THE SCARCE BLACK ARCHES ( C E L A M A TUBERCULANA, BOSC) IN SUFFOLK WITH NOTES ON ITS GENERAL OCCURRENCE IN THE BRITISH ISLES BARON DE W O R M S
THE capture in mid-July, 1964 at Thorpeness by Mr. Michael Chalmers Hunt and Mr. S. Wakely of no less than five examples of the little Nolid moth, the Scarce Black Arches (also formerly known as Celama centonalis, HĂźbn.) is indeed one of the most noteworthy events in the annals of entomology in Suffolk. I have therefore considered it of especial interest to trace the occurrence and distribution of this rare little insect since it was first noted as a British species from a specimen taken at Bembridge in the Isle of Wight in 1858. As mentioned elsewhere in this journal, these records are not the first for the County for this species, since a single one was caught in a light-trap at Hemley Rectory near Woodbridge on 21 st July, 1904. Claude Morley in his 1937 Memoir of the Suffolk Lepidoptera says he is unaware of any other records for the Eastern Counties of this very elusive moth. For besides a possible colony in the Isle of Wight its chief home seems to have been in the south-east of England where there appears to have been a flourishing colony in a restricted area of sandhills between Deal and Sandwich. C. G. Barrett (ii.190) refers to the numbers obtained in this locality from 1879 onwards and apparently many series were bred from this original with larvae feeding up on trefoils and clovers, though its natural pabulum is thought to be the sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides). R. F. Bretherton in " Our Lost Butterflies and Moths " (Ent. Gazette 1951 ii.234) makes a comprehensive study of this insect in England with its more recent history. It seems to have disappeared from its haunts near Deal towards the end of the last Century probably about 1892, though there is a doubtful record as late as 1903 from that area. Its occurrence in other parts of the British Isles has been most sporadic, though there are a few old records in the 1880's from Folkestone and also from Langdon Hole near Dover, while there was one at Hastings in 1891. But very little seems to have been heard of this moth in the early part of this Century except with only odd captures at intervals. There was a single example obtained at Eastbourne by the late Robert Adkin on 20th July, 1934. After that nothing more seems to have been heard of the Scarce Black Arches tili Mr. Geoffrey Todd took a single specimen at Wellsnext-Sea on 16th July, 1947. the second record for the Eastern Counties. This was followed by another single capture by Mr. E. H. Wild at Studland Heath, Dorset on 21 st July, 1951. The moth reappeared in some of its former haunts on 22nd July, 1956, when Mr. A. M. Morley found one in his light-trap in the middle of Folkestone, while in the following year Mr. S. Wakely
SCARCE B L A C K
when in Company w i t h the late Canon Edwards secured two on the sandhills at Dungeness on 28th and 29th June, 1957. No others appear to have been noted t i l i the five captures this year which constitute the largest for any one occasion this Century. T h i s small moth would seem to be essentially a denizen of sandhills where it may well be overlooked since it very much resembles a T o r t r i x and even abroad appears to have a very restricted distribution i n Central and Southern Europe as well as Scandinavia, though it does not seem to occur on the northern sandhills of France, but is noted f r o m Belgium. Let us hope it is about to make a " come back " and that we shall be hearing more news of it not only on the Suffolk coast, but from its former habitats in the south-eastern regions of Britain.
N . B . T h e Family of the Nolids comprises a large group of small moths seldom more than an i n c h i n expanse. T h e y are characterised by the presence of tufts of scales, usually three i n number, r u n n i n g i n a line parallel to the costa of the forewings and often k n o w n as " buttons These moths are widespread i n the O l d W o r l d and throughout Africa.