A REVIEW OF BRITISH LEPIDOPTERA FOR B A R O N DE W O R M S ,
THE first two months of 1964 were a great contrast to its predecessor with very mild spells which brought out many of hibernating butterflies in early February, such as the Peacock (Vanessa io, Linn.), the Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae, Linn.), and the Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni, Linn.). However, this precocious start had a big setback in March which was extremely bleak with the result that most of the spring species emerged well behind their normal date. Most of the early butterflies did not appear tili well into May. One which was more abundant than usual was the Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines, Linn.). It was the latter part of May that heralded the arrival of the first Painted Ladies (Pyrameis cardui, Linn.) which were to produce such a big generation later on in the summer. At this period too the Alder Moth (Apatele alni, Linn.) appeared in great abundance in most parts of the country. As many as fifty were recorded in a single night at a mercury vapour light. The end of May also saw some other interest ing captures, notably several of the Flame Wainscot (Meliana flamme a, Curtis) in localities in Southern England, quite far removed from the normal haunts of this fenland species. There can be little doubt that these specimens were part of an immigration. Another most unusual visitor during the last week of this month was a single example of the Pretty Marbled (Lithacodia deceptoria, Scop.), obtained for the first time in western region, in Gloucestershire. Previous ones had all come from the south-eastern area where it had not appeared since 1957. Some very mixed weather ushered in June. The Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Clossiana euphrosyne, Linn.) and the Small Pearlbordered (C. selene, Schiff.) were only at their peak as late as the first weeks of the month. In the middle of the month took place a fine emergence of the Scarce Hook-tip (Drepana harpagula, Esp.) in the Wye Valley together with that of the Pauper Pug (Eupithecia egenaria, H.-S.) which was very plentiful. It was during the last few days of this month that the Olive Crescent (Trisateles emortualis, Schiff.) turned up in some new localities in the Chilterns. July opened with some very unsettled conditions, but by the first few days the Purple Emperor (Apatura iris, Linn.) was already on the wing and steadily built up tili it was relatively quite common in most of its recognised haunts and even turned up in several unexpected ones, including private gardens in Surrey and Hampshire. Some of the larger Fritillaries, such as the Dark Green (Argynnis aglaia, Linn.) were in great profusion about the middle of July. This was the Start of the remarkably fine and
warm spell which virtually continued into the autumn, making thc summer one of the best in recent years. DĂźring this month there were several startling captures among the moths, the most surprising of which was a small green insect which found its way into the moth-trap which was being run regularly in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. It proved to be Earias biplaga, Walker, an inhabitant of Africa where it is a well-known pest on many products such as cocoa. It must have been in some such consignment that its small pupa was brought into England where it had never been noted before. Also at the middle of July Suffolk had a most unexpected Visitation from another small moth, the Scarce Black Arches (Celama centonalis, HĂźbn.). Five examples were taken at Thorpeness, the first for the County since 1904 and for Britain since 1958. Less than a dozen of this little insect had been seen in England this Century, before 1964. T h e last days of July also provided the capture at Dover of the fourth record since 1945 of the Scarce Chocolate T i p (Clostera anaclioreta, Fab.). The other three were in Kent in 1951 and 1953 and in Suffolk in 1956. T h e wonderful weather which still prevailed in August brought the first wave of the Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus, Fourc.) which became reasonably numerous over most of the southern counties during the next two months. The Blues, too, became quite plentiful, especially the Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus, Rott.), while the Chalk-hill (Lysandra coridon, Poda) also had a good season on the downlands, particularly in Surrey and Wiltshire. That indefatigable migrant, the Humming-bird Hawk (Macroglossa stellatarum, Linn.) was to be seen over flowers during the main summer period almost all over Southern England. About the middle of August occurred a most unusual Visitation to the Eastern and South-eastern Counties. T h e Angle-striped Sallow (Enargia paleacea, Esp.), normally a denizen of Scotland and Northern England was taken sporadically in many parts of this area where it had never been seen before, such as Wiltshire and Berkshire as well as in Norfolk and Suffolk. T h e specimens obtained were very different in tint from those usually taken in its normal haunts. This species was apparently accompanied by even larger numbers of the handsome moth, the Great Brocade (Eurois occulta, Linn.) and also by a few of Scarce Silver-Y (Plusia interrogationis, Linn.), both having usual habitats in the northern parts of the British Isles. There can be little doubt that these insects were part of a very big immigration. About this period of August the Red Admiral (Pyrameis atalanta, Linn.) assumed phenomenal proportions when nearly every garden buddleia was the scene of dozens of these butterflies feeding on a single bush. In fact a collector who walked up a secluded V a l l e y on the South Devon coast near the end of this month estimates that in a mile he saw no less than two thousand Red Admirals and almost as manv
94 Transactions of the Suffolk Naturalists',
Vol. 13, Part 6
Painted Ladies disporting themselves on wild-sown buddleias. Larvae from this huge emergence of the Red Admiral were in very big numbers on nettles during September over most of the southern areas of England. They produced another very large autumn brood in October. September was yet another month of glorious weather which saw the arrival of several interesting migrant species. For instance the White Speck Wainscot (Leucania unipuncta, Haworth) was more prevalent than it has ever been along almost the whole Stretch of the Southern English coast, even appearing in Kent, also the Hebrides, where it has never before been recorded. T h e Bordered Straw (Heliothis peltigera, Schiff.) visited a similar area of the south and its larvae were in enormous quantity in several coastal localities. In early September the Convolvulus Hawk (Herse convolvuli, Linn.) invaded the south-west in fair numbers, but not many of the Death's Head (Acherontia atropos, Linn.) were seen. During this month the Pale Clouded Yellow (Colias hyale, Linn.) reappeared after many years, in Kent, while in the West Country the Clouded Yellow (C. croceus, Fourc.) was by now comparatively abundant. At this period, too, there arrived quite a number of the small geometer moth, the Vestal (Rhodometra sacraria, Linn.) which was recorded in most of the Southern Counties where this insect bred and produced further examples in the autumn. As usual some of the rarer migrants turned up mainly in the south. These included the Golden Twin-spot (Plusia chalcites, Esp.) in South Devon and the Splendid Burnished Brass (P. aurifera, H체bn.) in Kerry. There was also a capture of the Cosmopolitan (Leucania loreyi, Linn.) in Cornwall and record of Blair's Mocha (Cosymbia puppillaria, H체bn.) after an interval of several years. In October, Blair's Pinion (Lithophane leautieri, H체bn.) was found to have extended its r채nge westwards from Devon, while that small moth, the Gern (Nycterosea obstipata, Fab.) also appeared in the southern regions. The year ended with a big emergence of the Plumed Prominent (Ptilophora plumigera, Esp.) in November, as many as fifty being seen at light in a single night in Kent and in the Cotswolds.