Page 1

CAMBERWELL BEAUTIES, THE SCARCE CHOCOLATE TIP AND OTHER LEPIDOPTERA IN SUFFOLK DÜRING 1976 BARON DE W O R M S W H E N 1 wrote in my last account of lepidoptera in Suffolk that 1975 was one of the most remarkable years on record for warmth and insects in general, I hardly expected that 1976 would outshine it in every sense, since the heat and profusion of butterflies and moths have made this season in some ways the best since the war and possibly indeed of the Century. It will be remembered above all too for the amazing immigration of the Camberwell Beauty (Nymphalis antiopa Linn.) which seems to have swept across the North Sea from Scandinavia and reached our eastern seaboard soon after the middle of August. My first news of its presence in this country was the receipt of a very exciting account from Mr. Peter Täte, essentially an ornithologist, who was staying at Frostenden. He said he was Walking along the High Street at Southwold on August 21st when a large butterfly flipped over his Shoulder and he was amazed to see its bright yellow border. He had little doubt as to its identity. Mr. George Baker saw one alive shortly afterwards at Reydon, while his granddaughters also saw one at Henham Park. Whether these could have been the same specimen observed by Mr. Täte is problematical and unlikely. I understand this fine insect was also seen at Pakefield and Kessingland. There may be some other records for Suffolk, since the Eastern Counties seem to have had the biggest part of the invasion with over twenty sightings in the sister county of Norfolk. Elsewhere I have mentioned the probable total tally throughout the British Isles of the Camberwell Beauty and referred to its past history in this country, including a similar Visitation in 1872 when the butterfly reappeared the following spring. There may well be a repetition of this phenomenon in 1977.

Another most important record for the county was the capture in a light-trap near Southwold on August 4th, 1976, of a specimen of the Scarce Chocolate-tip (Clostera anachoreta Schiff.). Mr. Julian Clarke teils me he found it hiding in a crevice below a window ledge quite close to the trap. This moth which was taken and bred in some numbers at the end of the last Century has virtually died out in England and there have been only a handful of records in the last sixty years. I have summed up its history in the British Isles in the pages of these Transactions after the late Canon Waller took a specimen at Waldringfield in 1956. I am not aware of another for Suffolk tili the one just recorded and possibly only two or three others, mostly in Kent, in the last twenty years. Perhaps this insect will establish itself again with us. Mr. Clarke mentions that he also saw at Southwold the


CAMBERWELL BEAUTIES I N SUFFOLK

229

Coast Dart (Euxoa cursoria Hüfn.), the Powdered Wainscot (Simyra venosa Borkh.), the Twin-spot Wainscot (Nonagria geminipuncta Haworth), Fenn's Wainscot (Arenostola brevilinea Fenn.), the Lymegrass Wainscot (A. elymi Treits.) and the Starwort Shark (Cucullia asteris Schiff.). He also found some twenty Old Ladies (Mormo maura Linn.) hiding under a bridge. In Dunwich Forest on August 4th he took two specimens of the Marbled Brown (Drymonia dodonaea Schiff.) evidently a second emergence which is of very rare occurrence in this spring species. As mentioned by Mr. Chipperfield the Convolvulus Hawk-moth (Herse convolvuli Linn.) seems to have visited Suffolk in numbers in its phenomenal incursion into the British Isles, mainly during August and September when eastern England appears to have been one of its landfalls. Mr. F. B. S. Antram who moved to Suffolk from Kent early in 1976, has most kindly sent in a very interesting list of the butterflies and moths he has seen round Wissett near Haiesworth where he runs an actinic light. He says that the Gatekeeper (Maniola tithonus Linn.) was unusually plentiful but that Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria Linn.) and Wall Browns (P. megera Linn.) were only in small numbers as were also the Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperanthus Linn.) and the Common Blue (Polyommatns icarus Rott.). T h e only migrant butterfly he saw was a Painted Lady (Pyrameis cardui Linn.) on August 8th. Among the larger moths he observed the Humming-bird Hawk-moth (Macroglossa stellatarum Linn.) Aying by day on August 15th and at his trap he recorded the Privet Hawk-moth (Sphinx ligustri Linn.) and the Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi Linn.). He also noted in it the Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa Linn.), the Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina Clerck), the Läppet (Gastropacha quercifolia Linn.), the December Moth (Poecilocampa populi Linn.) and the Lackey (Malocosoma neustria Linn.). Among thirty-five noctuid moths the more interesting records included the Pearly Underwing (Peridroma porphyrea Schiff.), the Tawny Shears (Hadena lepida Esp.), the Grey Arches (Polia nebulosa Hüfn.), the Cloaked Minor (Procus furuncula Schiff.), the Straw Underwing (Thalpophila matura Hüfn.), the Large Wainscot {Rhizedra lutosa Hübn.), the Dusky Sallow (Eremobia ochroleuca Schiff.) and the Grey Shoulder Knot (Lithophane ornitopus Hufn.). Of the forty geometers noted the more noteworthy species were the Small Blood-vein (Scopula imitaria Hübn.), the Barred Straw {Lygris pyraliata Schiff.), the Purple Barred (Lycometra ocellata Linn.), the Bordered Pug (Eupithecia succenturiata Linn.), the Orange Moth (Angerona primaria Linn.), not common in the Eastern Counties, also the second brood of the Purple Thorn (Selenia tetralunaria Linn.) which was quite numerous. A much less common species was the August Thorn (Ennomos


230

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 17, Part 3

quercinaria Hüfn.) on August Ist. A peculiar form of the Bordered Beauty (Epione repandaria Hufn.), also in early August, was a notable record. Mr. Beaufoy writes that the Silver-studded Blues (Plebeius argus Linn.) were very plentiful on Martlesham Heath in 1976. He says that the Gatekeeper (Maniola tithonus Linn.) was swarming everywhere, that it was a good year in Suffolk for the Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus Linn.) and that several White Admirals (Limenitis Camilla Linn.) were seen in Bradfield Woods, near Bury St. Edmunds. As usual Mr. Charles Pierce has been good enough to send in his list from Needham Market which is quite impressive. He mentions that he recorded an exceptionally large number of species of moths in the period from the beginning of May tili the end of the half year. After that during the subsequent three months with its very high temperatures the quantity of insects was very large, but with fewer species and those often the commonest among them the Small Nutmeg (Scotogramma trifolii Hüfn.) and the Common Rustic (Apamea secalis Linn.) both in great plenty. In early May he took for the first time the Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata Schiff.) and in early June five specimens of the Obscure Wainscot (Leucania obsoleta Hübn.) of which apparently very few examples have been recorded in the county. But in the first part of the year he only noted a single Maple Prominent (Lophopteryx cucullina Schiff.) which is normally quite numerous. However a fine Lobster Moth (Stauropus fagi Linn.) appeared in June. Other interesting insects which Mr. Pierce records in June, 1976 included the Nut-tree Tussock (Colocasia coryli Linn.), the White Colon (Heliophobus albicolon Hübn.), the Green Silver-lines (Pseudoips prasinana Linn.), the Figure of Eighty (Tethea ocularis Linn.), the Marbled Coronet (Hadena conspersa Schiff.), the Varied Coronet (H. compta Schiff.), the Minor Shoulder Knot (Bombycia viminalis Fab.), the Olive {Zenobia subtusa Schiff.). The geometers included the Scarce Tissue (Rheumaptera cervinalis Scop.), the Blue-bordered Carpet (Plemyria rubiginata Schiff.), the Orange Moth (Angnona prunaria Linn.) and the Lilac Beauty (Apeira syringaria Linn.). July species comprised the Beautiful Hooktip (Laspeyria flexula Schiff.), the Double-lobed (Apamea ophiogramma Esp.), the Fen Wainscot (Arenostola phragmitidis Hübn.), the Southern Wainscot (Leucania straminea Treits.) and the Peach Blossom (Thyatira batis Linn.). Among autumn insects there were the Centrebarred Sallow (Atethmia xerampelina Esp.), the Deepbrown Dart (Aporophyla lutulenta Schiff), the Feathered Gothic (Tholera popularis Fab.) and the Dark Marbled Carpet (Dysstroma citrata Linn.), while a regulär migrant was the Pearly Underwing (Peridroma porphyrea Schiff.).


CAMBERWELL BEAUTIES IN SUFFOLK

231 Mr. A. Watchman has sent in a most comprehensive and interesting list of the 1976 additions to his moth-trap run at Wye Road, Ipswich as well as records of several expeditions he made in the county during the season. He also mentions that two larvae of the Bedstraw Hawk-moth (Hyles gallii Rott.) found feeding on fuchsia in a neighbour's garden in September, 1975, produced imagines in June, 1976. This is evidence of this fine msect overwintering in the pupal State. It is thought that there may be several isolated colonies of it breeding up which are probably the descendants of the great invasion of this moth in 1973. He reports that on the night of June 25th during the Start of the great heat wave no less than 109 species of moths were identified as attracted to a mercury vapour light in the Newbourne Springs Reserve. These included the Pine Hawk-moth (Hyloicus pinastri Linn.), the Lobster (Stauropus fagi Linn.), the Alder Moth (Apatele alni Linn.), of which a larva was found in Ipswich feeding on willow. Large numbers of Gold Swifts (Hepialus hecta Linn.) were seen at dusk. On May 28th Chocolate-tips (Clostera curtula Linn.) were plentiful at Wolves Wood Reserve, while at Barham Church on July 2nd were seen the Pale Shining Brown (Polia nitens Haworth), many of the Figure of Eighty (:Tethea ocularis Linn.) and the Large Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe quadrifasciata Clerck). A rarity taken at Bourne Park, Ipswich on July 30th was the Lunar Yellow Underwing (Euschesis orbona Hüfn.) which has become very scarce in recent years. The same night produced in this locality a Twin-spot Wainscot (Nonagria geminipuncta Haworth) and a lot of Oak Hook-tips (Drepana binaria Hüfn.) which was especialy common in the late summer. Mr. Watchman refers to the abundance of the Small Nutmeg {Scotogramma trifolii Hufn.) in his trap at Wye Road, Ipswich where he also took the White Colon (Heliophobus albicolon Hübn.) on several occasions and says that the Varied Coronet (Hadena compta Schiff.) was very numerous. He emphasises that the melanic form of the Peppered Moth (Biston betularia Linn.) outnumbered the normal pale form by 6 : 1. Among fifty-six newcomers to the trap in 1976 were the Maple Prominent (Lophopteryx cucullina Schiff.), the Poplar Kitten (Harpyia bifida Brahm.), the Stout Dart (Spaelotis ravida Schiff.), the Large Wainscot (.Rhizedra lutosa Hübn.), the Silky Wainscot (Chüodes maritima Tausch), the Feathered Brindle (Aporophyla australis Boisd.), the Bordered Sallow (Pyrrhia umbra Hüfn.), the Dusky-lemon Sallow (Cirrhia gilvago Schiff.) and the Scarce Silver Lines (Pseudoips bicolorana FuessL). Of the geometrid species by far the most noteworthy was the very local Tawny Wave (Scopula rubiginata Hufn.) which has not often been noted in East Suffolk,


232

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 17, Part 3

though its chief home is on the western side of the county in the Breckland. Other interesting visitors included the Beautiful Carpet (Mesoleuca albicillata Linn.), the local Sloe Carpet (Bapta distinctata H.-S.), the Lunar Thorn (Selenia lunaria Schiff.), the Small Emerald (Hemistola Immaculata Thunb.), the White-Pinionspotted (Bapta bimaculata Fab.) also the Netted Pug (Eupithecia venosata Fab.) and the Bordered White (Bupalus piniaria Linn.). I did not visit Suffolk myself for collecting purposes during 1976. Mr. A. R. J. Paine of Felixstowe reports a number of butterflies from various parts of the county. These include the Orangetip (Anthocharis cardamines Linn.) from Trimley Lake on May 8th where five were observed and a single male from Walberswick on May 17th. The Peacock (Inachis io Linn.) was first seen on April lOth, then not tili August 2nd and finally on October 16th, evidence of a second emergence during the autumn, never reported before for Britain. Four Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui Linn.) were noted at Lakenheath on July 25th, one at Walberswick on the 30th and another the same day at Bentwaters. T h e Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae Linn.) was first observed on March 20th and last seen on October 16th. Mr. Paine emphasises the profusion of the Gatekeeper (Maniola tithonus Linn.) during July tili first days of August, a very early period for this insect. A Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria Linn.), an uncommon species for the Eastern Counties, was recorded at Walberswick on July 30th. Six Purple Hairstreaks (Thecla quercus Linn.) were noted at Nacton Decoy as early as June lOth in this very hot year, while Holly Blues (Celastrina argiolus Linn.) were seen in singles from May 9th to July 26th. The Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus Rott.) first appeared on June 5th and was last seen on August 5th. 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.

Camberwell Beauties, the scarce Chocolate Tip and other Lepidoptera in Suffolk during 1976  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you