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COMMENTS AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 2003 TONY PRICHARD For most moth recorders this year will go down as one of the more memorable following a period of rather mediocre years. After a rather slow start with a spring dominated by cold nights conditions improved greatly during the summer. The period of dry warm weather from June through to September proved very productive for moth recording in terms of suitable nights for moth trapping and the numbers of moths appearing at light. The year was particularly notable for the number of migrant species recorded throughout the county. The long dry summer had an adverse effect on trees and shrubs in late summer/early autumn with shrivelled leaves being a frequent sight. The full effect of this lowered quality of foodplant on any larvae trying to feed at this time of year and how it will affect subsequent adult numbers will need to wait till next year, but numbers of larvae being found at this time were particularly low in comparison with normal years. After such a fine summer moth recording for the year was rather curtailed by a poor autumn and winter. Work on surveying the scarcer moth fauna of the county started early in 2003 (or to be precise in mid-December 2002) when members of the Suffolk Moth Group were asked by Butterfly Conservation to carry out surveying for larvae of Noctua orbona (Hufnagel) Lunar Yellow Underwing in the Sandlings. This moth has in recent years undergone a severe decline in its distribution across the country and the heathlands of the Brecks were thought to be its remaining stronghold in the country with a few scattered colonies elsewhere. The larvae feed at night on warmer nights during the winter and spring on various fine-leaved grasses (Festuca, Agrostis, Deschampsia) associated with acid heathland. Surveying for larvae consists of searching in torchlight at night, when the larvae are readily detectable as they climb up and rest on dried-up grass stems. Some recent records at light seemed to indicate the possibility of populations of the moth occurring in the Sandlings area and that surveying in this area would prove worthwhile. Surveying started in midDecember 2002 and continued into April 2003 at suitable sites in Rendlesham Forest, Tunstall Forest and other heathland sites up to Minsmere and proved very successful in the main. The species was found to occur at most sites surveyed, where suitable habitat and foodplant occurred, and it would appear that the Sandlings area supports a sizeable population of the species. The large numbers of larvae found at many sites compared with the much smaller number of light trap records from the area may suggest that this species could be reluctant to come to light. Future assessment of the status of this species may be better determined using night-time searching for larvae rather than relying on light trap records that may give an imprecise assessment of its status. The larvae of Xestia rhomboidea (Esper) Square-spotted Clay have previously eluded discovery in the wild. Nationally the moth is rather restricted in its distribution having undergone a dramatic decline in its distribution with the East Anglia region seeming to be the area where the moth remains most prevalent. Records of the moth appearing at light in Suffolk show concentrations in the Breckland and Sandlings areas (the species tends to be associated with lighter soils) and locally it would appear not to be that rare Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 40 (2004)


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a species. Two articles appeared in the entomological press (Haggett, 2002) and (Waring & Field, 2002) that detailed finding larvae in the wild. The information these articles provided spurred some moth group members to attempt looking for the larvae in Suffolk. At a Suffolk Moth Group night at Kenton Hills on 16 August 2002 double figures of the adult had been recorded and this was chosen as one of the sites to look for the larvae. This is another species where the larvae feed at night in the spring and can be found by searching amongst low-growing vegetation using torchlight. A visit to the site on the 7 March proved unproductive but a second visit on the 28 March resulted in four late instar larvae being found. Three larvae were found to be feeding on nettle while a fourth was found feeding on red campion. A search in Tunstall Forest (another area where adults have been regularly recorded at light) on the 7 April did not uncover any larvae. The pug moths as a group have a reputation for being difficult to identify although Eupithecia insigniata (Hubner) Pinion-spotted Pug is one of the more distinctive and scarcer pug species. A record of this species from Tunstall Common on the 23 May 2003 at a Suffolk Moth Group meeting is only the third recent record of this species that I am aware of. As the larvae feed on hawthorn (occasionally apple) and considering that it is not too difficult a species to identify it is rather surprising that this species is not more frequently recorded. The records I have are from adults attracted to light and it does not appear to have been encountered while ‘beating’ for larvae. Is the moth really scarce or is it just poorly attracted to light? A species that appears to be rather shy of appearing in recorders’ light traps is Hypaena rostralis (L.) Buttoned Snout. This species prior to 2003 had been recently recorded from 38% of the ten kilometre squares in Suffolk. All recent records were of adults with most of these being from light traps. In the mid-1990’s some concern was expressed in the moth recording community about the status of this moth and whether its status was becoming a conservation concern due to the paucity of up-to-date records. The caterpillar of this moth can be quite easily found where it is present by beating hop, its foodplant, from early July to mid-August. Larval surveys in other southeastern counties had shown that the moth was in fact quite widespread in those counties. In 2003 several Suffolk moth recorders looked for the larvae of this moth with the intention of trying to find it in as many ten kilometre squares as possible within the county. The searches were successful and from the results it would appear that this species is quite common and widespread within the county wherever its foodplant occurs. Following the larval survey the moth has now been recorded from forty-one (73%) of the ten kilometre squares in the county either as an adult or as a larva. The clearwing moths are a group that have tended to be a more specialised area of study. The adults are rarely seen in the wild and the larvae feed internally within their foodplant. To rear most of these species through can be difficult and requires taking rather destructive action against the tree or shrub within which they are feeding, assuming you can locate a tree or shrub that contains larvae. In recent years pheromone lures have become available that can be used to attract males of most of the clearwing species. Several

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recorders have tried using these lures in the county with varying success. The following records details the successes of the more fortunate recorders; Synanthedon tipuliformis (Clerck) Currant Clearwing at Great Cornard (SR, 26 June 2003 and DU, 28 June 2003) and Little Cornard (DU, 28 June 2003), Synanthedon myopaeformis (Borkhausen) Red-belted Clearwing at Great Cornard (PB, 12 July 2003) and Barrow (AP, 21 June 2003 to 2 August 2003), Synanthedon culiciformis (L.) Large Red-belted Clearwing at Dunwich Heath (PW, 9 May 2003) and Synanthedon formicaeformis (Esper) Red-tipped Clearwing at Hengrave (AP, 29 June 2003) and Cavenham Heath (AP, 19 July 2003). Metendothenia atropunctana (Zetterstedt) is a small tortrix moth that is considered to be mainly a northern species with rather localised colonies in southern England. Recent records of this species from Suffolk would suggest that currently it is not that uncommon in the area of the Sandlings with records from Sizewell Belts (SMG, 10 May 2002), Walberswick (SMG, 3 August 2001), Tunstall (SMG, 18 August 2001), Dunwich Heath (SMG, 26 May 2001), Tunstall Forest (DY, 2001), Tangham Forest (4 May 2003 & 23 August 2003) and Dunwich Forest (SMG, 6 August 2003). The larva feeds on birch and it would seem that the moth could be encountered on any of the Sandling heaths. A further record of the tortrix moth Spatalistis bifasciana (Hubner) was received from Landguard (NO) when it turned up at light on the 4 June 2003 following its initial discovery in the county in 2002. A second record for the county of Pseudotelphusa scalella (Scop.) was made at Great Martins Wood on the 6 June 2003 at a Suffolk Moth Group meeting and this, similarly, was a new vice-county species in the preceding year. Furcula bifida (Brahm) Poplar Kitten is a species that appears to be having an upsurge in numbers at the moment. On the 9 May 2003 at a moth night held by the moth group at West Stow Country Park two individuals were attracted to a single trap. Conditions in the area of the moth trap were particularly cold so it was surprising that two of the species appeared in the one trap and it may be coincidence that they were a male and a female. Other records for this species from the last ten years that I have received include; Clare (SMG, 14 June 2002), Nowton (RE, 2002), Sicklesmere (SD, 2001), Flatford (JN, 2000), Wolves Wood (SMG, 31 May 1999), Reydon (AC, 1999), Westleton (BS, July 1998), Northfield Wood (JW, 1997) and Elveden (MT, June 1996). A closely related species, Furcula bicuspis (Borkhausen) Alder Kitten, seems to cause occasional identification problems for recorders in the county with occasional records of this species being received. The available identification guides give some clear identification features to distinguish these species and if any recorders think that they may have this species it would be very advisable to have the identification confirmed. A further species that seems to cause identification problems is Photedes captiuncula (Treitschke) Least Minor as it is similar to smaller individuals of the more common Mesoligia furuncula (D. & S.) Cloaked Minor. The Least Minor is considered to have a northerly distribution within the country and a record of this species in Suffolk would be a significant finding, in view of this recorders are therefore urged to retain any specimen for verification that they determine to be this species.

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The Suffolk Moth Group make regular visits to the RSPB reserve at Minsmere and in 2003 the group was involved in carrying out some recording at an extensive area of fen on the reserve that appears to be a previously unrecorded area. Two visits were made to the fen on 4 July and 2nd August 2003 and lights were placed out on the fen and adjoining heathland on both occasions. Although initially only one visit had been planned on visiting the site it was decided to make a further visit to look for Archanara neurica (Hubner) White-mantled Wainscot. At the first visit on the 4 July species of note included Epinotia cruciana (L.), Calamotropha paludella (Hubner), Phlyctaenia perlucidalis (Hubner), Nascia cilialis (Hubner), Eupithecia valerianata (Hubner) Valerian Pug, Noctua orbona (Hufnagel) Lunar Yellow Underwing, Graphipora augur (Fab.) Double Dart, Coenobia rufa (Haworth) Small Rufous, Earias clorana (L.) Cream-bordered Green Pea, Lygephila pastinum (Treitschke) Blackneck, Herminia tarsicrinalis (Knoch) Shaded Fanfoot and Macrochilo cribrumalis (Hubner) Dotted Fan-foot. The second visit proved equally productive in recording some infrequently recorded species, Prochoreutis sehestediana (Fab.) a new species to the vice-county, Ptycholomoides aeriferanus (Herrich-Schaffer), Orthonama vittata (Borkhausen) Oblique Carpet, Simyra albovenosa (Goeze) Reed Dagger, Chortodes brevilinea (Fenn) Fenn’s Wainscot, Archanara sparganii (Esper) Webb’s Wainscot and Schrankia costaestrigalis (Stephens) Pinion-streaked Snout. No White-mantled Wainscot were recorded despite the habitat looking suitable for the species. Two previously rather localised pyralid moths appear to be faring well at the moment. Nascia cilialis (Hubner) feeds as a larva on Cladium mariscus saw sedge, Carex riparia greater pond-sedge and other species of Carex and is associated with fen habitats. Prior to 1976 it had been recorded from East Suffolk (VC 25) (Parsons, 1993) but since then it has been recorded from both Suffolk vice-counties and now appears to be present at most of the larger areas of fen habitat in the county; the fens of the Brecks, along the Waveney river and the coastal reed-beds between Walberswick and Aldeburgh. Occasional records have also been made in Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 11 June 2003), Framlingham (PH, 26 June 1993), Rendham (MD, 29 June 2003), Long Melford (DU, 26 June 2001), Monks Eleigh (AW, 1987 to 1998). Phlyctaenia perlucidalis (Hubner) prior to 1995 was known from only a few sites with a potential association with fen habitats. Since 1995 the numbers of records have increased substantially and it would appear reasonable that this species could be recorded from most areas of the county. Little is known of the earlier stages of this species but the majority of adults are recorded at light during June and July. Records from 2003 of some recent arrivals in the county give an indication of their continuing establishment within the county. Aporophyla nigra (Haworth), Black Rustic, was recorded from the following sites in 2003; Great Martins Wood (SMG, 26 September 2003), Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 30 September 2003), Grundisburgh (MH, 9 October 2003) and Tunstall (PW, 14 October 2003). Although this moth appears to have been recorded from well separated parts of the county it would still appear to be quite localised in its

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distribution. The discovery of a new species, Argyresthia cupressella Walsingham, in Suffolk was published in (Agassiz & Tuck, 1997) and mentioned in the moth notes for 2001 (Prichard, 2002). Since then this species appears to have become well established in the county and it appears particularly profuse in the Ipswich area with reports of more than a thousand individuals in a single trap. In 2002 it was recorded from the following sites; Ipswich Golf Course (NS), Great Cornard (SR), Ipswich (TP), Long Melford (DU), Thurston (PB), Rendham (MD) and Needham Market (TP). Further new sites were reported in 2003 with moth trap records from Martlesham Heath (SG), Eye (PK) and Bentley (SMG). Barnhamcross Common is an area of Breck grassland on the southern outskirts of Thetford that supports some significant species of lepidoptera. As the site is under threat of development the county moth group continued to make several visits to this site during the year to gain further information on the moth fauna of the site. As well as recording the expected Breckland specialities of Lithostege griseata (D. & S.) Grey Carpet and Scopula rubiginata (Hufnagel) Tawny Wave other species of note recorded in 2003 included Adscites statices (L.) Forester, Sitochroa veritcalis (L.), Phibalaptery virgata (Hufnagel) Oblique Striped, Eilema sororcula (Hufnagel) Orange Footman, Arctia villica (L.) Cream-spot Tiger and Diacrisia sannio (L.) Clouded Buff. Possibly of more interest was a further record of the localised Phtheochroa sodaliana (Haworth) on the 7 June 2003 at a SMG moth night following a first site record on the 15 June 2002 (SBBC). The arrival of Duponchelia fovealis Zeller in Suffolk was reported in (Prichard, 2003). Previous records for this species in the country have mainly been made indoors, so it was of interest when in 2003 there were two outdoor records on the same night (20 September 2003) at two coastal sites. One of the records was made by Alan Cornish at Reydon while another record of an individual was made by the SMG at Aldeburgh/Thorpeness. Presumably, given the location and timing of both of these records, these individuals were migrants. The discovery of the occurrence of Dioryctria sylvestrella (Ratzeburg) in the county was described in (Prichard, 2002) and since then a number of records have been received for this species that show the species to be well established in the Brecks and Sandlings. In 2002 further records were made at Tunstall Forest (DY), Kenton Hills (SMG, 16 August) in the east of the county and in the Breckland area records were made at Chalk Lane, Kings Forest (SMG, 6 September), Elveden (HB & BS, July and August ). In 2003 the species was recorded at Elveden (HB, June), Brandon (GA, 16 July), Aldringham (SMG, 19 July), Ipswich Golf Course (NS, July and August), Sibton (NS, 23 July), Dunwich Forest (SMG, 6 August), Westleton Heath (GB & TP, 20 August) and Tangham Forest (SMG, 23 August). The recording of leaf-mining moths produced some records of note in 2003. In the north-west of the county in the vicinity of Stallode a new vicecounty record was made when several Emmetia angusticolella (Duponchel) mines were recorded from dog-rose by TP on 3 October 2003. At the same site mines of the rather localised Stigmella sorbi (Stainton) were also found on

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rowan. Two records of Pseudopostega crepusculella (Zeller) were made in 2003 at Fakenham (TP, 21 June 2003) and Thornham (PK, 7 July 2003), although a leaf-mining species these were both records of the adult attracted to light. Other infrequently recorded species for 2003 included; Heliozela hammoniella (Sorhagen) at Purdis Heath (TP, 5 September 2003, a mine on birch) and Elachista atricomella Stainton at light near Elveden (BS & HB, May 2003). This year was particularly notable for the large number of migrant records made throughout the county, although as is usual most migrant records were made at coastal sites. The following lists the more unusual migrant records for the year starting with some new species to the county; Actinotia hyperici (D. & S.) Pale-shouldered Cloud at Landguard (NO, 7 May 2003 & 4 June 2003), Aplasta ononaria (Fuessly) Rest Harrow at Orfordness (JA, 9 August 2003), Cryphia algae (Fab.) Tree-lichen Beauty recorded six times at Landguard (NO, 11 July 2003 to 7 August 2003) and Cryphia raptricula (D. & S.) Marbled Grey at Landguard (NO, 21 July 2003). Other migrant records of note included Chrysodeixis chalcites (Esper) Golden Twin-spot at Landguard (NO, singles on 20 August and 3 October 2003), Lymantria dispar (L.) Gypsy Moth at Landguard (NO, 17 July 2003), Xylena exsoleta (L.) Sword-grass at Reydon (AC, 20 September 2003), Hyles euphorbiae (L.) Spurge Hawk-moth at Landguard (NO, 26 and 27 June 2003), Hyles livornica (Esper) Striped Hawkmoth (SMG, Aldeburgh-Thorpeness, 28 June 2003, see Plate 9)) and Spodoptera exigua (Hubner) Small Mottled Willow from Thornham, (PK, 18 September 2003), Walberswick (TF, 11 August 2003), Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 17 September 2003), Nowton (RE, 2003), Dunwich (MC, 30 June 2003), Landguard (NO, 24 June to 3 October 2003) and Orfordness (JA, 2003). Macroglossum stellatarum (L.) Humming-bird Hawk-moth had a ‘very good year’ and was seen in all parts of the county. Richard Stewart in Ipswich recorded the moth in his garden from the 11 June to the 1 October, nectaring on a variety of plants; valerian, verbena, buddleia and petunia. Paul Kitchener also had a record of Atolmis rubricollis (L.) Red-necked Footman at Thornham on 7 July 2003, that is presumably a migrant but it is worth considering that there may be small resident populations of this moth in the county following a recent small increase in the number of records of this species. Please continue to send your moth records and any observations to myself as county moth recorder; Tony Prichard. 3 Powling Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP3 9JR (email: tony.prichard@btinternet.com) or the Suffolk Biological Records Centre, The Museum, High Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 3QH.

Acknowledgements I would like to thank moth recorders who have submitted records during the year, not only those whose records and comments are mentioned here: Jim Askins (JA), Graham Austin (GA), Harry Beaumont (HB), Paul Bryant (PB), Graham Bull (GB), Alan Cornish (AC), Mark Cornish (MC), Matthew Deans (MD), Stan Dumican (SD), Rafe Eley (RE), Tim Freed (TF), Steve Goddard (SG), Peter Hall (PH), John Nicholls (JN), Nigel Odin (NO), Stuart Read (SR),

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Neil Sherman (NS), Brian Statham (BS), Richard Stewart (RS), Suffolk Branch of Butterfly Conservation (SBBC), Suffolk Moth Group (SMG), Mark Tunmore (MT), John Walshe (JW), Arthur Watchman (AW), Darren Underwood (DU), Phil Wilkins (PW) and David Young (DY).

A. W. Prichard

References Agassiz, D. J. L. & Tuck, K. R. (1999). The Cypress Tip moth Argyresthia cupressella. Walshingham, 1890 (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae) new to Britain. Entomologist’s Gazette 50: 11–16. Haggett, G. M. (2002). Square-spotted Clay Xestia rhomboidea (Esp.): Its larva and status. Atropos 17: 41–44. Parsons, M. S. (1993). A review of the scarce and threatened pyralid moths of Great Britain. JNCC. Prichard, A. W. (2001). Comments and Notes on some Suffolk Moths in 2000. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 37: 83–88. Prichard, A. W. (2002). Comments and Notes on some Suffolk Moths in 2001. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 38: 129–135. Prichard, A. W. (2003). Comment and Notes on some Suffolk Moths in 2002. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 39: 29–35. Waring, P. & Field, R. (2002). Square-spotted Clay Xestia rhomboidea (Esp.) : Discovery of wild larvae in Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Atropos 17: 37–41. Tony Prichard (TP) 3 Powling Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP3 9JR

Plate 9: Striped Hawk Moth, Hyles livornica (Esper) at Aldeburgh, 28 June 2003 (p. 98).

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 40 (2004)

COMMENTS AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 2003  

Tony Prichard

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