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NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 1985 A.

WATCHMAN

The weather in Suffolk during 1985 excelled itself, breaking records left, right and centre! In January we experienced some of the lowest temperatures ever recorded and February gave us snow and gale force winds, with the inevitable blocked roads. March and April were changeable months, setting the scene for a persistently unsettled weather pattern which continued until early September. There were many mild days in April but the Spring was wetter and colder than normal and June was one of the wettest of the Century in many areas. It was also the coldest June on record. There were many warm days during the next two months but also a lot of rain. By contrast, September and October were warm and mostly dry. November therefore came as a shock, being one of the coldest of the Century. December was notable for its mildness and absence of frost for the most part, but the year ended rather cold, after gales and heavy rain at Christmas. It is not surprising therefore that, in general, moths were down in numbers, both of species and quantity. This seemed to be the case whenever the adults appeared throughout the year. Nevertheless, many interesting observations were made and mothing sessions held in the County, some of which are mentioned below. With regard to migrant species, a Humming-bird Hawk, Macroglossum stellatarum Linn, was seen at Aubretia spp. in a Monks Eleigh garden on 19th April. This moth was probably part of the notable immigration of Lepidoptera into the United Kingdom at this time, when a few of this species were noted, although the main species involved were the Striped Hawk moth, Hyles lineata livornica Esp. and Painted Lady butterfly, Cynthia cardui Linn., I have heard of sightings of the latter in Suffolk but, alas, none of the former. Another specimen of M. stellatarum was seen on 14th July, on Vegetation adjacent to Benacre Pits. (AH). Few of the early species appeared until the end of February, when a Tawny Pinion, Lithophane semibrunnea Haw. also came to light at Monks Eleigh. This is one of the few British species which overwinters as an adult; another specimen was seen at the same venue in mid-October. A moth in the same genus, the Grey Shoulder-Knot, Lithophane ornitopus lactipennis Dadd was noted in Ipswich on 23rd March (AH), in King's Forest on 15th April (CS) and at Monks Eleigh on 16th and 21st October. Two males of the Small Brindled Beauty, Apocheima hispidaria D. and S. came to light in the West Stow area of the King's Forest on 31st March (CS). This essentially woodland/parkland species is 'local' in this country but can be common where it occurs, mostly in southern England. At the same venue on 15th April the Water Carpet, Lampropteryx suffumata D. and S. and the Early Tooth-striped, Trichopteryx carpinata Borkh. were reported as 'common' (CS). On the following day a specimen of the grey form, ab. griseovariegata of the Pine Beauty, Panolis flammea D. & S. was taken at light in Ipswich (AH).

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 22


NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 1 9 8 5

65

The Buttoned Snout, Hypena rostralis Linn, which over the last few years has been seen in increasing numbers at Monks Eleigh, was also noted in 1985 at Sycamore Farm, Swilland on 25th May and two days later at a light in an Ipswich garden (AH). At Ipswich a Lime Hawk, Mimas tiliae Linn, and a number of the Least Black Arches, Nola confusalis H. - S. were also recorded. The latter species was also common in the King's Forest on 25th May (CS), when a female False Mocha, Cyclophoraporata Linn, was taken, which laid eggs, from which imagines were reared in late June. Other interesting sightings during May included a Great Prominent, Peridea anceps Goeze and Red-green Carpet, Chloroclysta siterata Hufn., both in the King's Forest (CS). The former was 'common', as was the new brood of the latter in early September. As in previous years, the Broad-bordered Bee Hawk, Hemaris fuciformis Linn, was in evidence on the STNS nature reserve at Bromeswell (AH), one on 26th May and another on 22nd June. Also on the latter date a specimen of that very attractive 'micro', Alabonia geoffrella Linn, was seen there. Specimens of the Alder moth, Acronicta alni Linn, were seen during June, at a light in Monks Eleigh on the 4th and in Ipswich on 17th (AH). A larva of this species was found in Ladygate Wood, Haverhill in late August (SC), an area very much neglected in the literature, according to my informant! On the 25th June a Small Yellow Underwing, Panemeria tenebrata Scop. was Aying in a grazing meadow at Walsham-le-Willows (AH). There was also a 1984 record, not previously mentioned, of three or four of this species Aying in a meadow at Washbrook on 12th June (AH). This small moth Aies actively in the sunshine and visits Aowers such as Buttercups. There seem to be very few records of this moth from Suffolk (Heath & Emmet, 1983), although Morley (1937) suggests that in his time it was probably overlooked. Let us hope that this is still the case, even though we have lost a great many of our meadows to the plough or they have been 'improved' by spraying. The above records suggest that they are still waiting to be discovered. July and August are the months when one expects to see the largest number of moth species, and some of the many sightings are mentioned below: The Society's moth night at Icklingham on 13th July was excellent. Although there was some rain just after the Start, it then remained dry and was very warm and humid. These are ideal conditions for mothing and we were not disappointed with at least 121 species Coming to the sheet. These included the Royal Mantle, Catarhoe cuculata Hufn., the Wormwood, Cucullia absinthii Linn., the Heart and Club, Agrotis clavis Hufn., the Lunar Yellow Underwing, Noctua orbona Hufn., the White Colon, Sideridis albicolon Hb. and that Breckland speciality the Grey Carpet, Lithostege griseata D. & S. During the afternoon a 'micro' was taken at Lakenheath Warren (HM & SP), which was later identified as Nemophora fasciella Fabr., one of the 'longhorns' and the first record of this species from Vice County 26. Unfortunately the second Society moth night arranged for 27th July, at Lower Hollesley Common, did not take place due to an evening of heavy rain after a mostly sunny day.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 22


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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 22

The Dotted Rustic, Rhyacia simulans Hufn. seems to be increasing in the Monks Eleigh area as well as elsewhere in the County. On 24th July a number were disturbed from a Hornbeam hedge in a garden at Monks Eleigh Tye, and on 1 Ith August some were found inside Milden Church, where a wing was also found, suggesting that Bats too are in residence. A local and on the whole uncommon species, the Ruddy Carpet, Catarhoe rubidata D. & S. came to light at Monks Eleigh on 31st July. At Cornard Mere reserve on 9th August among the 31 species of moth attracted to the sheet were various forms of the Crescent, Celaena leucostigma Hb. A moth taken at light in a Raydon garden on 19th August was not immediately recognised but was found to be the melanic form of the Tawny-barred Angle,Semiothisa liturata Cl. A species new to the author, the Square-spotted Clay, Xestia rhomboidea Esp. was taken at light on the old airfield at Flixton on 22nd August. Then, true to you-know-who's law, another was Seen at Hollesley Common a few days later! It was also noted in the King's Forest during August (CS). Other interesting species there during July/August included the Clouded M&g-p\e.,Abraxassylvata Scop., the Satin Beauty, Deileptenia ribeataCl.Ahe Slender Brindle, Apamea scolopacina Esp. and the Grey Arches, Polia nebulosa Hufn. (CS). At Ipswich during the same period the Varied Coronet, Hadena comptaD. & S. and the White Satin, Leucoma salicis Linn, were much in evidence (AH). L. salicis has become much more common in Suffolk during the last few years, as it has in other counties. Also in Ipswich a Pale Eggar, Trichiura crataegi Linn, was taken at a light on 6th September (AH). This species was Seen regularly at Monks Eleigh until 1981 but has not been seen there since. A moth night for the Ipswich & District Natural History Society was held at Monks Eleigh on 7th September, and during a conversation on methods used to attract moths, I rashly mentioned to some keen members that 'sugaring' was often used. They duly made up some 'sugar' (black treacle, stale beer, etc., boiled up) and later informed me that they now had a sticky kitchen, a sticky garden and shed and a rather sticky neighbour's cat. (BJ & PJ). Thank goodness the mix attracted some moths! On 30th September a specimen of that beautiful green and black moth the Merveille du Jour, Dichonia aprilina Linn, came to a light in Ipswich (AH). This moth is more often encountered in the west of the County. Blair's Shoulder-Knot, Lithophane leautieri Boisd. continues to spread and has at last been noted in Ipswich, where Single specimens came to a light on 3rd October and 8th November, the latter specimen being rather dark in colour (AH). The Plumed Prominent, Ptilophora plumigera D. & S. which has been known from Barking woods since 1937 and was first recorded at Monks Eleigh in 1977, turned up at Bulls Cross Wood, Groton in December, where some were attracted to kitchen lights. A number of moth species were noticeably later on the wing than usual during 1985, and included a Maple Prominent, Ptilodontella cucullina D. & S. in late August, a Black Arches, Lymantria monacha Linn, in late September, both noted in the King's Forest (CS), and at Monks Eleigh a


67 Yellow Shell, Camptogramma bilineata Linn, in late September, and a Bloodvein, Timandragriseata Peters, in very good condition in the latter part of October. Further to the notes in the Society's 1985 Transactions concerning Yponomeuta vigintipunctata Retz. on Sedum telcphium at Woolverston Hyde informs me that none were seen on the plants in 1985, which had flowered well. She also assures me that nothing was done to 'discourage' the moths! Plants of S. telephium growing in her garden, about half a mile away, were eaten by the larvae but they were not on Sedum spectabile growing nearby. At the beginning of the year the Colour Identification Guide to Moths o British Isles by Bernard Skinner, was published by Viking. This book will surely be the Standard reference work for the identification of 'macros' for many years to come. It not only contains excellent colour plates, but also numerous line diagrams showing the important features to look for when separating the more difficult species. Its large size makes it more cumbersome to use in thefieldthan The Moths of the British Isles by Richard South (published by Frederick Warne, London), but the plates and diagrams are far more useful and the text contains considerably less extraneous matter. Later in the year the long awaited Volume 2 of The Moths and Butterflie of Great Britain and Ireland arrived from Harley Books. This is a 'mixed volume containing 'macros' such as the Zyaenidae (Burnets) and Sesiidae (Clearwings) as well as families of 'micros' such as the Tineidae and Gracillariidae. Another important work is to be published in 1986, by Harley Books, namely The British Pyralidae - a Guide to their identification by Goater. This family contains most of the 'larger micros'. In conclusion, I would ask members once again to send in their moth records for the County, and anyone who would like to attend a mothing session and who has difficulty in getting to the advertised venue, please get in touch. The Suffolk Moth Group may be able to get to your 'patch' and by so doing improve our knowledge of some of the less visited areas. NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN I985

Acknowledgements I thank Mrs S. Cass, Mrs E. Hyde, Mrs B. Johnson, Miss V. Sheldrake, Messrs. H. Bloomfield, P. Johnson, H. Mendel, C. Naunton and S. Piotrowski for their records and/or contributions to this article and give especial thanks to Alan Hubbard for his detailed list of records from Ipswich, Bromeswell etc. and Prof. Colin Smith for his comprehensive list of species seen in the King's Forest.

The moth nomenclature used in this article follows Bradley J. D. and Fletcher D. S. (1979). A Recorders Log Book of British Butterflies a Moths. Curwen.


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References Heath, J. and E m m e t , A. M. (1983). The Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol. 10. Harley Books. Morley, C. (1937). The Lepidoptera of Suffolk. Suffolk Naturalists' Society. A. Watchman Onchan, Back Lane, Monks Eleigh, Suffolk IP7 7BA

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Notes on some Suffolk moths in 1985  

Watchman, A.

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