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A TRIBUTE AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK

MOTHS

A . WATCHMAN

With s o m e sadness I write these notes, because it m e a n s that t h e man w h o usually did so and w h o i n t r o d u c e d m e to the s u b j e c t , is no longer with us. It was o n the evening of 17th S e p t e m b e r , 1969, that I first met ' C h i p ' C h i p p e r f i e l d , w h e n J a n e t and I a t t e n d e d the ' m o t h night' at N e w H o u s e , S y c a m o r e F a r m , Swilland, a r r a n g e d by the Ipswich and District N a t u r a l History Society. W e k n e w nothing about m o t h s or what constituted a ' m o t h night', b u t discovered t h e r e a M V l a m p hanging over a white sheet which was spread o n the g r o u n d a n d on which had been placed some egg boxes. Most Strange! A s m o t h s l a n d e d on the s h e e t , the stocky g e n t l e m a n gave t h e m n a m e s , which b e c a m e m o r e unlikely as the night wore on . . . Silver Y , S q u a r e - s p o t Rustic, Setaceous H e b r e w C h a r a c t e r . . . he must be m a k i n g them up! ' C h i p ' c a m e to the f a r m again t h e following y e a r , by which time a t t e m p t s had b e e n m a d e by o n e or t w o of us to identify m o t h s seen at the f a r m and at h o m e . Interest in t h e subject increased rapidly a f t e r that and within the next twelve m o n t h s a g r o u p of us were ' m o t h i n g ' at various places in S u f f o l k , using o u r newly p u r c h a s e d g e a r , namely a small g e n e r a t o r , driven by a car b a t t e r y , a M V l a m p , ' S o u t h ' V o l u m e s I and II a n d , of c o u r s e , the egg boxes!! H o w e v e r , as t h e m o t h s c a m e to the light in increasing n u m b e r s , we realised h o w difficult it is for beginners as we labouriously t h u m b e d t h r o u g h ' S o u t h ' . So ' C h i p ' was contacted and he kindly agreed to c o m e with us o n s o m e of o u r Visits. W e also a t t e n d e d s o m e of his meetings, including o n e on his ' o w n p a t c h ' , n a m e l y t h e Walberswick m a r s h e s , w h e r e that rarity, Archanara neurica H b . W h i t e - m a n t l e d Wainscot is to b e f o u n d . O n m a n y occasions ' C h i p ' has acted as host t o visiting lepidopterists anxious to acquire the insect, a n d to m e 'neurica' b e c a m e almost s y n o n o m o u s with Chipperfield. T h e n c a m e t h o s e e n j o y a b l e evenings at t h e 'Shieling' w h e r e we were invited t o see ' C h i p ' s ' collection of butterflies and moths. W e w e r e always m a d e very w e l c o m e a n d Fay ( ' M r s C h i p ' ) saw to it that we w e r e well 'wined and d i n e d ' . E v e r y insect in the collection s e e m e d to have its own story and ' C h i p ' n e v e r tired of relating w h e r e they w e r e t a k e n , u n d e r w h a t circumstances, w h o he was with, etc. etc. A l t h o u g h a s t i m e went by we t e n d e d to see less of ' C h i p ' he was always available w h e n any queries arose. Of c o u r s e he was not only k n o w n for his ' B u g hunting' as he liked to call it. H e was t r e a s u r e r of this Society for longer than s o m e of us can r e m e m b e r and w o r k e d f o r o t h e r organisations and his Community at Walberswick where he was a p o p u l ä r and well-known figure. T h e c r o w d e d church for his f u n e r a l was witness t o this. T h e r e a r e s o m e p e o p l e w h o it s e e m s will always be p r e s e n t and it is impossible to imagine t h e place without t h e m . ' C h i p ' was o n e of these p e o p l e . W e shall miss him greatly. C o m p a r e d to 1 9 8 3 , 1 9 8 4 s e e m e d almost a non-event as far as migrant m o t h s were c o n c e r n e d , a l t h o u g h Macroglossum stellatarum Linn. H u m m i n g - b i r d

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Nat. Soc. 21


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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 21

Hawk was recorded in a local garden on four occasions during late July and, more interestingly, larvae of Acherontia atropos Linn. Death's-head Hawk were reported from a number of localities. These included Swilland ( J D ) , Hadleigh (CB) and Felixstowe (MW). Of the 'micros' Nomophila noctuella D. & S. and Plutella xylostella Linn, were rather scarce but Udea ferrugalis Hb. was in good numbers. On the subject of migrants, a 1983 record not previously mentioned, was of a HeliothispeltigeraD. & S. Bordered Straw at light in Ipswich on 15th August (AH). This is a rare moth in Suffolk, having been recorded on less than ten occasions from VC 25 and not at all from VC 26 (Heath & Emmet, 1983). 'Macros' added to the garden list at Monks Eleigh during 1984 included Ochropacha duplaris Linn. Common Lutestring, Lacanobia w-latinum Hufn. Light Brocade, Nonagria typhae Thunb. Bulrush Wainscot and Polymixis flavicincta D. & S. Large Ranunculus. The latter species was a regulär visitor to the light trap when we lived in Ipswich, and it is interesting to compare the species noted there with those at Monks Eleigh, to find the ones which seem to be more 'town' than 'country'. These include such species as Polychrysia moneta Fabr. Golden Plusia, and Cryphia domestica Hufn. Marbled Beauty, only a few of each having been seen at Monks Eleigh but they were common in Ipswich. However, the most outstanding examples are Discestra trifolii Hufn. Nutmeg, around one hundred specimens of which were recorded in the Ipswich trap, and Paradiarsia glareosa Esp. Autumnal Rustic and Mythimna comma Hb. Shoulder-striped Wainscot, neither of which have yet been noted at Monks Eleigh. It was thought that Rhyacia simulans Hufn. Dotted Rustic noted at light on three occasions in July, 1984, was another addition to the list, but a very worn moth taken on 18th July, 1983, was subsequently found to be of this species. That notorious group of moths, the 'Pugs', often ignored by lepidopterists, can be approached with less foreboding now that 'An Identification Guide to the British Pugs' has been published by the British Entomological and Natural History Society, and in consequence one or two more were added to the garden list. Among the 'micros' were two from the family Pyralidae. Pyrausta aurata Scop. was one, this being a pretty moth with purplish forewings blotched with yellow. As well as being active by night, it can be seen Aying in the sunshine over its foodplants, Catmint, Mentha spp. Thyme etc. The other 'micro' was Pyralis farinalis Linn, and, although it is an attractive moth with the forewings a mosaic of purple-brown and lighter areas crossed by curving white lines, it is the 'meal moth', one of the pests of stored food products. Alan Hubbard of Dorset Close, Ipswich, sent me details of the moths noted at his garden light during 1984. He had most of the common species that one would expect early in the year but also Orthosia munda D. & S. Twin-spotted Quaker, Lomographa bimaculata Fabr. White-pinion Spotted and Biston strataria Hufn. Oak Beauty. During June he had Lobophora halterata Hufn. Seraphim and Nola confusalis H.-S. Least Black Arches and on the night of the 19th an Acronicta aceris Linn. Sycamore and two Mimas tiliae Linn. Lime Hawks appeared. July and August brought him, among others, Hadena compta D. & S. Varied Coronet, Deilephila elpenor Linn.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 21


A TRIBUTE A N D NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS

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Elephant Hawk, Deilephilaporcellus Linn. Small Elephant Hawk, Ptilodontella cucullina D. & S. Maple Prominent (this moth seems to have increased Over the last few years) and Zeuzera pyrina Linn. Leopard moth, a member of one of the primitive families of moths, the Cossidae, and sometimes a pest, its larvae burrowing in the stems and branches of many shrubs and trees, including fruit trees. The autumn records included Catocala nupta Linn. Red Underwing, Dryobotodes eremita Fabr. Brindled Green and Agrotis ipsilon Hufn. Dark Sword-grass. Also, during the year at Ipswich, Alan recorded Marbled Beauty, Large Ranunculus, Shoulder-striped Wainscot and Autumnal Rustic, four of the 'townies' mentioned earlier. Alan also recorded the moths on the STNC Bromeswell Green reserve, of which he is Honorary Warden and has sent me details. On 15 April, 1984, larvae of Philudoria potatoria Linn. Drinker were much in evidence and up to four Hemaris fuciformis Linn. Broad-bordered Bee Hawks were Aying around Red Campion on 9th June. Other interesting species noted on the Reserve during June were Clostera curtula Linn. Chocolate-tip, Serraca punctinalis Scop. Pale Oak Beauty and on the 30th several larvae of Cucullia verbasci Linn. The Mullein were found feeding on Water Figwort. An addition to the Reserve list was Lygephila pastinum Treit. The Blackneck which was disturbed during maintenance work on 29th July. Two 'moth nights' were held on the Reserve during 1984, both by the Suffolk Moth Group. The first was on 3rd August when nearly 80 species were recorded, including Ipimorpha subtusa D. & S. The Olive, Schrankia costaestrigalis Steph. Pinion-Streaked Snout and Parastichtis suspecta Hb. The Suspected. The second was on behalf of the local 'Watch' group when 65 species of 'macro' were identified, including Hyloicus pinastri Linn. Pine Hawk, Furcula furcula Cl. Sallow Kitten and Berta prasinana Linn. Scarce Silverlines. The Suffolk Moth Group held mothing sessions at various other venues in the county during 1984. These included White House Farm, Frostenden on 6th July and 22nd August. The first was at the site of old brickpits where over 50 species were recorded, including Pseudoips fagana Fabr. Green silver-lines and Charanyca trigrammica Hufn. Treble Lines. The second was held in one of the marshland meadows, where incredible numbers of flies and sea fog were encountered, but nearly 90 species of moths were identified, including Aspitates ochrearia Rossi Yellow Belle and Meganola albula D. & S. Kent Black Arches. The 30th July found us on Aldeburgh beach. The evening was very warm and insects were Coming to the light in large numbers, including Earias clorana Linn. Cream-bordered Green Pea and Scopula rubiginata Hufn. Tawny Wave. Proceedings were brought to an abrupt end by violent thunderstorms. A return visit there on 17th August was in dry but somewhat cooler conditions. However, we did see some interesting species including Gastropacha quercifolia Linn. The Läppet and Lacanobia suasa D. & S. Dog's Tooth. An invitation to hold a moth night at Snape, in connection with Heritage

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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 21

Coast Week was accepted and on Saturday, 1 Ith August, the equipment was set out on a meadow to the rear of the Maltings. As well as attracting a good selection of moths, over 30 people came to the sheet including a lepidopterist from Norwich (migrant?), who had become rather bored with the goings-on in the Concert Hall! Lineage Wood, Long Melford was visited twice, nearly 90 species being recorded on one occasion which included Mormo maura Linn. Old Lady, a species not often attracted to our MV lights. A regulär contributor, Mr R. Eley of Nowton, near Bury St Edmunds, sent in some of his more interesting observations for 1984. He commented that moths seemed rather low in numbers during the early part of the season, due no doubt to the very cold nights, but that good quantities turned up later in the season. The most common moth in his garden trap during June was as usual Apamea anceps D. & S. Large Nutmeg but, surprisingly, he has only recorded the species once outside the village. Blepharita adusta Esp. Dark Brocade also turned up in good numbers during this period. Mr Eley said that during the third week of August there seemed to have been a migration from the east as he took three interesting specimens in his trap, namely an Apamea monoglypha Hufn. Dark Arches (black Continental form), Crocallis elinguaria Linn. Scalloped Oak (dark brown Continental form) and an Archanara algae Rush Wainscot (large pale form). Heliothis viriplaca Hufn. Marbled Clover was very common Aying over newly planted ground in King's Forest during the first week of July, and whilst finding fully fed larvae during September, Mr Eley noted several moths still on the wing although somewhat the worse for wear. His first local Lithophane leutieri Boisd. Blair's Shoulder-Knot ignored the trap and flew onto his kitchen window on 23rd October! The most unusual capture he made during the season was a halved gynandromorph of Noctua pronuba Linn. Large YellowUnderwing. The left side (female) had the forewing of an unmarked pale stone colour and on the right side (male) the forewing was of a blackish marbled form. A female Lithophane semibrunnea Haw. Tawny Pinion which would seem to have come out of hibernation rather early, was found crawling along Mr Eley's garden path on Boxing day. At the time of writing (8th April, 1985) she was still alive feeding on honey. Early in July, 1984 Mrs Hyde (Honorary Warden) brought me part of a plant of Sedum telephium from her STNC roadside verge reserve at Woolverstone which was being devoured by moth larvae inside a web which covered the plant. Mrs Hyde told me that all the other plants along the verge were in the same condition. Pupation soon took place and moths began to emerge towards the end of the month which I was able to identify as the 'micro' Yponomeuta vigintipunctata Retz., one of the 'small ermines'. From the literature in my possession I gathered that this moth was rather a local and uncommon species especially in Essex, (Emmet, 1981). I wrote tÜ Lt Col Emmet to see if he knew of the distribution of the moth and he kindly replied thus . . . 'Y. vigintipunctata is a local species, occurring according to Meyrick from 'Kent to Dorset and Norfolk' . . . in common with many of its close

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 21


5 relatives it is liable to be extremely common in restricted localities. Overcrowding probably leads to dispersal and Single specimens then turn up in unexpected places.' Mrs Hyde later informed me that none of the plantsfloweredin 1984, and wondered what could be done about the Situation. Lt Col Emmet again . . . 'If the Suffolk colony is so populous that it is liable to destroy its foodplant, it will obviously destroy itself as well, so the answer may be to kill most of the larvae.' This could possibly resolve the obvious conflict of interests in this matter! May I conclude by asking members to send in their moth records for Suffolk and, if anyone is a beginner but genuinely interested in moths and would like to join us on some of our recording sessions with a view to expanding their interests, please get in touch. It would be very interesting to have comprehensive coverage of the lepidoptera of our county. A large step in that direction has recently been made with the butterflies. A TRIBUTE AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS

Acknowledgements I thank Messrs C. Bloomfield, J. Digby and M. Wise for their contributions to this article and give especial thanks to Alan Hubbard for his detailed list of records including H. peltigera, Mr R. Eley for his observations from the Bury St Edmunds area and Lt Col Emmet for his information and help on Y. vigintipunctata.

References The moth nomenclature used in this article follows Bradley J. D. and Fletcher D. S. (1979) A Recorders Log Book of British Butterflies Moths. Emmet A. M. (1981). The Smaller Moths of Essex. The Essex Field Club Heath J. and Emmet A. M. (1983). The Moths and Butterflies of Grea Britain and Ireland Vol. 10. Harley Books. A. Watchman, Onchan, Back Lane, Monks Eleigh, Suffolk IP7 7BA

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 21

A tribute and notes on some Suffolk moths  

Watchman, A.

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