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S U F F O L K L E P I D O P T E R A IN 1982

H . E . CHIPPERFIELD

After a very cold January, a mild evening on 6th February tempted Mr. R. F. Eley to make a trip to the King's Forest in West Suffolk where he saw between 50 and 60 Agriopis leucophaeria D. & S. spring usher and a sprinkling of A. marginaria Fabr. dotted border, Apocheimapilosaria D. & S. pale brindled beauty and Alsophila aescularia D. & S. march moth. At Walberswick the first moths to appear were A. pilosaria on 27th February and Theria primaria Haw. (rupicapraria auct.) the early moth on 28th. Of the butterflies the Spring broods of both Pieris napi Linn, green-veined white, P. rapae Linn, small garden white and the only brood of Anthocharis cardamines Linn, orange-tip were about in their usual numbers at Walberswick and Messrs. R. F. Eley and Arthur Watchman and Wing-Commander F. J. French reported the same position at Nowton, Monks Eleigh and Felixstowe respectively. Hibernated Polygonia c-album Linn, the comma were noted by Mr. Gardiner at Reydon and Wing-Commander F. J. French at Felixstowe. Mr. Gardiner also saw quite a number of Gonepterix rhamni Linn, brimstone. After several quite good years Celastrina argiolus Linn, holly blue had a very poor year in both the spring and summer broods and Mr. Eley said the same applied to Aricia agestis D. & S. brown argus in West Suffolk. On the other hand Lasiommata megera Linn, the wall brown missing from the Walberswick area since 1976 was present in both spring and summer broods. On 3rd May three male Saturnia pavonia Linn, emperor moths assembled to a freshly-emerged female at Walberswick. The 'assembling' of male insects to virgin females is a well-known phenomenon used by entomologists to attract specimens. The highly specialised antennae of certain male insects enable them to locate the females from quite a long distance. At the open day of the Suffolk Trust for Nature Conservation on 9th May at Rookery Farm, Monewden the only lepidoptera in evidence were numbers of the small tortrix moth Falseuncaria ruficiliana Haw. red-fringed conch whose larvae feed on the seeds of cowslip. Mr. Arthur Watchman recorded a number of moths at M.V. light on Hollesley Heath on 4th June including both male and female Macrothylacia rubi Linn, fox moth. Usually only the females of this species come to light as the normal male flight takes place during sunshine. Mr. Watchman also reported Drepana cultraria Fabr. barred hook-tip, a local species in Suffolk which occurs where there is a good growth of beech, over ten of each of Arctia villica Linn, cream-spot tiger, Drymonia dodonaea D. & S. marbled brown and Elaphria venustula HĂźbn. rosy marbled, a small noctuid moth which is local but has been turning up in a number of fresh localities lately. He also saw singles of Stauropus fagi Linn, lobster moth and Acronicta alni Linn, alder moth. This latter species was considered to be a great rarity until the advent of the mercury vapour lamp, and the larva is now known to feed on birch as well as alder. Other moths observed were Peridea anceps Goeze.

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great prominent, Perconia strigillaria Hübn. grass wave, Nycteola revayana Scop. oak nycteoline and Deilephila porcellus Linn, small elephant hawk, which prefers a drier habitat than the large elephant hawk. On 16th June he saw at Wangford Glebe Reserve a few Diacrisia sannio Linn, clouded buff, a member of the tiger family, and one each of Lithacodia pygarga Hufn. marbled white spot and Cybosia mesomella Linn, four-dotted footman. At Rampart Field Picnic Area, West Stow, on lOth July he recorded a number of moths including Mesotype virgata Hufn. oblique striped, one of the typical Breckland insects, Hylaea fasciaria Linn, barred red, a common moth of the pine woods, but including one specimen of the rare green form ab. prasinaria which occasionally turns up in Suffolk, and Idaea muricata Hufn. purplebordered gold. On 2nd July Photedes elymi Treit. lyme grass wainscot came to my garden moth trap. This sandhill species occurs on the East Coast where its food plant the lyme grass grows. A single Eustrotia uncula Hübn. silver hook was seen in its boggy habitat in Walberswick on 5th. This small noctuid moth is only just recovering from the sea flooding in 1976. On Westleton Heath on the 8th male Plebejus argus Linn, silver-studded blue butterflies were out in very fresh condition. On 15th Chilodes maritimus Tausch, silky wainscot came to light at Walberswick. Mr. Muddeman telephoned from Weston near Beccles to say that he had seen a number of Strymonidia w-album Knock, white-letter hairstreak butterflies on 16th July. These butterflies are more often found in the larval State on wych elm flowers which is their food plant. Mr. Edgar MilneRedhead reported the sighting of a Lampides boeticus Linn, long-tailed blue butterfly on 23rd July at Freston by Miss Jean Blackler. This insect is only endemic in Europe in the Mediterranean region and is one of the rarest migrants to Britain. Claude Morley was only able to quote one example in Suffolk up to 1937 and that was seen by C. A. Pyett, a keen lepidopterist, at Felixstowe in August 1897. On July 26th a specimen of Amphipyra berbera Rungs. ssp. svenssoni Svensson's copper under-wing emerged from a larva beaten out of oak in Dunwich Forest. This species was only separated from the common copper u n d e r w i n g A pyramidea Linn, in 1967 by Svensson but has been found to be just as plentiful and widespread. Mr. R. F. Eley had an example of Lithomoia solidaginis Hübn. golden-rod brindle in his garden trap at Nowton on 22nd July. H e said it was much smaller and darker than the usual British specimens, which are usually found only in northern England and Scotland. He feels it must have been an immigrant. He also saw Rhyaciaslmulans Hufn. dotted rusticcommonly, but Spaelotis ravida D. & S. stout dart was well below average numbers. R. simulans was found by Messrs. Skinner and Elliott at Thorpeness, by Mr. Mark Stirling at Dunwich and Mr. Terry Dillon found four at buddleia blossom at Southwold in early August. These records show a further spread of this species in Suffolk, and it is also extending its ränge in Kent and in other counties. Other species noted by Mr. Eley in King's Forest were Xestia rhomboidea Esp. (stigmatica H ü b n . ) square-spotted clay, Parastichtissuspecta Hübn. the suspected which was abundant at sugar and was a first record for him in that

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 19


SUFFOLK LEPIDOPTERA IN 1 9 8 2

335

locality, Photedes fluxa Hübn. mere wainscot, and Lithophane semibrunnea Haw. tawny pinion. Among Mr. Watchman's more interesting records at Monks Eleigh were Ptilophoraplumigera D. & S. plumed prominent which was in good numbers as was also Thera juniperata Linn, juniper carpet. This latter species was described by Claude Morley in 1937 as 'extremely rare, perhaps extinct'. However since then juniper has been planted in many gardens and in addition some normal juniper feeders now feed on Cupressus. Other species recorded were Aleucis distinctata H.-S. sloe carpet, Xanthia ocellaris Borkh. pale-iemon sallow whose larvae feed on poplar catkins, Nascia cilialis Hübn. orange-rayed pearl, a local marsh dweller, and Hypena rostralis Linn, buttoned snout, which has become quite scarce in recent years, having disappeared from many of its former haunts. The larva feeds on hop. As so often happens, the late summer and autumn proved to be the most interesting part of the year entomologically. In late July Messrs. Bernard Skinner and Brian Elliott set about investigating the status of Herminia tarsicrinalis Knoch. in Britain. This moth was unknown here before 1963 when Mr. E. C. Pelham-Clinton took a specimen at Thorpeness. At first he thought it was H. tarsipennalis Treit. the fan-foot, but on his return to the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh (where he was employed as a professional lepidopterist) he realised that he had found a moth new to Britain. Only one other specimen had been found until this year. Messrs. Skinner and Elliott, having found out about its secretive habits from Continental entomologists, were then able to prove that it was more plentiful than had been supposed and they saw quite a number at Thorpeness. Mr. Skinner showed a coloured photograph of the larva at the Annual Exhibition of the British Entomological and Natural History Society in October. On 29th October I had a specimen of Lithophane leautieri Boisd. Blair's shoulder-knot in my moth trap at Walberswick. Mr. Watchman first recorded this species for Suffolk in 1980 and has seen it each year since then. This year he saw it at Monks Eleigh on seven occasions between 29th September and 22nd October. My Walberswick specimen therefore represents a further extension of its ränge eastwards. Migrant moths were recorded in greater numbers in 1982 than in any year since 1976. Acherontia atropos Linn, death's head hawk was reported by Mr. Howard Mendel from a garden in Felixstowe owned by Mr. Bones on 19th September. Dr. E . A. Ellis (Ted Ellis of the BBC) showed another on his nature Programme in ' W e e k e n d ' on B B C 1 East in October. This specimen had been found at Southwold. Agrius convolvuli Linn, convolvulus hawk was first seen on 29th August at Walberswick and continued appearing periodically until early October, about half a dozen in all. It was also reported by Mr. Eley at Nowton on 14th and 27th September and from Bury St. Edmunds in October. Mr. Mendel saw one at Felixstowe on 28th September in the garden of Mr. T. Jeremiah. Macroglossum stellatarum Linn, humming-bird hawk was reported to Mr. Mendel by Mr. Swindon at Holbrook on 30th September. About half a dozen were seen by Mr. Eley between 4th June at Wordwell and late September at Bury St. Edmunds. Mr. Watchman saw examples at Monks Eleigh on 27th June and 14th August and had sightings

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reported to him at Sycamore Farm, Swilland on 6th May, at Elmsett on 24th June, at Hadleigh on 2nd July, at Ipswich on 15th September, at Felixstowe on 29th September and at Monks Eleigh on 8th October. All three of these hawk moths were also widely reported in other parts of the country. On 25th August I found larvae of another migrant moth, Heliothis peltigera D. & S. bordered straw, on Walberswick beach feeding on sticky groundsel. An imago of this species came to my M. V. light on 19th September and on 26th September a specimen of Helicovera armigera HĂźbn. scarce bordered straw also came to my garden light trap. This is the third time I have had H. armigera at Walberswick. It is found in all five continents but is only a casual visitor to Britain. The larvae feed on many wild and cultivated plants including tomatoes, oranges, melons and cereals and are sometimes very destructive to crops. In the USA they are known as 'cotton boll worms'. In this country they are sometimes imported with tomatoes or oranges. Other migrant moths seen were Nomophila noctuella D. & S. rush veneer and Udea ferrugalis HĂźbn. rusty dot, both fairly numerous at Walberswick and elsewhere and also recorded by Mr. Watchman at Monks Eleigh. Finally, butterfly records included several observations of Colias croceus Geoff. clouded yellow, one by Mr. Eley at Nowton. Vanessa atalanta Linn, red admiral were around in good numbers everywhere with a fair sprinkling of Cynthia cardui Linn, painted lady reported by Mr. Eley, Mr. S. Pietrowski and others, and Polygonia c-album Linn, comma. Both Inachis io Linn, peacock and Aglais urticae Linn, small tortoiseshell were quite plentiful everywhere. Mr. Mendel of Ipswich Museum had reports of sightings of Nymphalispolychloros Linn, large tortoiseshell by Miss E. Mortimer at Earl Stonham on 30th July and by Dr. C. Grey-Wilson at Hitcham on Ist August. This species was reasonably plentiful in East Suffolk woods until 1954, when it suddenly became scarce everywhere in the country. Whether the reported sightings since are the result of immigration or the remnants of old colonies is a matter of conjecture. It is thought that the disappearance of this fine insect from all its old habitats may be due to climatic changes. H. E . Chipperfield, F . R . E . S . , Walberswick, Suffolk.

More white-berried spindle! Following my report on this unusual variety (see Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 18, 320), Dr. G. D . Heathcote wrote to say that he too came across spindle (Euonymus europaeus) with white berries in December 1982 while looking for eggs of 'blackfiy' (Aphis fabae). It was growing on rough ground near Herringswell in West Suffolk. Professor M. J. Way of Imperial College, London, told Dr. Heathcote that he noticed this abnormal form for the first time in 1982, at Puriton in Somerset, but that he did not know if it bred true or was caused by the particular conditions in 1982. E . M. Hyde

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Suffolk Lepidoptera in 1982  
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