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87 OVERWINTERING OF THE CAMBERWELL BEAUTY IN SUFFOLK. R. G. STEWART Since the beginning of the Millennium Butterfly Survey in 1995 there have been fifty one separate records of the Camberwell Beauty Nymphalis antiopa. The thirty eight records from 1995 were all between August 3rd. and September 30th. (Stewart, 1996) as part of a migration to Britain that in terms of records even eclipsed that of 1976 (Nick Bowles, Jim Asher, pers. comm). The 1996 Suffolk total, including a very late record received in May 1997, was ten from nine separate locations. Of these, eight were recorded between August 16th and October 14th. In both years records covered fifty-eight days but in 1996 there were additionally two earlier records. The first was recorded by John Dolman in the King's Forest TL800729 on May 30th.This worn specimen was observed at test and in flight with 'edging whitish and not cream as quoted in books, main colouring blackish rather than dark brown, with no blue spots noticeable on upperwing, rather like a TV picture which has lost its colour' .The quote is from the 'Rare Butterfly' sheet completed by the recorder. A second, from Mrs. Adams in Nansen Road, Ipswich TM193428, was observed in her garden for approximately forty-five minutes in the Company of two other observers. The identification was confirmed by close examination under magnification of photos taken at the time but the actual date of the record could not be confirmed beyond late May or early June and the condition could not be ascertained from the photos. In 1997 there were no Suffolk records between August and October. This reflected the national trend as there was just one record from the Isle of Wight on September 30th. (Bowles, 1997). The three Suffolk records were as follows, all detailed on 'Rare Butterfly' forms: March 15th: Groton Wood TL978432 recorded by Steve Babbs. This flew off as the camera batteries were being changed but a photo, under enlargement, confirmed a ragged wing border and a tear in the left hind wing. March 17th: Trimley St. Mary TM276372 recorded by Mark Iley. This flew into the South-facing garden from a westerly direction and basked on sunlit lvy leaves, slowly opening and closing its wings. It was observed closely and was described as being in good to fair condition, with some rubbing and fraying ot the wing margins. This record was originally published in the bulletm ot the Amateur Entomologist's Society (Iley 1997) with the comment 'The wing margins were pale with frayed edges suggesting a genuine Immigrant. My garden is approximately two miles from the sea'. 9th April: Chillesford TM381535 recorded by Mrs. Anne Bell while riding in a pony and carriage. There was one other observer present. It was described as 'a very large purple butterfly with distinctive pale yellow edges to the wings and all the way round' It was observed just in flight with no comment on the condition.

Trans. Suffolk Not. Soc. 34 (1998)


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 34

For comparison, the national records during these two months (Nick Bowles pers. comm.) were as follows: March 8th, Northumberland; lOth, South Yorkshire; 1 Ith, Nottingham; 16th, Wye Valley and Kent; 17th, Surrey; 30th, Oxfordshire; 3Ist, Hertfordshire and Surrey. April records were on the 18th, Derbyshire; and 30th, Dorset. With the three Suffolk records this is a total of fourteen. This species has been recorded in Britain in every month of the year. (Maitland-Emmet & Heath, 1990) But Bowles (1996) suggests that British winters are too damp and cold for the female and that, despite 'a fixation with moving to new habitat, the species does not seem able to survive away from 'home' '. The preferred foodplant is willow (Salix) which is 'present in many habitats but the fact that the Camberwell Beauty does not pair until Spring, and the lack of abundant Spring records on either a local or national scale makes the establishment of a breeding colony unlikely. The paucity of local records in Spring is further emphasised by a study of all Camberwell Beauty records in Suffolk since the 1860s (Howard Mendel, pers. comm.). Only two years are involved. In 1948 Harold Jenner recorded Single specimens on March 29th and April 1 Ith, at 'The Wilderness', St. Olaves, TM464984. The other record is of 'four wings of a Camberwell Beauty,' found on the floor of a work room where they had not been the previous day. They were in good condition and most likely that the butterfly had been recently killed, 'perhaps by a mouse'. (Mendel & Piotrowski 1986: 92) The recorder was Mrs. Wells of Sibton in Spring 1985. The breeding status of the Camberwell Beauty in Britain is summarised as 'None of the earlier stages has been found in the wild in Britain' (MaitlandEmmet and Heath, 1990: 206). It should however be noted that reference was made to a specimen, recorded by Nicholas Fenwick-Hele, a well respected local naturalist, 'found clinging to a post on the Aldeburgh Park estate in 1876. It had just emerged for the wings were limp and partially expanded'. (Mendel, 1997: 285). It will be noted that several of the above records originate from close to the Suffolk coast and since the whole county is not far from the sea it must be stressed that even very early Spring records could be of migrants. In the case of the Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta, there is now sufficient recorded evidence to conclusively prove that this species does sometimes successfully overwinter in Britain (Tucker, 1997: 21). In the case of the Camberwell Beauty this has been lacking but Corke, in the recently published 'Butterflies of Essex' (1997: 123) refers to what is conclusive evidence that this species has the capacity to overwinter successfully: one was observed throughout the Winter of 1995 into 1996, in a Cambridgeshire garage. References Bowles, N. (1996). The stränge attraction of the Camberwell Beauty. Butterfly Conservation News 62: 34—35. Bowles, N. (1997). Wildlife Reports - Butterflies. British Wildlife 9: 116-118 Corke, D. (1997). The butterflies of Essex. Wimbish, Essex, Lopinga Books. Iley, M. (1997). Camberwell Beauty in Suffolk. Bulletin of the Amateur Entomologist's Society 56: 141. Maitland-Emmet, A. & Heath, J. (1990). The moths and butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland 7, Pt 1. Colchester, Harley Books. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 34 (1998)



Mendel, H. & Piotrowski, S. H. (1986). The butterflies of Suffolk. Ipswich, Suffolk Naturalists' Society. Mendel, H. (1997). Camberwell Beauty Nymphalis antiopa L.: first recorded breeding in Britain? Entomologist's Record 109: 285. Stewart, R. G. (1996). 1995 - A record year for rare butterflies in Suffolk. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 32: 6-16. Tucker M. (1997). The Red Admiral Butterfly. Dedham, British Butterfly Conservation Society. Richard Stewart (County Butterfly Recorder) Valezina 112 Westerfield Road Ipswich IP4 2XW Butterflies at Framlingham July 27th - August 4th No butterflies were seen on July 3Ist. Our observations on other dates were as follows Every day

Green-veined White Every day 28,2,3 Comma

All except 1,2

Purple Hairstreak


All except 1,2





Small Copper


Painted Lady



Every day

Large White

All except 29

Brown Argus


Small Tortoiseshell

All except 1

Meadow Brown

All except 1

Small White

Every day

Common Blue

All except 1,2

Every day



Small Skipper Holly Blue Large Skipper Red Admiral


All except 1

Observations were again made daily on walks in and around Framlingham As few Painted Ladies were reported in 1997, it was heartenmg to be able to photograph a specimen on July 28th just beyond Long Wood. Later that day a Purple Hairstreak was ßying round a roadside oak, some distance trom lts expected woodland habitats: perhaps the species can maintain populations on isolated trees. An unusual sighting of the Grayling on July• 29th was further evidence that it sometimes breaks out of its heathlands, as it did in July 1943 at Framlingham and in August 1944 at Stowmarket. Our three 1997 Brown Argus localities included a churchyard and a private garden, both conscientiously managed. Although our species count at 20 was an increase on last year s, the species-days total feil, owing mainly to sunless conditions on July 3Ist. Alasdair Aston

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 34 (1998)

Overwintering of the Camberwell Beauty in Suffolk  

Stewart, R. G.

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