THE ALDER KITTEN, THE SPECKLED FOOTMAN, AND OTHER LEPIDOPTERA IN SUFFOLK DĂœRING 1973 B A R O N DE W O R M S
THE wonderful summer of 1973 has indeed favoured Suffolk not only for warmth and sunshine from the end of May tili the middle of September with a short break at the end of July, but also with a wealth of lepidoptera, with some of them of very especial note. Among the more fortunate collectors was Mr. Alfred Waller who had just returned from being overseas for several years. He revisited his family home at Waldringfield where his grandfather, Canon Waller, had collected over a great number of years and had obtained some most remarkable insects. Mr. Waller chose the latter ten days of June and also early July to run his mercuryvapour trap at this most propitious locality and time of year with most spectacular results. One of the most interesting species he obtained at light was the very local Alder Kitten (Harpyia bicuspis Borkh.) which his grandfather had taken occasionally at Waldringfield. But in this marvellous warm spell Mr. Waller saw no less than fourteen at his light, the first appearing on 25th June. This must have been a most prolific night since another visitor was the foreign form of the Speckled Footman (Coscinia cribraria Linn.) with white forewings of the form arenaria Lempke. This rare migrant was last taken in Suffolk by Mr. Austin Richardson on 5th August, 1965, while collecting near Walberswick. Apart from these two specimens only some five others have been recorded in Great Britain of this Continental race. Yet another spectacular capture on 21st June was a Convolvulus Hawk (Herse convolyuli Linn.) which was the forerunner of a big immigration of this fine species during September, mainly in south-west England. Other insects of special interest noted by Mr. Waller at the end of June were the Maple Prominent (Lophopteryx cucullina Schiff.), always a somewhat uncommon moth. A fairly recent newcomer to Suffolk was the Varied Coronet (Hadena compta Schiff.), while 28th June was an early date for the Archer's Dart (Agrotis vestigialis Hufn.). Quite a series of the Blotched Emerald (Comibaena pustulata Hufn.) came to the trap with a distinctly pink flush on their wings instead of the usual grass green. Mr. Peter Baker, a visitor from Surrey, Struck a very prolific period right at the end of July and during the first days of August, when he ran a mercury-vapour light-trap in a garden at Dunwich and also collected on the edge of Minsmere with very good results. One of his most interesting captures was the little Kent Black Arches (Nola albula Schiff.) of which very few examples have been noted in Suffolk. He was lucky in seeing almost all the local specialities among the marshland insects. These included
Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part 5
the Powdered Wainscot (Simyra venosa Borkh.), the Silky Wainscot (Chilodes maritima Treits.), the White-mantled Wainscot (Nonagria neurica Hübn.), in plenty with a good many Brownveined Wainscots (N. dissoluta Treits.). Fenn's Wainscot (Arenostola brevilinea Fenn) was fairly numerous as also was the Lyme-grass Wainscot ( A . elymi Treits.). Other coastal species were the Coast Dart (Euxoa cursoria Hufn.), also the Läppet (Gastropacha quercifolia Linn.), the Stout Dart (Spaelotis ravida Schiff.), the Pine Hawk (Hyloicus pinastri Linn.), and the Archer's Dart (Agrotis vestigialis Linn.). Yet other marshland species were the Starwort Shark (Cucullia asteris Schiff.), the Marsh Ear (Hydraecia paludis Tutt), and among the geometers the Rosy Wave (Scopula emutaria Hübn.) and the Lesser Cream Wave (S. immutata Linn.) as well as the Buff Footman (Eilema deplana Esp.). The Five-spot Burnet (Zygaena trifolii Esp.) was a plentiful day-flier. Of the residents in the county Mr. George Baker reported taking a Convolvulus Hawk (Herse convolvuli Linn.) at his home at Reydon, near Southwold, in September, while several Clouded Yellows (Colias croceus Fourc.) were observed in the Felixstowe area this month. Mr. William Storey also reports a good season at his home at Great Bealings near Ipswich. In June he saw the Alder Moth (Apatele alni Linn.), the Satin Moth (Leucoma salicis Linn.), and the Privet Hawk (Sphinx ligustri Linn.). But in July he had a most unusual visitor in the Large Footman (Lithosia quadra Linn.), seldom seen in the Eastern Counties and doubtless an immigrant. In the late summer he again took the Square-spot Clay (Amathes stigmatica Hübn.). The autumn seemed particularly productive with the Stout Dart (Spaelotis ravida Schiff.), the Centre-barred Sallow (Atethmia xerampelina Esp.), the Orange Sallow (Tiliacea citrago Linn.), the Barred Sallow ( T . aurago Schiff.), and the Merveille-du-jour (Griposia aprilina Linn.) always a gern of the autumn. Other late species included the Large Wainscot (Rhizedra lutosa Hübn.), the Grey Shoulder-knot (Lithophane ornithopus Hufn.), the Large Thorn (Ennomos autumnaria Wrb.), the Deep-brown Dart (Aporophyla lutulenta Schiff.), while a most unexpected capture was the Juniper Carpet (Thera juniperata Linn.) possibly imported with a garden type of juniper. But by far the most outstanding insect taken by Mr. Storey in October at his home light-trap was a halved gynandromorph of the Barred Red (Ellopia fasciaria Linn.). This was a small example of the second brood having a slightly different pattern of markings on one side of its forewings from the other. But its most remarkable feature was its pectinated antennae of the male form on the left and the thin thread-like antennae of the female on the right side of its head. These bisexual forms are exceedingly rare in nature
THE ALDER KITTEN AND THE SPECKLED FOOTMAN
and for this species this particular specimen may indeed be unique. Later in November, Mr. Storey had a number of the Sprawler (Brachionycha sphinx Hufn.) at his light, while on the 23rd of that month no less than 120 examples of the December Moth (Poecilocampa populi Linn.) came to his trap, an amazing Visitation of this insect. From Needham Market, Mr. Charles Pierce reports that in June the Coronet (Hadena conspersa Schiff.) was especially common, but that the Varied Coronet (//. compta Schiff.) was scarcer than usual. The Southern Wainscot (Leucania straminea Treits.) was plentiful and there were a few Clouded Brindle (Apamea epomidion Haworth). D端ring July, the Stout Dart (Spaelotis ravida Schiff.) was numerous which is of particular interest, since it is a partial immigrant, but Mr. Pierce only saw two Maple Prominents (Lophopteryx cucullina Schiff.). There was a reappearance of the Scarce Green Silver-lines (Pseudoips bicolorana Fuessl.). There were some interesting records in the autumn, notably of the Butterbur (Gortyna petasitis Doubleday) on 3rd October, always an uncommon insect for Suffolk as also was the Feathered Ranunculus (Eumichtis lichenea H端bn.), essentially a coastal species which is finding its way inland at many stations. Other autumn insects at Needham Market included the Merveilldu-jour (Griposia aprilina Linn.), the Large Ranunculus (Antitype flavicincta Schiff.), the Grey Shoulder Knot (L. ornithopus Hufn.), the Autumnal Rustic (Paradiarsia glareosa Esp.), the Flounced Rustic (Anchoschelis helvola Linn.), and the Mallow (Larentia clavaria Haworth). A noteworthy capture in August was a Square-spot Clay (Amathes stigmatica H端bn.). From Norton, near Bury St. Edmunds, the Rev. Guy Ford reports an interesting series of marsh species in the immediate vicinity of his home and at light in his trap there. Among these were the Flame Wainscot (Meliana flammea Curtis) not found in many localities in the county, only in the extreme west and on the coast at Walberswick. Mr. Ford also took in his home trap the Twin-spotted Wainscot (Nonagria geminipuncta Haworth) and bred out a good series of the Brown-veined Wainscot (N. dissoluta Treits.) from a local reedbed. Another reed species was the Obscure Wainscot (Leucania obsoleta H端bn.) and in the early autumn the Bulrush Wainscot (Nonagria typhae Thunb.). Once more Mr. Richard Barnard has sent in a list of his more interesting observations of visitors to his trap run at Boxted during 1973. Among these was that redoubtable insect the Old Lady (Mormo maura Linn.) which he had not seen before in this locality and for which there is evidence that it is getting more widespread again after several years of scarcity. Other noctuid species seen at his light included the Double Dart (Graphiphora augur Fab.), the Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi View.), the Dusky Sallow
Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 16, Part 5
(Eremobia ochroleuca Schiff.), the Frosted Orange (Gortyna flavago Schiff.), and the autumn species, the Red Underwing (Catocala nupta Linn.) and the Brown-spotted Pinion (Anchoscelis litura Linn.), while the Silver-Y (Plusia gamma Linn.) was abundant by day in the late summer. A most unexpected geometer was the Pretty Chalk Carpet (Melanthis procellata Schiff.) which is normally associated with Travellers Joy on chalk downland. Other members of this family of moths included the Blood Vein (Calothysanis amata Linn.), the Purple Bar (Lyncometra ocellata Linn.), the Barred Straw (Lygris pyraliata Schiff.), and the Early Moth (Theria rupicapraria Schiff.) which can often be found in January. The Magpie (Abraxasgrossulariata Linn.) was extremely plentiful. Among the species from other families were the Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis Fuessly), the Common Footman (Eilema lurideola Zinck.), the Buff Ermine (Spilosoma lutea Hufn.), and the Figure of Eight (Episema caeruleocephala Linn.). Larvae of the Mullein (Cucullia verbasci Linn.) were found feeding on hoary mullein and figwort. My own activities in the county mainly comprised a brief passing visit on lOth August on the way to the Norfolk Broads when I remembered a large patch of Silene otites in the Eriswell district. It was still flourishing after several years, but searching under the plants only yielded a single full-fed larva of the Viper's Bugloss Moth (Anepia irregularis Hufn.), unfortunately stung by parasites. Baron de Worms, M.A., Ph.D., F.L.S., F.R.E.S., M.B.O.U., Three Oaks, Shore's Road, Horsell, Woking, Surrey.