3 NOTES AND COMMENTS ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 1994 M. R. HALL Several recorders commented that 1994 was the worst year for moths for some considerable time. A long, cold spring seemed to merge into an equally inhospitable autumn and winter with just the briefest spell of warm, balmy nights in July. Nevertheless, this short period produced a number of migrant species with both silver Y, Autographa gamma Linn., and humming-bird hawk-moth, Macroglossum stellatarum Linn., being reported from many sites across the county. Although a few of the humming-bird hawk-moth records were for July (RE), (AW), the majority were for September and October (AC), (ME), (RE), (MissJF), (JF), (RF), (GH), (NO), (AP), (JR), (AW), and may represent home bred progeny from the earlier immigration as well as later migrants. Other migrants reported were pearly underwing, Peridroma saucia Hb., at Felixstowe (NO) and Nowton (RE), dark sword-grass, Agrotis ipsilon Hufn., also at Felixstowe (NO) and Nowton (RE), small mottled willow, Spodoptera exigua Hb., at Nowton (RE) and bordered straw, Heliothis peltigera D. & S., at Barrow (AP). As would be expected with such a poor season for moths many species were less in evidence than usual. However, the paucity of a number of species appears to be greater than can be attributed to the year and probably reflects an actual decline, although in some cases this may well be a normal cyclical Variation in population. The dotted border, Agriopis marginaria Fabr.; riband wave, Idaea aversata Linn.; nutmeg, Dicestra trifolii Hufn.; dark arches, Apamea monoglypha Hufn.; hebrew character, Orthosia gothica D. & S.; and flounced rustic, Luperina testacea D. & S., are all showing this downward trend at the moment. On the other hand a few species, notably cabbage moth, Mamestra brassicae Linn.; common carpet, Epirrhoe alternate Mull.; and particularly common wainscot, Mythimna pallens Linns., have been noted in very good numbers by several recorders across the county and probably reflect moths that are at, or near, the peak of their population cycle. Many of our specialised Breckland species, whilst never really numerous or widespread, are showing just such a population peak at the present time. The grey carpet, Lithostege griseata D. & S., was recorded from the King's Forest (RE) and at a new site in Euston (RM) during the year. The Euston site also produced tawny wave, Scopula rubiginata Hufn., marbled clover, Heliothis viriplaca Hufn., and bordered gothic, Heliophobus reticulata Goeze. These three species were recorded a few miles away at Bamham (GHt) together with the cream-spot tiger, Arctia villica britannica Ob., which was noted in "better numbers than of late" in the King's Forest (RE) and also at Woodbridge (RK) and Shottisham (AM). Another heathland moth recorded at Bamham was the deep-brown dart, Aporophyla lutelenta D.& S., which was also seen at Felixstowe (NO). An intriguing record in the list of species reported from Felixstowe was the bleached pug, Eupithecia expallidata Doubl., which is a woodland insect with the larvae feeding only on the flowers of goldenrod. Whilst this is quite a distinctive pug it bears some resemblence to the wormwood pug, Eupithecia
Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 31 (1995)
Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 31
absinthiata Cl., and as the Felixstowe specimen was not retained we shall have to wait for the next one before adding this species to the Suffolk list. The most exciting record of the year was of a least carpet, Idaea vulpinaria atrosignaria Lempke, from Levington Marina (SD). A species that is moderately common in north Kent, south Essex and the London area it has been previously recorded from Suffolk (Walberswick 1971, 1973 and 1983) but is unlikely to be breeding in the county. A predominantly southern Britain species that does regularly breed in Suffolk is the brown-tail, Euproctis chrysorrhoea Linn., which was recorded, as usual, in Felixstowe (NO), (SG), (JN), and also somewhat unexpectedly well inland at Euston (RM). Another species noted by one of the Felixstowe recorders (JN) was the small phoenix, Ecliptopera silaceata D. & S., which is not an uncommon moth. However, there are two main forms of this species; one where the central dark band across the forewing is broken given an "island" form, and the other where this central band is unbroken. Unfortunately neither of today's commonly used picture identification guides to British moths shows the unbroken band form (we have to go back to South's British Moths to find it illustrated) and its occurrence regularly gives rise to mis-identifications, frequently of the galium carpet, Epirrhoe galiata D. & S. A coastal species that is regularly recorded at Felixstowe, the feathered ranunculus, Eumichtis lichenea Hb., was also noted further inland at Ipswich (SN), and the forester, Adscita statices Linn., which although nationally scarce occurs widely on our coasts and heaths was noted during its daytime flight in King's Forest (AW). This area also produced the pauper pug, Eupithecia egenaria H.-S., (RE), as both adults and larvae, for a second year. Many of the pugs are somewhat difficult to identify as adult moths as they are small, frequently similarly marked and often worn and thus our records are sparse. One such species is the slender pug, Eupithecia temiiata Hb., which was recorded at light at Barrow (AP) but it can be found and identified much more easily by looking for the larvae. These feed, during March and early April in sallow catkins (usually male) where they pupate when fĂźll fed. By collecting these catkins the moth can be bred out in June/July or the larvae can frequently be found crawling round the inside of the Container soon after collection. Another species that is also probably under-recorded, this time because of its flight-time being late in the year, in November and early December, is the sprawler, Brachionycha sphinx Hufn., which was recorded at Barrow (AP) and in Bradfield Woods (RK). Another typical woodland species, the small white wave, Asthena albulata Hufn., was recorded in Wolves Wood (AW) in June. Although the larvae feed on hazel, which occurs widely in hedgerows and scrubby areas as well as understory in woodland, this species seems only to occur, in East Anglia, in ancient woodlands. On the other hand a species that is reputed to inhabit mature oak woodlands, the festoon, Apoda limacodes Hufn., occurs in many East Anglian heathland sites that are being invaded by scrub oaks and in 1994 was seen at Euston (RM). Another species of both woodland and heathland is the orange moth, Angerona prunaria Linn. For a species that is widely distributed and locally common in the southern half of England, with larvae feeding on a variety of trees and plants including birch, hawthorn, blackthorn, heather and traveller's-joy, it is surprising poorly recorded in Suffolk.
Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 31 (1995)
NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS. 1994
The singleton noted at Rendham (MF) on the 12th July is only the second individual that has been reported in the last few years. , The artificial spread across our heaths of such conifers as Norway Spruce and Douglas Fir has resulted in the spruce carpet, Thera britannica Turn., being ever more frequently recorded in Suffolk. This moth, with larvaefeedingon these trees and other Firs, was noted at Rendham (MF) and Woodbndge (RK) in 1994 Interestingly these records were in May and June, the first brood ot the snecies whereas it is most frequently seen during September and October when the second brood is on the wing. It is at this time of year that the juniper carpet, Thera iuniperata Linn., is also being more often recorded. It is a species that has moved into southern Britain with the increase in populanty of junipers in sardens and it was recorded at Sicklesmere (SD). With changing practices in both gardening and commercial land management different and new plant species are being brought into the county and sometimes with them come other species, including moths. If you see anything unusual or indeed moths of any sort, whether as casual observations or as the result of regulĂ¤r trapping, do send all records to the County Recorder, Arthur Watchman, Onchan, Back Lane, Monks Eleigh, Suffolk IP7 7BA, or to the Suffolk Biological Records Centre, c/o The Museum, High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH. Acknowledgements I thank those recorders whose records have helped to compile this report: Mrs. A E Cobb (AC), Stan Dumican (SD), M. C. Elliott (ME), Rafe Eley (RE), Malcolm Farrow and Annette Lea (MF), Miss J. Fourdrinier (MissJF) Jim Fester (JF), Robert FĂźller (RF), Steve Goddard (SG), Gerry Haggettt (GHt), Geoff Hayes (GH), R. C. Kendrick (RK), Ray Mitchell (RM), Audrey Morgan (AM), Jon Nicholls (JN), Steve Noye (SN), Jeffrey Rudman (JR), Nigel Odin (NO), and in particular to Arthur Watchman (AW) and Adrian Parr (AP) whose detailed comment on species and general numbers is so valuable. M. R. Hall, 'Hopefield', Norwich Road, Scole, Diss IP21 4DY. Transfer of the 'Landguard Herbarium' In the course of his 10 year investigation into the plants of Landguard Common from 1979 to 1988, Mr. Arthur Copping collected and pressed over a 100 voucher speeimens of rare, uncommon and critical species. Throughout this period he sent to me all these speeimens, as well as copies of his recording cards, for safe-keeping. However, we have since come to the conclusion that they would be more easily available to future recorders if they were to be housed in Ipswich Museum, rather than a private herbanum. They have now been transferred, together with other voucher speeimens for lmportant records from various recorders. Enid Hyde
Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 31 (1995)
co Plate 1: Humming-bird Hawk-moth, Macroglossum across the County in 1994. (p. 3).
L., reported from many sites
E 3 Q Plate 2: Least Carpet, Idaea vulpinaria atrosignaria Lempke, 'the most exciting record of the year'. (p. 4).