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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 45

COMMENTS AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 2008 A. W. PRICHARD Before considering the moth recording season of 2008 there are a couple of records from 2007 not yet listed in the Society’s Transactions that it would be rather amiss to omit. Both of these records are for species new to Britain recorded first in Suffolk. The first species was the tortrix Cymolomia hartigiana (Saxesen) caught at MV light at Bawdsey on 17 July 2007 (MD), with the identification confirmed by Jon Clifton using genitalia determination. On the Continent this species feeds on Silver Fir Abies alba and Norway Spruce Picea abies and the adult moth is on the wing from June to early August. This particular individual is likely to be of migrant origin although there is always the possibility it is a recent colonist. The second species, Nemapogon falstriella (Haas), was recorded as an adult at Ipswich Golf Course on 8 August 2007 (Sherman & Clifton, 2009, Plate 14). After an initial tentative identification of Psychoides filicivora (Meyrick) Jon Clifton examined the genitalia and consulted the Natural History Museum, where it was determined by Martin Honey and Gaden Robinson to be N. falstriella. This is a rarely recorded species in Europe and its life history is little known although related species feed as larvae on fungi and stored foodstuffs. The exact origin of this individual remains a mystery as there is no evidence to suggest that it arrived with any imported material. Overall, the recording season for 2008 seems to have been rather mixed based on the reports I have received from recorders within the county – some reported good results while others reported a very poor year. Most of the early season through to early summer was a mixture of cold or wet nights and general results were well below average. Conditions for recording improved for most of July and August, but the summer recording season ended rather abruptly when September started with a run of cold wet nights. A rather unexpected addition to the county list was Trifurcula squamatella Stainton, a rare and quite elusive species over its known distribution in Britain and Europe. The moth was found as part of a series of moths from Martlesham Heath caught by SG and dissected by JC. This individual was caught on the night of 28 August. The biology of this species is not well understood (Nieukerken, van, 1987), it has been found as an adult around Broom Cytisus scoparius but the larvae have yet to be found on the plant. The closely related and similar looking Trifurcula immundella (Zeller) is a relatively common leaf-miner of Broom that as a larva forms mines in the ends of the stems. It appears that T. squamatella must feed in some other part of the plant as mines in the ends of stems collected do not yield T. squamatella. I understand that since the determination of this record other Suffolk specimens of Trifurcula from the east Ipswich area have been re-determined as T. squamatella but details of these records have not been made available to me. Two other new microlepidoptera species to the county were recorded from the nearby Ipswich Golf Course during 2008. These were initially recorded and identified by NS, with later confirmation of the determination carried out by genitalia examination by JC. The first of the species is Ectoedemia atrifrontella (Stainton) on 28 August, recorded as an adult at light. This small

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moth feeds as a larva in the bark of oak twigs but the mine has yet to be found in the county, despite some searching for this species while leaf-miner recording. The other new county species was Coleophora galbulipennella Zeller on 31 July. The larva of this species are known to feed on Nottingham Catchfly Silene nutans on the Kent coast and on the continent also on Spanish Catchfly S. otites, the latter occurring in Breckland. These two plants are not known to occur in the area where the adult moth was recorded so the moth is likely to be a vagrant. It is possible that this species awaits discovery in Breckland, although cursory searches to date have proved negative. There were a number of other micro-lepidoptera records of interest from 2008 – from Ipswich Golf Course (NS) Nemapogon wolffiella Karsholt & Nielsen on 2 June, Gelechia muscosella Zeller on 14 July, Coleophora deauratella Lienig & Zeller on 15 July, Dystebenna stephensi (Stainton) on 29 July, Agonopterix conterminella (Zeller) on 6 August – from Eye (PK) Cosmiotes consortella (Stainton) on 28 August, Phyllonorycter strigulatella (Lienig & Zeller) on 4 August, Epinotia signatana (Douglas) on 10 July and finally Coleophora adspersella Benander from Iken on 29 June (PK). Visits in recent years to Elveden Center Parcs by the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Entomological Society have yielded some interesting moth records. Their visit in August 2008 on the 6th and 7th again proved fruitful and a couple of the more interesting records were Tissue Triphosa dubitata (L.) on the 6 August and a record of the Oak Lutestring Cymatophorima diluta (D. & S.) on the 7 August. Previous records of the Tissue Triphosa dubitata (L.) in Suffolk have been limited to the south-east part of the county, which is surprising given that the moth’s foodplants are Buckthorn Rhamnus catharticus and Alder Buckthorn Frangula alnus. The Oak Lutestring in recent years has only been known in Suffolk from Thornham Parva and this record from Elveden gives hope that other populations of the moth await discovery elsewhere in the county, although recent surveys for the species in what appear to have been likely areas have not been successful. A record of Map-winged Swift Hepialus fusconebulosa (DeGeer) from Elveden was submitted in 2002 (BS) but was deemed to be in need of some confirmation. A further confirmed record of this species was received when it was recorded on the 7 August (GF) this year. Other species recorded during the visit included Satin Beauty Deileptenia ribeata (Clerck), Barred Rivulet Perizoma bifaciata, (Haworth), a further record of Assara terebrella (Zincken) and Ptycholomoides aeriferanus (H.-S.), all recorded on 7 August. The field meetings programme of the Suffolk Moth Group suffered in 2008 as bad weather coincided with many of the weekends when events were planned and led to a number of cancellations. The meeting at Lakenheath Fen on 25 July was one of the better moth nights with numbers of species and individuals attracted to the lights approaching what one would expect for the time of year. The highlights of the evening were the hundreds of White Satin Leucoma salicis (L.) coming to lights and the large number of Olive Ipimorpha subtusa (D. & S.), both of these species are usually seen in low numbers where they occur. The meeting the following week at North Warren RSPB Reserve was even more successful with nearly 170 species recorded.

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As well as a good selection of species that were expected – White-mantled Wainscot Archanara neurica (Hübner), Reed Dagger Simyra albovenosa (Goeze), Kent Black Arches Meganola albula (D. & S.), Dark Spectacle Abrostola triplasia (L.) and Small Rufous Coenobia rufa (Haw.) there were some more unexpected species – Oblique Carpet Orthonama vittata, (Borkhausen), Gelechia sororculella (Hübner), Aethes francillana (Fab.) and the migrant Cydia amplana (Hübner). The status of Rush Wainscot Archanara algae (Esper) in the county is rather a mystery. It occurs in the fens of neighbouring Norfolk and Cambridgeshire and suitable habitat appears to exist in the county but there are only three confirmed records of this species. One of these is from Reydon on 15 August 2003 (AC). The other two records are from Nowton in 1985 and 2008 (RE) and RE mentions that there is apparently suitable habitat and foodplant nearby so a local population could exist. Larval searches in areas of suitable habitat may be a more reliable way of detecting the presence of this species. The leaf-miner Phyllocnistis xenia Hering was first recorded in Suffolk several years ago. Its arrival in the county has not been mentioned in any of the annual moth reports to date so a brief summary of the existing records will give a picture of its current county status. The larva feeds in the leaves of White Poplar Populus alba and Grey Poplar Populus canescens and, like most leaf-miner species, it is most often recorded from its mine. The mine is silvery track, usually on the upper surface, following a tortuous path over the leaf and looks rather like a slime trail left by a snail (Plate 15). The mine differs from the similar P. unipunctella (Stephens) in having a dark frass line running down the middle of the silvery track. The earliest county record of the species is from Felixstowe on 20 September 2001 (TP). Since then it has been found at various sites in south-east Suffolk – Trimley St Martin on 7 September (J Higgott per Langmaid & Young, 2004), Ipswich Golf Course on 10 September 2004 (NS), Bawdsey on 19 September 2004 (TP), Coddenham on 2 October 2004 (TP), Ufford on 30 October 2006 (JRL & J Higgott), Newbourne Springs on 1 September 2007 (TP) and Landguard Common during September 2008 (NO). Some of the ‘thorns’ appear to have declined in recent years based on reports from local moth recorders. September Thorn Ennomos erosaria (D. & S.) is generally thought of as a common moth across the country but this appears not to be the case in East Anglia. Morley (Morley, 1937) commented that it was a ‘scarce, but widespread’ species so it is likely that it has never been a really common moth in the county. Records from the last few years include Dunwich Heath on 7 August (MC), Nowton in 2006 (RE), Wangford on 6 September 2007 (SP) and Thornham Parva on 30 July 2008 (PK). August Thorn Ennomos quercinaria (Hufn.) is a similarly scarce species in Suffolk, both historically and currently. Nationally this species has a more localised distribution than September Thorn, but in Suffolk, August Thorn appears the more frequent of the two and in most years a few records are made. In 2008 it was recorded from Elveden (SD) and from Eye on 16 August (PK). Lunar Thorn Selenia lunularia (Hübner) is the rarest of our resident thorns and in the last ten years has only been recorded once, at Tunstall on 14 July 2003 (PW).

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The Large Thorn Ennomos autumnaria (Werneburg), a generally scarce species in the county, is unusual amongst the ‘thorns’ in that a proportion of the records are thought to be of migrant origin. This was exemplified in 2008 when it was recorded at Eye on 30 August (PK) and Nowton (RE) while at Bawdsey on the coast it was recorded on fourteen nights between 26 August and 24 September. The ‘sallows’ are some of the more colourful species that brighten up the moth trap in autumn when the colours of summer are starting to fade. Most of the group are reasonably common and widespread across the county, however there are two species that are less frequently encountered. Dusky-lemon Sallow Xanthia gilvago (D. & S.) seems to have been a commoner species in the past and, as its larval foodplant is predominantly Wych Elm Ulmus glabra, the moth’s recent decline may well be linked with the loss of its foodplant. Records in 2008 included Brantham on 17 October (LC), Ipswich Golf Course on 29 September (NS), Landguard Common on 23 September (NO), Reydon (AC) and Nowton (RE). Generally the moth appears well distributed across the county at low density and is regularly recorded at the coastal recording stations, At least some of these coastal records are thought to be of migrant origin, leading to the presumption that our resident population may be reinforced by influxes from continental Europe. Pale-lemon Sallow Xanthia ocellaris (Borkhausen) is our rarest ‘sallow’ both locally and nationally. A well known location for the species was at Barton Mills and attracted visits from lepidopterists from other parts of the country, however the last known record of the species from this site was in 1993 and more recent searches have failed to find the moth. There are now two sites where the moth is recorded regularly, at Elveden (BS) and Little Blakenham (PW), but odd records from scattered localities across Suffolk make it probable that other local populations exist undiscovered. The year followed a similar pattern for migrants as last year with no large migrant influx but there were still some records of interest. The most notable was a Purple Cloud Actinotia polyodon (Clerck), a new species to the county, with records from Westleton on 30 May (MH, DH Plate 16) and Landguard Common on 5 August (NO). This is a very rare migrant to the British Isles with most records being made during the months of May and June. A record of Light Feathered Rustic Agrotis cinerea (D. & S.) at Minsmere on 8 May (RH) was the first recent county record of this species that is resident elsewhere in the country but most probably a migrant in Suffolk. A second record of Euchromius ocellea (Haw.) was recorded at light on 6 September at Reydon (AC). Other migrant species recorded in 2008 were Dewick’s Plusia MacDunnoughia confusa (Stephens) at Bawdsey on 12 September (MD) and Eye on 23 September (PK), Porter’s Rustic Proxenus hospes (Freyer) at Bawdsey on 19 and 27 August (MD) and at Landguard on 9 September (NO), Cydia amplana (Hübner) at Ipswich Golf Course on 5 August (NS), Landguard on 10 and 11 August (NO) and Bawdsey on 14 August (MD), Eupoecilia ambiguella Vine Moth (Hübner) at Landguard Common between 8 May and 9 June and also 25 July to 9 September (NO) and at Minsmere RSPB Reserve

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on 6 August (RH) and Pigmy Footman Eilema pygmaeola (Doubleday) at Bawdsey on 25 July (MD). Migrants appearing at the end of the season included Clancy’s Rustic Platyperigea kadenii (Freyer) at Bawdsey on 18 October (MD), Red-headed Chestnut Conistra erythrocephala (D. & S.) at Bawdsey on 6 November (MD), White-speck Mythimna unipuncta (Haw.) at Landguard on 16 November (NO). There was an influx of the migrant ermine moth Yponomeuta rorrella (Hübner) in 2008 with the species being recorded at several sites during July and August – Lakenheath (SMG), North Warren (SMG), Ipswich Golf Course (NS), Orfordness (MM), Landguard (NO), Bawdsey (MD), Mendlesham (SW), Minsmere (RH & TC), Bramfield (RH), Redgrave Fen (PK) and Eye (PK). I would like to thank those moth recorders who have submitted records during the year, not only those whose records and comments are mentioned here; Jon Clifton (JC), Toby Collett (TC), Alan Cornish (AC), Mark Cornish (MC), Liz Cutting (LC), Matthew Deans (MD), Stan Dumican (SD), Rafe Eley (RE), Graham Finch (GF), Steve Goddard (SG), Diane Hale (DH), Mike Hale (MH), Robin Harvey (RH), Paul Kitchener (PK), John Langmaid (JRL), Mike Marsh (MM), Adrian Parr (AP), Scott Paterson (SP), Neil Sherman (NS), Brian Statham (BS), Suffolk Moth Group (SMG), Phil Wilkins (PW) and Steve Woolnough (SW). 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. References Sherman, N. & Clifton, J. (2009). Nemapogon falstriella (Haas, 1881) (Lepidoptera: Tineidae) new to the British Isles. Entomologist’s Gazette 60: 77–80. Langmaid, J. R. & Young, M. R. (2004). Microlepidoptera Review of 2003. The Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation. 116: 193–214. Morley, C. (1937). Final Catalogue of the Lepidoptera of Suffolk. Ipswich: Suffolk Naturalists’ Society. Nieukerken, E. J. van. (1987). Taxonomy and Distribution of Trifurcula squamatella Stainton sp. rev., a Senior Synoynm of T. maxima Klimesch (Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae). Entomologist’s Gazette 38: 179–187. Tony Prichard (TP) 3 Powling Road Ipswich Suffolk IP3 9JR

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 45 (2009)


N. Sherman A. Prichard

Plate 14: Nemapogon falstriella (Haas), discovered in a poly tunnel at Ipswich Golf Course by Neil Sherman; new to Suffolk (and Britain) in 2007 (p. 42).

Plate 15: Mines of Phyllocnistis xenia Hering on White Poplar at Coddenham 2 October 2004 (p. 44).


L. Gregory Plate 16: Purple Cloud Actinotia polyodon (Clerck, 1759), trapped at Westleton, 30 May 2008 by M. & D. Hales - first county record (p. 45).

COMMENTS AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 2008  

Tony Prichard

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