 by

ALASDAIR A S T O N , B . A . ,

F.R.E.S.

S N O W was still on the ground at the beginning of March but I was able to show two sceptical ornithologists a male March M o t h (.Alsophila aescularia Schiff), at rest on an oak trunk at Oxted, Surrey, on March 2nd. On April 22nd, the Brimstone, (Gonepteryx rhamni, L.) was Aying between Bury St. E d m u n d s and Stowmarket, prompting me to search the next day for the Large Tortoiseshell, (Nymphalis polychloros, L.). I saw none, however, and the insect seems to have disappeared from its former haunts. In 1942, I saw a dozen in a week at Onehouse but I have not seen polychloros since 3.X. 1951, at Belstead. Hibernated Peacocks, (Nymphalis ia, L.), Small Tortoiseshells, (Aglais urticae, L.) and a Comma, (Polygonia c-album L.) were Aying in Northfield Wood, Onehouse, on April 23rd. T h e Humble-Bee Fly, (Botnbylius major), was Aying in beautiful weather, with the cuckoo calling and with cowslips, sallow, five-Angers and windAowers well in evidence.

Back in London, the Small Garden White, (Pieris rapae, L.), was Aying in Brockwell Park on April 29th. T h e Orange Tip, (Euchloe cardamines, L., the Brimstone, and the Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria L.), were Aying at Box Hill on April 29th, with the Grizzled Skipper, (Pyrgus malvae, L.), there on May 4th. On May 7th, Plutella maculipennis, Curt., the Grey Diamond-backed Smudge, first put in an appearance at Dulwich light. T h i s small micro is a migrant and has been most frequent all " summer " . A frequent m o t h to be found here at rest on privet after dark is the Scalloped Hazel, (Gonodontis bidentata, Clerck.). It first appeared on May 7th and from 38 specimens noted only two, one of each sex, were of a melanic variety more unicolorous than that figured from the mosses of Lancashire by South. T h e Scalloped Hazel lasted tili 29th May, when I saw the last. One female laid 363 eggs which were green at first and then turned coppery. T h e larvae began to emerge on June 4th. On May 1 Ith, in Dulwich Woods, the Large White, (Pieris brassicae), and a micro, Incurvaria musculatella, Fabr., flew freely. Bluebells were noted and the fairy micro, Adela viridella, Scop. At Box Hill on May 1 Ith, were noted two S w a m m e r d a m m ' s Long-horns (Nemophora swammerdammella, L.), and a Grey Birch on an oak trunk. A species new to my Dulwich list is the Grey Pug, (Eupithecia castigata, HĂźbn.), which came to light on 18-19th May. In Suffolk the Orange T i p was still out on May 23rd, for a male was found at rest after dark in Onehouse Wood, where were also larvae of the Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperanthus, L.) and of the Smoky


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Wainscot (Leucania impura, Hübn), feeding after dark on grass. The nightingale sang that night and I conversed with him by whistling for half an hour. When I became too adept at imitating his tunes, he would descend to the lower churring ranges. A specimen of the Small Engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia, Hübn.) came to light. On May 27th, I went to Bentley Woods and on the way noticed cardamines, rapae, the Wall (Pararge megera, L.) and the Greenveined White (Pieris napi, L.). In brilliant noon sunshine it was pleasing to see a flight of fine Large Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Argynnis euphrosyne, L.). They fluttered near the ground in dozens, attending the flowers of bügle. Meanwhile the Mother Shipton (Euclidimera mi, Clerck, L.) careered up and down the glades and the Speckled Yellow (Pseudopanthera macularia, L.), drifted everywhere like lemon snow. The Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus, L.) was freshly emerged and on the borders of the wood I took the Dingy Skipper, (Erynnis tages, L.) On a tree-trunk I was delighted to find a female Pale Oak Beauty, Boarmia punctinalis, Scop., (consortaria Fab.), which our members have found at Needham and Bentley in the last dozen years, but before that one had to go back about 80 years for a record. It was a splendid day in Bentley Woods which have lately been " tidied " to give the oaks room. An extremely sinister sight, however, was of rows and rows of recently planted conifers between the oaks. It seems that Suffolk can say farewell to many of her most prized inhabitants, for a coniferous wood will not support the undergrowth necessary to them. I have recently heard, via the " bush telegraph," that Onehouse Wood has been acquired by the Forestry Commission. One hopes that it will be allowed to recover its old aspect. On the evening of May 27th, a specimen of Eupithecia tantillaria, Boisd. (pusillata, Fab.), the Dwarf Pug came to light at Stowmarkert. It is a very local species and feeds on spruce. At Drinkstone on May 28th, were Aying clathrata, jacobaeae, and the Common Blue, (polyommatus icarus, Rott.). Also beaten out were the Yellow Belle (Aspitates ochrearia, Ross.) and the Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi, L.). At the beginning of June, I read the New Naturalist Series volume on Insect Migration by C. B. Williams. Dr. Williams mentions the interesting fact that two specimens of 212, the Delicate (Leucania vitellina, Hübn), were observed before 1940 on the Outer Gabbard light vessel, situated 20 miles E.S.E. of Orfordness in Suffolk. The first specimens of our Dulwich speciality, Blastobasis decolorella or Wakely's Dowd, appeared on June 8th. To light at Dulwich on June 13th, came the Large Clouded Brindle (Apamea hepatica, Hübn.), and the Lychnis Coronet (Hadena


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141

bicruris, Hufn), both new to Dulwich in my experience. The Small Copper, (Lycaena phlaeas. L.), was Aying freely over a disused railway-line at Dulwich on 14.VI.1958. The only Waved Umber (Hemerophila abruptaria, Thunb.), that came to light this year was a dusky sooty-brown specimen of the male on June 16th ; the type is a much more attractive insect. A specimen of the Silver Eight (Polychrisia moneta, Fabr.), emerged on June 17th ; I found the larva on delphinium on May lOth, and it pupated on May 26th. The Eyed Hawk (Smerinthus ocellata, L.), came to Dulwich light on June 18th. On June 24th, I had two hours in bright sunshine collecting along the Fair Mile, an old Roman road near Cholesey on the Berkshire Downs. It was thefirsttime that I had seen the Marbled-white (Melanargia galathea, L.), Aying. They were in mint condition as were the males of the Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina, L.). Fresh males and females of Ochlodes venata, Br. and Grey, the Large Skipper, were in evidence. The Five-spot Burnet (Zygaena trifolii, Esp.), was Aying freely and mating. I took a specimen of variety glycirrhizae, Hübn., (spots 3, 4 and 5 united) just like the Illustration in South and missed a perfect ab. minoides, Selys, in which all the spots are united in an irregulär patch. I also took a Burnet Companion (Ectypa glyphica, L.). Düring June, Mr. Terence Dillon visited the Suffolk Breck and found the Breckland Grey (Lithostege griseata, Schiff.) at Brandon on June 15th. At Mildenhall on June 17th, he took the White Colon (Heliophobus albicolon, Hübn.), and the Bordered Gothic {Heliophobus saponariae, Esp.). He also took one Clouded Magpie (Abraxas sylvata, Scop.), at Mildenhall. On June 28th, Mr. Chipperfield and I were pleased to find the Spotted Sulphur (Emmelia trabealis, Scop.) and the Viper's Bugloss, (Anepia irregularis, Hufn.), in their characteristic but diminishing haunts. We also saw two Oblique Striped (Mesotype virgata, Rott.). June 30th was a most favourable night for lepidoptera, 75 species Coming to light at 37 Chilton Avenue, Stowmarket. The best species was the Obscure Wainscot (Leucania obsoleta, Hübn.), which arrived just before midnight. A specimen of the Southern Wainscot (Leucania straminea, Treits.), arrived on the same evening as did the Scorched Wing (Plagodis dolabraria, L.) and (Stauropus, fagi., L.,) the Lobster. I have also taken fagi at Onehouse Wood on 2.VII.1951 and four examples on 7.VII.1951. On August 1 Ith, Cilix glaucata, Scop., added itself to the Dulwich list. Düring August one or two odd insects came to light. The Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua, L.) presented itself on August 1 Ith


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and September 4th, and a Red Admiralflewto M.V. on 19th September. Several Eremobia ochroleuca, Esp.,flewto S light during the last half of August, but not so many as in the 19 One evening, about 1946, I saw many dozens Aying before dus to knapweed beside Stow Lodge.

Strange to relate a damaged specimen of the Crescent Striped (.Apamea ob longa, Haw.),flewto light at Stowmarket o August. It was far off-beat and I cannot explain this to my satisfaction. A somewhat similar unlikely occurrence was that of the True Lovers' Knot (Lycophotia varia, Vill.), a heather feeder whichflewto Stowmarket house lights on August 4th, 1954. One could also cite the Hedge Rustic (Tholera cespitis Fab.), whichflewto Stowmarket light on 16.VIII. 1950. Such are anomalies. On August 22nd, I took a moth at Stowmarket which I suspe to be Hydraecia paludis, Tutt., a species which I think w discovered in Suffolk until Mr. Austin Richardson found it at Southwold in 1954. I make no claims for my specimen yet, however, as I gather that, even if the moth looks like paludis, th genitalia are the only guide. On August 17th, at Felixstowe I noted the Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui, L.), and Nomop noctuella, Schiff., both migrants. On August 23rd, Messrs. Chipperfleld and Aston further enhanced^ their police record by being discovered " mothpoaching ", in the act of. We also met some campers with a vast supply of folk-songs and ale. All this made Staverton interesting, but it was small wonder that Stilbia anomala, H waited tili things had calmed down before sidling into the car windscreen at 2.15 a.m. This was the 4th Suffolk specimen and Atting culmination to an epic evening, but the heath moths were few, despitefineheather. Our second joint pilgrimage to Staverton or Tangham was not so successful on August 30th. Sugar was well patronised, but the " quality " was absent. The same could not be said about the following Saturday, September 6th, when Mrs. Chipperfleld and my wife were in attendance at Staverton. As one would expect the moths sensed the occasion and put in better appearances as many as 99 being counted on one round of the sugar. We were glad to note that Leucania albipuncta, Fab., still turn sugar and light, as it has done fairly often in the last dozen yea Other species included Amathes agathina, Dup., Amathe Dup. and Tholera cespitis, Fab. Foursomes is a form of lecting that can be warmly recommended.

On August 27th, at Stowmarket a specimen came to light of the Stout Dart, (Spaelotis ravida, HĂźbn.). Mr. Wilfrid George


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and I found very little at sugar or marram on Thorpe beach on 28th August, but we found the Sea-pea which we searched in vain for, Phycita boisduvaliella. He showed me his moths and I was pleased to notice a specimen of the Kent Black-arches (Nola albula, H체bn.), caught at Aldeburgh on August 7th, 1956. This seems to be an extension South of its r채nge with us which seems to be Easton Broad, Reydon, Walberswick, Knodishall and now Aldeburgh. The Sand Wasp, Ammophila sabulosa, was seen at work in bright sunshine on August 30th beside Drinkstone Mill. In the afternoon of September 2nd on Thetford Heath were seen freshly emerged September Thorn (Deuteronomos erosaria, Borkh, Haw.,) the Syrphid fly (Chrysotoxum festivum, L.), and a beetle predatory on snails (iCychrus rostatus, L.). I had found pairs of another beetle, Ophonus acureus, Fab., in heads of Daucus carota at Felixstowe, on August 17th. Usually carnivorous, this beetle will occasionally eat seeds and can be kept alive for a month on such food. The Centre-Barred Sallow (Atethmia xerampelina, H체bn.), not a very frequent moth here, came to light at Stowmarket on September 2nd/3rd. An aberration of the Setacious Hebrew Character (Amathes c-nigrum L.) flew to Stowmarket light on September 3rd. The black " character ", between and below the orbicular and reniform Stigma, is on the left wing divided into two black dots and the intervening Space is ochreous fading into the general colour of the wing. It is perhaps, worth mentioning that John Renouf and I took two specimens of the Triple-spotted Clay (Amathes ditrapezium, Bork.) at lights in Onehouse Wood on 31st July, 1954. The Purple Thorn (Selenia tetralunaria, H체bn.), form aestivaria, and the Lesser-spotted Pinion (Cosmia affinis, L.), came to light at Stowmarket on 19th August. A surprise specimen of the Brown-veined Wainscot (Nonagria dissoluta, Treits.), visited the kitchen at Stowmarket on September 7th, reinforcing a maternal axiom : " The best moths occur at home ". On September 14th, at Bookham, Surrey, I saw for the first time, the Little Earwig, (Labia minor, L.) in flight. Naturalists have yet to observe the Common Earwig (Forficula auricularia, L.) in flight. In a wet but interesting season my expectation of good migrants did not become justified.


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MICRO

"NEW"

TO

SUFFOLK

When our Society's 1937 Lepidoptera Memoir was compiled species No. 952 Eucosma pflugiana, Haw. was considered to be the same as Eucosma cirsiana, Zell., which is added in brackets as a synonym. Stainton, however, in 1859 seemed to suppose these two distinct species, but Meyrick, by 1895, had lumped them together as a sole species. Heslop in his 1947 List of the British Lepidoptera gives them as separate. He dubs Eucosma pflugiana, Haw. (scutulana, Wilk.), the Larger Blotch-Marked Bell whereas Eucosma cirsiana, Zell, becomes the Smaller Blotch-Marked Bell. M r . Wakely teils me that the two species are quite distinct but that the females are not so easy to determine as the males. I possess specimens of both species caught at Stowmarket during August, 1948. Although doubtless specimens in collections have from time to time been mixed, it is possible, by reference to food-plants, to decide which species our Memoir was alluding to when it said that the moth was frequent among thistles. Mr. L. T . Ford in his " Guide to the smaller British Lepidoptera " gives pflugiana as feeding in the stems of Carduus, whereas cirsiana feeds on Centaurea. Our new species is therefore Eucosma cirsiana, Zell. ( E U C O S M I D A E ) , the Smaller Blotch-Marked Bell, which should be inserted at page 154 of the Memoir as species 952A, a small black and white tortrix.

OLD

SUFFOLK NOVELTIES,

1859 - 1959.

It is just a Century since H. T . Stainton published his famous Manual of British Butterflies and Moths, a copy of which has lately come into my hands. It makes very good reading, for it includes three moths not previously recorded from Suffolk in our Transaction or Memoirs :— 138A. Amathes depuncta, Linn. T H E P L A I N C L A Y . This species is mentioned at p. 233 of vol. one as being known from Stowmarket. It seems an unlikely record, but Stainton's figure of the species seems correct. On the other hand it is well-known that Stainton had his information not from specimens but from correspondents such as Bree and Crewe. Its ränge in Richard South seems rather western and northern for u s ; Meyrick excludes it from S.E. England. T h e 1937 Memoir thought it might occur in Suffolk.


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234A. Hadena

bombycina, H u f n . (glauca, HĂźbn.), THE Stainton records this on p. 275 of volume one from Stowmarket. T h e species has been caught in Norfolk, but South shows its main distribution to be in North Britain. T h e 1937 Memoir says that we cannot hope for this species. GLAUCOUS

SHEARS.

1499A. Micropteryx mansuetella, Zell. T H E SINGLE-SPOTTED GOLD. Of the six species in the genus Micropteryx, five have heads that are ferruginous, leaving mansuetella the only one with a black head. Perhaps, then, Stainton is right when he records this species from Stowmarket on p. 303 in volume two. Stainton emphasises that the head is deep bluish black ; Meyrick retails the same information and Mr. Wakely teils me that this is still a good determining characteristic. Meyrick gives the moth as local in England, whilst Mr. L. T. Ford states that the imago can be found in May and June feeding on pollen of Carex species in swampy places. It is not difficult to recall likely spots along the Gipping and its tributaries. A moth of 9 m.m. wingspan can be missed !

After a Century the landscape has changed to such an extent that a personal opinion on the above records must remain a personal opinion. T h e facts tend to be elusive. It seems likely that M r . Morley did not include these insects in the Lepidoptera Memoir because he did not notice their mention. I think this, because in his preface to the Memoir he claims to l?e inclined to credulity and this proved to be so fairly often in the Memoir. He moreover quotes Stainton on various other species. It is possible he missed the above three because they are not Geometers : Stainton in his preface announces that he intends to use the abbreviation St. for Stowmarket only in respect of Geometers. What is not at once apparent is that he refers to Stowmarket, and in fĂźll, elsewhere. A . ASTON.

Collecting in 1958  
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