Page 1




In a subtropical climate palms grew on the coast with figs, sequoias and magnolias. T h e sea covered most of Suffolk and extended to northern France. After long ages, in the OLIGOCENE epoch, the sea floor rose again ; land stretched from Ireland to north Germany. Over this there wandered mammals, such as Hyopotamus and Palaotherium, in a landscape very different from any that had gone before, since, in addition to other plants of which we may name Sequoia and Osmunda, there was grass, which sheltered snails and insects and the like. It is hard to over-estimate the debt we owe to the grasses on which almost all modern animals and all mankind depend. Denudation continued its work, and much of the Oligocene land (made of Eocene material) was worn off. T h e climate grew somewhat colder as Oligocene passed into MIOCENE.—All about this time, for many millennia, the world was undergoing a seismic and volcanic revolution of such a vast and thorough-going type that mountains were crushed up all round the earth : the Alps and Himalayas are legacies of those days. Suffolk however was in a quiet area and, although on a map it would have been quite unrecognisable, there were certain similarities with the conformation today. A North Sea was formed, somewhat east of the present. There was even an Aide, a Deben, a Gipping and a Stour, which were the vague beginnings of those we know.—Finally a new subsidence occurred and the sea ran in, probably forming the ' Coprolite Bed ' at the base of the Crags with its ear bones of Whales and other remains now black and phosphatised.








IT has been suggested to me as desirable that, in view of the forthcoming detailed Catalogue of Suffolk Lepidoptera that our Society proposes to issue, I should State the facts of my " beginner's l u c k " in having possessed the sole example of Argynnis Niobe, Linn., found in Britain throughout the whole of last Century. For this purpose it is essential to wax personal: I was born in 1863 ; and in 1876 my late father, the Revd. T . H . Waller of Waldringfield near Woodbridge, sent me to King Edward vi's Grammar School in Bury St. Edmunds, then under the headmastership of the Revd. A. H . Wratislaw, M.A. (Trans, ii, p. 64), father of our present Member A. C. Wratislaw, C.B., C.M.G., etc. Occasionally the Head, who was very keen on


7 Entomology at that time, would take out in a pair-horse brake some of his boarders who had a penchant for the Natural Sciences upon his ' bug-hunting' expeditions. Thus I enjoyed the privilege at least twice, and was on the Breck heaths with him more years ago than I care to compute (Trans, ii, p. clxxxii), in 1878 I think. I can recall an earlier occasion, in or about 1877, when Mr. Wratislaw took us to Monks-park Wood, some eight miles from Bury ; in that wood I very well may have netted my A. Niobe, but my memory of that juvenile expedition is necessarily hazy and the names of even my boy-companions will not rise clearly. However, I do vividly remember that the Monks-park visit was especialy in quest of Fritillaries, and am quite sure that one bov captured a Bee-hawk Moth (Hemaris fuciformis, L.) wh he mistook for a Bumble Bee. It was solely the captures of this day that brought any Fritillaries whatever into my possession ; but I cannot now assert that I myself actually netted any of them. More likely A. Niobe feil to my lot in the course of a friendly shellout amongst us boys, the lucky captors liberally distributing among their barren pals in order that all might have some specimens, for I certainly retain recollection of such an event after the return to school that day : whether the general specimens were A. Euphrosyne, L. or A. Selene, Sf., matters little : wc t them all simply ' Pearl Borders' up to 1880. Wratislaw left Bury about the end of 1878, and I continued there until May 1881 under Mr. C. Sankey, who was not keen on Entomology, so in his time I collected only a little during the summer holidays at Waldringfield. My "schoolboy collecting was all done between 1874 and 1880 ; in 1879 I became possessed of myfirstcabinet, into which I transferred the whole of my juvenile, Wratislaw-period captures. From today is a long cry back to that cabinet and to any fact that may have gone to disprove that other Fritillaries were later placed in it, though subsequent happenings consistently tend in that direction.

Tn May 1881 my Father placed me in a London district bank, where I remained for the next nine years, residing always at Walthamstow ; I then found Epping Forest very attractive, but did no bug-hunting : during that period the cabinet lay dormant at Waldringfield old rectory. In 1890 I changed my avocation, sought on my own initiative an engineering career, and succeeded in joining a Newcastlefirm; there I had to work from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. for many years, so Entomology and engineering could not cog ' of course. But here one important possibility intervenes for, in the course of my Newcastle training, I was sent in 1893 to Pembroke dockyard concerning machinery for a cruiser, and remained nearly a year. There occasionally I explored the district and came across plenty of Parage JEgeria, Linn., in the woods





so I got a'pocket-net and resumed collecting, for I found myself in a capital locality, affording five kinds of Fritillaries including both A. Euphrosyne and A. Selene, along with other interesting insects. Thus I obtained a nice little collection of Pembroke butterflies, which were the very last I captured anywhere before 1900, and kept them in a separate store-box whence these specimens were not removed to the old cabinet at Waldringfield, or certainly not before 1902. At Pembroke I found myself near my old Master Wratislaw's haven of sojourn after he left Bury in 1878, viz. Manorbier near T e n b y ; but, on visiting that village in 1893, I learned he had not only left some four years previously but died at Southsea about 1891 : however, I was able to mentally share the delights of the old man hunting bugs on those lovely cliffs and in the woods around. I obtained my first official status in the engineering firm during 1895, and married in 1898. For a wedding present my brother, the Revd. A. P. W., gave me a good insect-cabinet; at the same time, he removed all such insects as were worth keeping from the old 1879 cabinet to this new one, and sent the latter to me at Newcastle—but, being short of A. Selene himself, he kept some of mine and placed them in his own series. It was not tili 1900, however, that he found the wondrous example of A. Niobe that is in question among some of these A. Selene, which he had transferred from my 1879 cabinet, in his own ; I was much engaged at the time, and hurriedly advised him to keep the specimen if he cared to do so. By 1921 our Newcastle firm had succeeded in Clearing up the War's scrap-heap, so I retired then and finally returned to the home village, where I have collected a good deal since that year ; but from 1900 to the present day I had never given a thought to the necromantic Niobe! My brother teils me that, while placing my series of A. Selene in his own cabinet during 1898, he had not noticed the Niobe as distinct. That year or next he took his collection to his Bridgwater living in Somerset; and there his friend Arthur Cottam later spotted the Niobe almost by accident, and took it to the British Museum for verification: but I myself did not know Cottam. Barrett fully concurred at the time in the determination of this superlatively rare immigrant (cf. EMM. 1900, pp. 41 & 89). T h e example is still extant in the collection of my younger brother, the Revd. A. P. Waller of Waldringfield Rectory, who will be delighted to show it to all and sundry interested in the matter. SUMMARY.—I feel that evidence, especially the most fortunate isolation of my Welsh captures, strongly points to Monks-park Wood as the locality of origin of our Argynnis Niobe, L. But the period of its capture is so far back in the dim past and somewhat






confused in early boyhood's memories that I cannot definitely State that I myself took the specimen ; more likely I saw it captured in 1877 by that boy who later so generously (and ingenuously!) passed it to me in sharing the day's spoil. On the other hand I retain no recollection of taking any such Fritillary elsewhere, except around Pembroke whence the specimens were always segregated. [This very beautiful Butterfly has as good a right to figure in the British List as many casual-immigrant Moths that rest upon Single examples. T h e locality, a wood of some 360 acres, has been little worked since Wratislaw's time, nigh sixty years ago ; its higher half lies on glacial gravel and is fairly light land, but the lower is boulder clay of the heaviest consistency, very marshy, fßll of alders and water-avens, at one of the River Gipping's sources. A. Niobe used to be considered British by Stewart, etc., and is described as such by Stephens in 1827. However, very few insects were labelled in those early days ; and his lack of definite data rendered the example taken by Dr. Abbot of Bedford about 1799 discredited as indigenous. Meyrick refers later records to mere forms of A. Adippe, L.—Ed.]





of Ipswich Museum.

THE purpose of this Article is to enumerate the extinct, unnoticed, new or increasing Plants of general associations occurfing in Suffolk. Several volumes of our Transactions could be occupied by a description of the limits of each species mentioned in the lists, but such would be the scope of a new Flora: so here only brief notes on its Vegetation can be attempted. Hind's ' Flora ' of the County, published six-and-forty years ago, included all localities instanced in the 1860 ' Catalogue' of HenslowSkepper and also gave additional and earlier records, new species, etc. But, by the time the Flora was compiled, many of the old habitats had long become ' tarne,' the combination of old with new records failed to plainly show both the extent of the remaining original flora of the County and the gradual waning of certain species. Moreover, several areas where rough uncultivated country always existed had not yet been explored, such as the Butley-Chillesford parishes.

On the local Niobe butterfly  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you