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SUFFOLK LEPIDOPTERA IN 1978 H. E.

CHIPPERFIELD

Mild conditions prevailed for the first two weeks in the New Y e a r and Mr. R. Eley of Nowton in West Suffolk recorded the pale brindled beauty, Apocheima pilosaria D. & S., on Ist January and the hibernating mottled umber, Erannis defoliaria Clerck, on 2nd of the month. From the middle of January until well into March cold easterly winds kept the temperature low and few insects were seen. In Walberswick the first yellow horned, Achlya flavicornis Tutt, came to my M . V . light on 13th March, the oak beauty, Biston strataria Hufn., on 28th and on 30th the orange underwing, Archiearis parthenias Linn., was Aying in numbers in Blythburgh Fen Wood. Düring March and April the commoner 'Quaker' moths appeared but in smaller numbers than usual. On 22nd April at a Suffolk Trust for Nature Conservation meeting at Redgrave/Lopham Fen tapping some sallow bushes produced several larvae of the slender pug, Eupithecia tenuiata Hübn., a n u m b e r of two species of Eriocrania and a female of the longhorn moth, Adela cuprella, a species not often encountered in East Anglia. T h e continuing cool weather retarded emergence of the early butterflies but during May the three common 'whites' a p p e a r e d together with the orange-tip, Anfhocharis cardamines Ver., small heath, Coenonympha pamphilus Linn., green hairstreak, Callophrys rubi Linn., and small copper, Lycaena phlaeas Fab. A m o n g the 'browns' the wall brown, Lasiommata megera Linn., ringlet, Aphantopus hyperantus Linn., and meadow brown, Maniola jurtina Linn., were rather uncommon near the coast although they were more plentiful inland and Mr. R. Eley reported them as very common in the Breck District with the addition of the speckled wood, Pararge aegeria But. The hedge brown, Pyronia tithonus Ver., was a b u n d a n t throughout the county. O n 23rd May I paid a visit to Tunstall Forest to see if a plantation of Abies grandis supported colonies of two tortrices whose larvae had recently been found to feed on this food plant in Hampshire. I found that the faint silver-striped bell, Epinotia subsequana Haw., was present in fair numbers but there was no sign of the other species. On a large larch tree larval cases of Coleophora laricella Hübn., were quite Trans. S u f f . Nat. Vol. 18 part 1.


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common. Several larvae of the white-letter hairstreak butterfly, Strymonidia w-album Knoch, were found on wych elm on the outskirts of Dunwich Forest on 30th May, and a flame wainscot, Senta flammea Curt., came to M. V. in my garden on 5th June. A clouded buff, Diacrisia sannio Linn., came to my garden trap on 6th July and the lyme grass moth, Photedes elymi Treits. was to be found at light and also freshly emerged on the lyme grass stems on Southwold beach when I visited that area with Mr. L. Price on 7th July. A maple prominent, Ptilodontella cucullina D. & S., also visited our lights on that occasion. Both the heart and club, Agrotis clavis Hufn., and the brown-tail, Euproctis chrysorrhoea Linn., were more common than usual in July at Walberswick and on 3rd August a specimen of the pygmy footman, Eilema pygmaeola Doubl., came to my garden moth trap. This is the second time the moth has appeared in this area and one wonders if a colony has been established from the long existing one on the Norfolk coast. Both Fenn's wainscot, Photedes brevilinea Fenn, and the white-mantled wainscot, Archanara neurica HĂźbn., continued scarce, no doubt suffering from the extensive cutting and burning of the reeds in which the larvae feed during the winter months. On 30th August Mr. C. Waller, the warden of Walberswick National Nature Reserve, found a specimen of the yellow-legged clearwing, Synanthedon vespiformis Linn., at Sotterley. Although not as common as usual many butterflies appeared in August and September. The holly blue, Celastrina argiolus Ver., was fairly plentiful from 17th August onwards and the large garden white, Pieris brassicae Linn., and small gardefi white, Pieris rapae Linn., were very plentiful during the autumn. The silver-studded blue, Plebejus argus Linn., was out on Westleton Heath on 17th August, the red admiral, Vanessa atalanta Linn., from 22nd August onwards, the brimstone, Gonepteryx rhamni Linn., on 8th September and the painted lady, Cynthia cardui Linn., on 9th. Neither the red admiral nor the painted lady was as plentiful as usual. Both the pretty chalk carpet, Melanthia procellata D. & S., and scallop shell, Rheumaptera undulata Linn., came to our actinic lights when Mr. Frank Antram and I visited Dunwich Forest on 14th August. The former is not at all common in the sandy coastal area of Suffolk owing to the lack of the chalk-loving wild clematis, the food plant of the larva. The Trans. S u f f . Nat. Vol. 18 pari 1.


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large thorn, Ennomos autumnaria Wem., appeared at Walberswick on 25th September. This species seems to be spreading eastwards in Suffolk as it was unknown to the county in 1937 when the late Claude Morley described it as 'doubtfully indigenous'. M r . R. Berry reported a specimen of the rosy marbled m o t h , Elaphria venustula Hübn., at Minsmere in June, The only previous records of this moth in Suffolk are of three or four specimens, all within twenty yards at light in Blythburgh on 25th J u n e 1937 by the late P. J. Burton and a single example at Thorpeness by Mr. J. Roche on 3rd July 1975. Mr. B u r t o n goes on to say that although he searched several similar spots he could find no more. The moth is very local and flies at dusk in districts where its larval food-plant cinquefoil occurs. Düring the last few years it has appeared in several new localities so it may have been overlooked because of its small size. In O c t o b e r a large immigration of insects occurred in the W e s t Country but it was not until 7th November that any were seen at Walberswick when the rusty dot, Udea ferrugalis Hübn., and white-speck or American wainscot, Mythimna unipuncta Haw., came to my M.V. light. The only two previous records for the county of the latter of which I am aware were single examples at Leiston in 1878, and at Bealings on 29th O c t o b e r 1969, in a moth tray operated by the late Mr. W . H . Storey. O n 16th O c t o b e r 1977 I took a moth which I thought was an unusual form of the brick, Agrochola circellaris Hufn. On examining the specimen more closely I discovered that it was a delicate, Mythimna vitellina Hübn., an immigrant wainscot usually found on the South Coast. The only previous example k n o w n to Claude Morley in 1937 was one taken on Gorleston Cliffs by Mr. Chester Doughty on Ist October 1922. M r . R. Eley sent in a list of Lepidoptera seen in Bury St. E d m u n d s area and in addition to those already mentioned he r e p o r t e d large numbers of the yellow horned, Achlya flavicornis Tutt, various 'Quakers' in smaller numbers, half a dozen mottled grey, Colostygia multistrigaria Haw., and a Single small brindled beauty, Apocheima hispidaria D. &S.,a r a t h e r local moth at North Stow on 29th March. Düring a day-time visit to the King's Forest on 2nd April he saw large n u m b e r s of the orange underwing, Archiearis parthenias Linn., Aying round the birch trees. At Nowton on 25th April a n d 2nd May he saw the sloe carpet, Aleucis distinetata H.-S., Trans. S u f f . Nat. Vol. 18 part 1.


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a local geometer. On 6th May he had dozens of the broom-tip, Chesias rufata Fab., to his light on Berner's Heath and on 16th May he found a male pine hawk, Hyloicus pinastri Linn., at rest at West Stow. This is a very early date for the moth. W a r m e r weather in June produced larger numbers of insects to the light trap in his garden and a white Colon, Sideridis albicolon HĂźbn., turned up in early June. This species is usually more plentiful near the coast, but it also occurs in the Breck District from which area Mr. Eley says it is spreading. A visit to Berner's H e a t h on 29th July produced 89 species including 3 specimens of the mere wainscot, Photedes fluxa HĂźbn., his first record for the area which was followed by two more in the same locality on 5th August and one at his garden trap on 9th August. Very large numbers of the stout dart, Spaelotis revida D. & S., and the garden dart, Euxoa nigricans Linn., were seen in the late summer. S. ravida is a species which may be unrecorded for several years and it will then suddenly a p p e a r in quite large numbers. Mr. E . Milne-Redhead sent in lists of moths attracted to a moth trap in his garden at Nayland on 28/29th July and 16/ 17th S e p t e m b e r . These contained 366 individuals and 58 named species and 67 individuals and 22 species respectively. They were mostly common species but included the following more interesting insects:- the sycamore, Acronicta aceris Linn., beautiful golden-Y, Autographa pulchrina Haw., wood leopard, Zeuzera pyrina Linn., august thorn, Ennomos quercinaria Hufn., and pale oak beauty, Serraca punctinalis Scop , T h e r e were also two unidentified insects. Mr. M i l n e - R e d h e a d also found a larva of the dark spectacle, Abrostola tregemina Wem., on nettles in his garden. He remarks that it is very different from the larva of the light spectacle, Abrostola triplasia Linn., and of course it is very much rarer in the Eastern Counties. Mr. F r a n k A n t r a m ran his actinic light trap at Wissett t h r o u g h o u t the year and also on a few occasions at Fen Wood, Blythburgh. He has kept a complete record of numbers of species seen. Naturally most will be the more common insects but a m o n g them are the powdered quaker, Orthosia gracilis D. & S., on 29th March which is a rather early date, the water carpet, Lampropteryx suffumata D. & S., on 8th May, not very c o m m o n in Suffolk, the great prominent, Peridea anceps Goeze, at Fen Wood, 4 broad-bordered bee hawk moths, Hemaris fuciformis Linn., in Fen Cottage garden on 28th and 29th May respectively. A puss moth. Cerura vinula Linn., Trans. S u f f . Nat. Vol. 18 pari 1.


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came to his light at Wissett on 30th May and a lunar thorn, Selenia lunularia HĂźbn., on 4th June. The lunar thorn is r a t h e r uncommon in Suffolk. A sycamore moth, Acronicta aceris Linn., was present on 8th July and on 22nd of the month the four-dotted footman, Cybosia mesomella Linn., was seen at Fen Wood. A m o n g many species occurring at Wissett were the purple thorn, Selenia tetralunaria Hufn., on 25th July onwards, which Mr. A n t r a m says was quite common. This would be the second brood and he says he did not see any of the first brood. T h e small dotted buff, Photedes minima Haw., was seen on Ist August and the dusky sallow, Eremobia ochroleuca D. & S., on 13th. A visit to Dunwich Forest on 14th resulted in a specimen of the pretty chalk carpet, Melanthia procellata D. & S., coming to actinic light. This species is quite common in chalky districts. O n 17th August a stout dart, Spaelotis ravida D. & S., came to light at Wissett and proved to be the first of a number of this moth which is very erratic in its appearances. Three species of hawk moth were recorded at Wissett, the poplar, Laothoe populi Linn., eyed, Smerinthus ocellata Linn., and privet, Sphinx ligustri Linn., the former turned up from 5th June onwards. M r . A r t h u r Watchman who moved from Ipswich to Monks Eleigh in 1977 wrote to say that during 1978 he had recorded 338 species of moths in his new district. This total included micros, some of which are still to be identified. A m o n g the butterflies he noted most of the species to be found in open country in Suffolk but the brimstone, Gonepteryx rhamni Linn., and white-letter hairstreak, Strymonidia w-album Knoch., are worthy of mention. The latter is probably more c o m m o n than generally supposed where wych elms exist. A m o n g the more interesting moths were the plumed p r o m i n e n t , Ptilophora plumigera D. & S., lunar marbled b r o w n , Drymonia ruficornis Hufn., pale oak eggar, Trichuira crataegi Linn., olive, Ipimorpha subtusa D. & S., stout dart, Spaelotis ravida D. & S., juniper carpet, Thera juniperata Linn., lilac beauty, Apeira syringaria Linn., blotched e m e r a l d , Comibaena bajularia D. & S., phoenix, Eulithis prunata Linn., the last two at Ickworth Park. T h e juniper carpet has not often been seen in Suffolk. The late Mr. W. H. Storey took it at Bealings in October 1973, but Mr. W a t c h m a n has found it quite commonly at Monks Eleigh. Juniper is a very rare wild plant in Suffolk but the moth has probably come with the many introduced junipers in gardens. T h e group of moths known as the 'sallows' were well Trans. S u f f . Nat. Vol. 18 part 1.


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represented with 5 different species, only two being missing. The 'thorns' were also much in evidence, nine species being present with the large thorn, Ennomos autumnaria Wem., the most interesting. Two interesting micros were also recorded, the pyrale orange-rayed pearl, Nascia cilialis Hübn., a marsh insect and white-bordered crest, Dichomeris marginellus Fabr., whose larva feeds on juniper. Mr. Watchman had also taken this species in Ipswich and I have had it in Walberswick on two occasions. Mr. E. F. Allen of Copdock reported a dusky sallow, Eremobia ochroleuca D. & S., feeding on flowers of Sedum spectabile in his garden on 17th September. This species is widespread in Suffolk and has been extending its ränge in recent years. Generally butterflies in Suffolk were below average except for large and small garden whites which were abundant in early autumn, Mr. S. Beaufoy reported both broods of the holly blue, Celastrina argiolus Ver., in reasonable numbers in the Ipswich district, but I saw only the second brood in Walberswick where it was in quite good numbers. Mr. Beaufoy also found the silver-studded blue to be holding its own but not abundant, but saw no sight of any fritillaries or the white admiral, Ladoga Camilla Linn., which used to be found in the woods around Ipswich. To sum up, 1978 was a late season with very little of interest until the late autumn when there was an influx of migrants in the West Country some of which eventually reached Suffolk. A s a postscript to my report I have received a very interesting letter from Mr. E. A. Pryke of Ipswich regarding his entomological activities in 1978. His experience as with most lepidopterists was that the first few months were not very fruitful, but he found a great prominent, Peridea anceps Goeze, at the beginning of June and from then until the late autumn he recorded most of the moths one would expect to find in Suffolk. The more interesting were Vines rustic, Hoplodrina ambigua D. & S., large thorn, Ennomos autumnaria Wem., and pearly underwing, Peridroma saucia Hübn., which is one of the few migrant moths recorded in Suffolk in 1978. H. E. Chipperfield, F.R.E.S., Walberswick, Suffolk.

Trans. S u f f . Nat. Vol. 18 part 1.

Suffolk Lepidoptera in 1978  
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