THE WHITE-SPECK WAINSCOT ( L E U C A N I A UNIPUNCTA HAWORTH) IN SUFFOLK WITH NOTES ON ITS RANGE AND OCCURRENCE IN THE BRITISH ISLES BARON DE W O R M S
THE capture on October 29th, 1969, of a specimen of this wellknown migrant noctuid moth at Great Bealings near Woodbridge, by Mr. William Storey, is indeed a notable event in the annals of lepidoptera records for our County, though it is not the first example of this species to be noted for Suffolk. That eminent authority C. G. Barrett, writing in 1899, mentions in his vast work (v:162) only nine British records up to that date including one taken at Leiston in 1878 by the Hon. Mrs. Carpenter. This specimen is reported in the 1937 Memoir by Claud Morley, but I am not aware of any other occurrence of this insect in the County until last year. The White-Speck Wainscot has had a very unusual history in these Islands since the first one was recorded in 1803 by Haworth and named by him Leucania unipuncta. DĂźring the first quarter of the present Century less than a dozen seem to have been noted, but in 1928 there was apparently a huge immigration to southern Ireland where at Ummera in Co. Cork some sixty were seen that autumn, right up to December, mostly at ivy bloom. Since that date the species seems to have become increasingly numerous, especially since the last War, but only in the south-western counties does it appear to have established itself. In this region it is now observed annually, sometimes in fair numbers and there is reason to think it may be breeding there at times. It lays freely in captivity and has been bred on a big scale during the last decade. But it still seems to confine itself mainly to our western seaboard and Ireland, and its occurrence in the eastern part of England is most unusual. It is even quite a rarity in Kent. In 1969 it was recorded as far north as the Inner Hebrides which bears witness to its migrant propensities. There is reason to believe that most of the immigrants to this country originate from Spain and Madeira where this species is widespread. At one time it was considered to be of world-wide rĂ¤nge being conspecific with the great destructive 'Army Worm' of North America. But in recent years research has shown this complex to be made up of at least six species of similar appearance, each ranging over a particular part of the earth with separate species in North and South America, Australia and the Far East. Leucania unipuncta seems to be confined to Southern Europe and North Africa, migrating thence northwards regularly.