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COMMENTS AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 1986 A. WATCHMAN

In many respects, the weather during 1986 was very similar to that of 1985, with very cold, early months, followed by what has become an almost traditional cold, damp spring. July was warm but fairly cloudy and there was an 'Indian Summer' in late September and October. However, November was mild and, for the most part, December was cold. Nevertheless, as in any other year there was much of entomological interest to enjoy, with "moth nights' held in various parts of the county, new species added to garden lists, some migrant species noted and at least one new record for Suffolk. Many of the earlier species were conspicuous by their absence until late March/early April, and a very late Clouded Drab, Orthosia incerta Hufn. was recorded at Monks Eleigh on 15th June. One of the largest and most attractive of the early moths, the Oak Beauty, Biston strataria Hufn., was noted in places as far apart as Herringfleet (H.W.B.), Ipswich (A.H.) and Monks Eleigh. The Yellow Horned, AchlyaflavicornisLinn., which rarely seems to be reported in Suffolk, but which is probably more common than this suggests, was identified at the former venue on 9th April (H.W.B.). This Situation probably applies to most of the moths which are on the wing early in the year, because there are fewer of them about and the weather is rarely conducive to travelling many miles, just to stand in the cold around a MV light. Incidentally, this also applies to those which appear as adults in November and December. However, with an increase in the number of people running a moth trap at their homes in various parts of the County, a much better picture of the distribution of these moths should emerge. Among the moths recorded from Greyfrairs Wood, Dunwich, in late May (A.G.M.) were the Rivulet, Perizoma affinitatum Steph., the Water Carpet, Lampropteryx suffumata D. & S. and the Yellow Belle, Aspitates och Rossi. On the 8th June, during a walk along the Icknield Way in the King's Forest, two species of the Incurvariidae were found. This family of 'micros' are known as 'Longhorns' due to their very long antennae, especialy of the male. The species involved were Nemophora degeerella Linn., which is fair common and relatively large with a conspicuous golden yellow fascia on each wing, and the much smaller Adelafibulella D. & S., whose wings each have a white spot. The latter appears to be thefirstrecord of this species from Vice County 26. The Small Yellow Underwing, Panemeria tenebrata Scop., was noted in yet another locality when one was seen on Red Campion in a garden at Erwarton on 4th June. (A.H.) The Marbled White Spot, Lithacodiapygarga Hufn. seems to have become more common and widespread during the last few years and in 1986 was added to the garden lists at Ipswich on 16th June (A.H.) and Monks Eleigh on 4th July. Despite a stiffish breeze Coming off the sea in the early part of the night, a Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 23


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number of moths were attracted to the MV light situated on Dunwich beach on 20th July (C.S.). These included Broom Tip, Chesias rufata Fabr., Pine Hawk, Hyloicuspinastri Linn., Bordered White, Bupaluspiniaria Linn, and Lyme Grass, Photedes elymi Treit. The Society's 'moth night' at Knettishall Heath on 26th July, attended by twelve people, was a most interesting evening with 85 species of moths Coming to the MV light. Representatives from most of the larger families of 'macros' found in the British Isles were recorded and there was the opportunity to admire some of the more attractive species. These included the impressive bright green Large Emerald, Geometra papilionaria Linn., the Rosy Footman, Miltochrista miniata Forst., with its delicate black pattern on bright pink wings, and that most gorgeous insect, the Peach Blossom, Thyatira batis Linn. The 'micros' were also well represented and included the bright green, Tortrix viridana Linn., and Catoptriapinella Linn., which has wings with bold, shining white marks on a golden brown background. The latter belongs to the Crambidae, a family known as 'grass moths'. Another member of this family which came to the sheet was Platytes alpinella Hb. This is a very local and rather uncommon moth, mostly found on coastal sandhills and shingle. Another record of this species (not previously reported) was of one at light at Monks Eleigh on 30th July, 1985. Also on 26th July, but at Dunwich, a specimen of the Saltern Ear, Amphipoea fucosa Fryer, came to an actinic light (A.G.M.). There are four species of the genus Amphipoea known from the British Isles and, where they occur together, they can usually be positively identified only by examination of their genitalia. However, in the south, one can say that we are lucky in having only two of them, the aforementioned and the Ear Moth, Amphipoea oculea Linn., and they are fairly readily separated. At the same place, a few days later, a specimen of ab. prasinaria, the rare green form of the Barred Red, Hylaea fasciaria Linn., was discovered and duly photographed (A.G.M.). The Pyralid moth, Dioryctria schuetzeella Fuchs, was recorded in Suffolk for the first time on 7th August, when a specimen came to light at Monks Eleigh. This moth was added to the British list as recently as 1980 when one was taken in Orlestone Forest, Kent. It was found in Sussex in 1981 and it has recently come to my notice that schuetzeella was taken in north west Essex during 1986. It has been bred from Norway Spruce but, although this tree is widely grown, no further localities for the moth have been recorded until now. Mention was made in my 1985 article of specimens of the Dotted Rustic, Rhyacia simulans Hufn., being found in Milden church, where one had been eaten by bats, leaving only the wings. Similarly, when visiting the small, 1 Ith Century church at Little Bradley, just north of Haverhill on 15th August I found the floor covered with bat droppings and wings of simulans. This can be explained by the fact that the Dotted Rustic aestivates. The moths emerge in June and July, fly for a short while, then spend this period of 'summer hibernation' in outhouses and other buildings and by choosing churches they fall victim of the resident bats. It would seem, therefore, that visiting churches during the summer could well be a good way of determining the

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C O M M E N T S A N D NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 1 9 8 6

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distribution of simulansl Incidentally, later in the year wings of the Dotted Rustic were discovered in cobwebs in outbuildings at Monks Eleigh Hall. So they also fall prey to spiders. As most m e m b e r s will know, 'Rosehill', F a r n h a m , was sold by auction in April, 1986, but most of the land, i.e. woodland, scrub areas and meadow was retained, and it was on the latter that the second Society 'moth night' was held, on 16th August. Prior to the mothing, I was shown around the house, and it was very nice to see how much of the interior of this attractive listed building had been restored. T h e new owners kindly allowed us access through their land to reach the meadow. Seventeen people attended this meeting and 64 moth species were recorded. These included the Black Arches, Lymantria monacha Linn., the Bulrush Wainscot, Nonagria typhae T h u n b . and the Toadflax Pug, Eupithecia linariata D . & S. O n e correspondent reported Shaded Broad-bar, Scotopteryx chenopodiata Linn, and Blood-vein, Timandra griseata Peters, which are normally night Aying species, on the wing during the day. Unlike most nocturnal species, these are two of the handful of moths which are very easily disturbed in the daytime. O t h e r s which come to mind are Silver-ground Carpet, Xanthorhoe montanata D . & S., C o m m o n Carpet, Epirrhoe alternata MĂźll, and Yellow Shell, Camptogramma bilineata Linn. There are two Pyralids which behave likewise. These are Pleuroptya ruralis Scop., c o m m o n on nettles, and Udea lutealis H u b n . , which readily flies f r o m herbage and can sometimes be seen in a b u n d a n c e , especially on Knapweeds. Several reports were received of the Humming-bird H a w k , Macroglossum stellatarum Linn., and they were seen at a variety of flowers. T h e first of the year was in a garden at Chelsworth on Ist May, the next on 27th June at Monks Eleigh, feeding on Honeysuckle, Geraniums and Verbena, and a few days later, on 30th J u n e , one was in a Leiston garden and another was on Valerian at G r o t o n . Two Martlesham gardens were graced by this species in early July where they were seen at Valerian and Sweet Williams. O n e at W e s t e r f e l d on 13th July was feeding on Honeysuckle, and at Wherstead R o a d , Ipswich, on 22nd one was on Verbena. Buddleia was the choice for one seen at D o v e r R o a d , Ipswich, on 27th August, and on the 26th September specimens were seen at Haiesworth and Sizewell, the latter on Geraniums. The last three sightings of stellatarum on 9th, lOth and 12th October were at Monks Eleigh on Nicotiana. Those reported on 27th August and lOth October were Aying in dull, wet conditions, and on the latter date it was quite breezy as well. A n o t h e r migrant species, the Pearly Underwing, Peridroma saucia H b . , was taken at M o n k s Eleigh on 29th October. Please send any moth records for 1987, to arrive no latter than the end of January, 1988. Acknowledgements Especial thanks to Messrs. H . W. Bloomfield, A. H u b b a r d , G . List and M. Parker, D r . A. G . Moss and Prof. C. C. Smith for their extensive and detailed records and thanks also to all those who sent in lesser but nevertheless important contributions.

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The moth nomenclature used in this article follows Bradley, J. D. and Fletcher,D. S. (1979) A Recorders Log Book of British Butterflies and Moths. Curwen. A. Watchman, Onchan, Back Lane, Monks Eleigh, Suffolk IP7 7BA

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Comments and notes on some Suffolk moths in 1986  

Watchman, A.

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