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NOTES AND COMMENTS ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 1988 A.

WATCHMAN

Yet another relatively poor year for moth records in the County, particularly in the total numbers of most species, although a few seemed to be more abundant than in the last few years. O n e such was the Setaceous Hebrew Character, Xestia c-nigra Linn., the second brood of which was much in evidence, especially at Otley on 2nd September, when more than thirty were attracted to a MV light. It was a rather cool, breezy evening with occasional light rain. Although during October there was a good influx of migrants into the south west of the country, there were no reports received of any occurring in Suffolk. Although the majority of moths which are normally on the wing early in the year were once again rather late, a Clouded Drab, Orthosia incerta H u f n . , at Monks Eleigh on 21st February was early for this species. Alan H u b b a r d ' s 'monopoly' of the Small Yellow Underwing, Panemeria tenebrata Scop. was broken when the author discovered some along roadside verges on 22nd May at Monks Eleigh, and on Ist June at Layham. At Market Weston Fen on 27th May two specimens of the Flame Wainscot, Senta flammea, Curt. were attracted to a M V light and this was a new species to all those present. O t h e r interesting moths there included Poplar Kitten, Furcula bifida Brahm, Grey Birch, Aethalurapunctulata D . & S. and Reed Dagger, Simyra albovenosa Goeze. One of about six 'Longhorns' was taken from Daisies growing near the man-made fishing lake at Layham, on Ist June. It was later identified as Adela rufimitrella Scop. and is thought to be the first record of this species from Vice County 26. The Walled Garden Nursery at Benhall was a more unusual venue for a mothing session on 2nd July. A male Ghost Moth, Hepialus humuli Linn, was 'swaying' over a grassy area at dusk and Small Yellow Wave, Hydrelia flammeolaria H u f n . and Marbled White Spot, Lithacodia pygarga Hufn. were among the more interesting species attracted to the MV light. T h e tall wall enclosing an area of about an acre of what was once a garden on the Benhall Estate, is very impressive and about 150 years old. Unfortunately part of it was blown down in the great storm of October, 1987. During the Society's Moth Night at Wortham Ling on 9th July, among other species, males of the Pyralid, Platytes cerussella D. & S. were attracted to the M V light. This moth is the smallest of the Crambids or 'Grass Moths'. Goater (1986) gives the distribution of this species as 'locally abundant on sandy or shingly coasts from Norfolk southwards and inland on Breckland". The highlight of a mothing session in a garden at Kirton on 15th July was a Lilac Beauty, Apeira syringaria Linn. This very attractive moth seems to be recorded rather infrequently in the County. It has been discovered that two moths in the author's collection, one found at Bromeswell Nature Reserve on the afternoon of 19th July, 1980, and the

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 25


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 25

32

other attracted to a MV light at Monks Eleigh on 20th July, 1981, are Shaded Fanfoots, Herminia tarsicrinalis Knoch. The first British specimen of this species was taken at Thorpeness in 1965 and the second near Woodbridge in 1967, (Skinner, 1984). It was also stated that no further records were forthcoming until 1982. From this it would seem that the aforementioned moths are respectively the third and fourth records for the British Isles. The moth was subsequently noted in a couple of other places. DĂźring 1988 it was discovered in yet another area. At least eight came to the MV light in the garden of D o w n h a m Reach Cottage, Nacton on 23rd July. At the m o m e n t , therefore, the Shaded Fanfoot is still exclusively a Suffolk species. On a rather cool and breezy evening at Landguard C o m m o n , on 20th August, no fewer than 42 specimens of Homo sapiens were attracted to a MV light! H o w e v e r , 19 species of moth managed to elbow their way through the throng and appear on the sheet. These stalwarts included Archer's D a r t , Agrotis vestigialis H u f n . , Straw Underwing, Thalpophila matura H u f n . and Twin-spotted Wainscot, Archanara geminipuncta Haw. While Jan and I were looking for insects at Walberswick C o m m o n on 22nd August, Jan netted a male Tortricoid moth which was later identified as Sparganothis pilleriana D. & S. O n e of the key features in the identification of this moth is its long, porrect labial palpi. It was learned later ( M . H . ) that one had been attracted to a MV light set up in the meadow overlooking Market Weston Fen on 16th July. Bradley et al. (1973) give the distribution for this species as 'Extremely local but often very common where it occurs, in Sussex, H a m p s h i r e , Isle of Wight, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Glamorgan'. Research on my part has, up to now, failed to find any sightings of it elsewhere. It would seem therefore that pilleriana becomes an addition to the Suffolk list of Lepidoptera. The Suffolk Moth G r o u p had an unusual and rather un-nerving experience while mothing at Levington Creek on 27th August. The MV light had only been on for a few minutes when the bulb shattered, showing glass Over the sheet! Luckily no one was hurt, but, when a spare bulb was brought into operation, for some reason everybody moved a little further away from the light!! Possibly the most interesting report of the year, was of the Oak Lutestring, Cymatophorima diluta D . & S. which was found to be fairly c o m m o n during the late summer/early autumn period in the woodlands at T h o r n h a m ( M . H . ) . This m o t h , usually an inhabitant of mature oak woodland, seems to be extremely local in Suffolk and recent records of it are very few and far between.

Acknowledgements Many thanks to Mike Hall for his observations

Trans. Suffolk

Nat. Soc. 25


NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 1 9 8 8

33

References 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. Bradley, J. D . , T r e m e w a n , W. G . & Smith, A. (1973). British Tortricoid Moths, Cochylidae and Tortricidae: Tortricinae. Ray Society. G o a t e r , B. (1986). British PyralidMoths. Harley Books. Skinner, B. (1984). Moths ofthe British Isles. Viking. A. Watchman, Onchan, Back Lane, Monks Eleigh, Suffolk, IP7 7BA

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 25

Notes and comments on some Suffolk moths in 1988  

Watchman, A.

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