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TRANSACTIONS BARBERRY CARPET MOTH C . W . PLERCE

DĂœRING the last Century the Wild Barberry (Berberis vulgata) was uprooted when it was discovered that wheat rust was more severe where the plant was plentiful. T h e Barberry Carpet moth (Pareulype berberata Schiff.) which fed exclusively on this plant, became very rare throughout Britain, its only known habitat in Suffolk being in the Bury St. Edmunds area. South states that the species seems to be confined mainly to the Eastern Counties although it has been noted in a few other places. When it became known that the site near Bury St. Edmunds was under threat of development, the Nature Conservancy obtained the agreement of the Forestry Commission to plant a hedge of the wild barberry in one of their plantations, so that the species could be transferred to a place where it had some chance of survival. Although the moth was found quite easily in 1964 and 1965, it did not appear in subsequent years when the writer visited the site to obtain some of the moths with a view to establishing a breeding colony for later release. It was not until 14th August of this year, when looking for the moth with Peter Wright of the Nature Conservancy, that one solitary moth, fortunately a female already impregnated, was taken. There is no reason forsupposing the moth to be less plentiful than in those earlier years. It seems to be found more readily during a day-time visit following a warm, humid, moonless night. The captured moth laid about ten eggs per day up tili 25th August and the occasional one up tili her death on 2nd September. During this time she was kept alive by giving her a päd of cotton wool soaked in a sugary Solution. T h e eggs were laid singly or in twos, generally on the underside of the leaves. Hatching started on 24th August and continued until 4th September. T h e larvae were no more than 1J mm. in length, and did not appear to eat much of the eggshell. Mortality was high in the early stages, at least 80% not lasting more than two days.


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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 15, Part 4

A further visit to the site was paid on 3Ist August, but no moths were put up. Obviously it was too late as five nearly fĂźll grown larvae were beaten from the hedge. Two of these pupated on 5th September and two more on the 7th, but unfortunately the fifth died. In the meantime, those hatched from the eggs laid by the captured female were growing quite well, but only eleven remained. For reasons of hygiene, they were put into three Containers, four each in two and three in the third. By 21st September six more had pupated but three more had died. The remainder pupated before mid-October. There are twelve pupae awaiting emergence and possible release in the new habitat in 1971, but obviously this number is not sufficient to establish and maintain a healthy and viable population. More moths must be taken next year (and next year will probably be the last year when it will be possible to do this) in order to build up a really strong colony. Some help will be needed from other entomologists, preferably some living in the Bury area. If there are such willing helpers, will they please get in touch with the writer before the emergence of the first brood in May, 1971? C. W. Pierce, 14 Chalkeith Road, Needham Market,

Suffolk.

Barberry Carpet Moth  
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