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BUTTERFLY REPORT 2010

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COMMENTS AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 2010 A. W. PRICHARD Following a cold winter the early part of the year was characterised by generally cooler weather interspersed with short periods of warm weather and this appeared to delay the emergence of some of our spring-time moths. The month of June and most of July saw an extended period of hot dry weather encouraging some of the high summer species to emerge early. This early emergence combined with the delayed spring moth emergence meant that for a few weeks in early summer we had an abundance of moths on the wing and appearing in moth traps. This was strongly contrasted by a cool and rather wet August and most recorders reported low moth numbers during the month. Autumn conditions were generally fair and moth numbers reflected this with the addition of some late migrants. Each year still uncovers new moths to the county and in 2010 Metalampra italica Baldizzone was added to the county list when it was recorded at light by RH at Bramfield (22 August). This moth was first recorded in Britain in 2003 in Devon and since then several individuals have turned up at light in the southern counties. M. italica was previously considered endemic to Italy, where the larva is known to feed on the decaying an dead wood of oak trees, and it is a mystery as to why the moth should be appearing in Britain. A similar species, M. cinnamomea (Zeller), can be found more widely across Europe and one might have thought that this would have been more likely species to have made its way across the Channel. A further species of micro-lepidoptera new to Suffolk in 2010 was Mompha bradleyi Riedl when PK recorded this species at Eye (26 October), with the determination being confirmed with dissection by JC. It was only in the 1990s that it was realised that this species occurred in the country due to confusion in identification with the similar M. divisella Herrich-Schäffer. Since then examination of specimens in collections has shown other overlooked individuals of this moth that occurred in Britain prior to the 1990s. The larva like others of this group feeds on Epilobium and more specifically on Great Willowherb Epilobium hirsutum, with the larva feeding inside the stems and causing galls to form as a result. Cypress Carpet Thera cupressata (Geyer) was recorded at Landguard (NO, 22 July) and was a new species of macro-lepidoptera for the county. The moth was first found in Britain in West Sussex in 1984. Since then it has established itself at various sites along the south coast. The larva feeds on Monterey Cypress Cupressus macrocarpa and Leyland Cypress Cupressocyparis leylandii so it should find no shortage of foodplant in Suffolk or most parts of the country. It is assumed that this individual was of continental origin and at around the same time there was an influx of the rare migrant ermine moth Yponomeuta irrorella (Hübner) in parts of southern Britain, with an individual of Y. irrorella recorded by PK at Eye (19 July) being another addition to the county moth list. The over-wintering plume moth Amblyptilia acanthadactyla (Hübner) continues to flourish across the county and in 2010 was recorded during spring

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and late summer to autumn from Dunwich Heath (CM), Ipswich Golf Course (NS), Eye (PK), Iken (PK), Minsmere (RH), Gorleston-on-Sea (BJ), Reydon (JE), Hollesley (NM), Woolpit (PB), Martlesham Heath (SG), Mendlesham (SW), Landguard (NO), Sicklesmere (SD). These give an indiciation of how widespread the moth has become in the county within the last ten years, as prior to 2000 this it was considered a scarce moth in Suffolk. The status of Stenoptilia zophodactylus (Duponchel) in the county is currently rather unclear. Historically it was known from a single Suffolk site, Hitcham, where it was reared in the 19th century, although Bloomfield seems to have had doubts about the validity of the record [Morley, 1937]. In recent times it has been recorded from two sites, Landguard and Minsmere. At the latter site it has only been recorded the once (RH, 7 August 2007) while at Landguard where it was first recorded in 2004 it has been seen annually since then and in 2010 it was recorded five times. The larva feeds on Centaury Centaurium erythraea, yellow-wort Blackstonia and gentians Gentiana and the moth inhabits sparsely vegetated habitats such as coastal cliffs and sand dunes, chalk grassland or dry pastures. Is it possible that the moth has been overlooked at other sites along the coast? It is similar in appearance to Stenoptilia bipunctidactyla (Scopoli) but the coastal region is relatively well recorded so it would seem unlikely that it has been over-looked if well distributed along the coast. The Suffolk Moth Group returned to Dunwich Forest for a couple of moth nights during 2010 to look for Devon Carpet Lampropteryx otregiata (Metcalfe), after the group had recorded it there in 2009. The visits on 28 May and 7 August were timed to coincide with the two flight periods of this double-brooded moth. The moth was recorded on both occasions with a singleton being seen in May and nine adults in August. This provides evidence supporting the idea that the moth is resident in the area and further searches will look for the moth at other nearby sites that have a similar habitat. Several other species of note were recorded at the August meeting including Whitemantled Wainscot Archanara neurica (Hßbner), Fenn’s Wainscot Chortodes brevilinea (Fenn), Reed Dagger Simyra albovenosa (Goeze), Oblique Carpet Orthonama vittata (Borkhausen), Square-spotted Clay Xestia rhomboidea (Esper) and Dotted Clay Xestia baja (D. & S.), the first four species having already been recorded at a meeting in 2009. Chamomile Shark Cucullia chamomillae (D. & S.) is a sporadic visitor to light traps in Suffolk and for the last decade or so records of this species have been increasing gradually. In 2010 there were the following records - Dunwich Heath (CM, 27 May), Reydon (JE, 29 April), Woolpit (PB, 19 May), Landguard (NO, 17 May, 2, 9 and 10 June). The moth occurs at scattered localities around the county but is not as widespread or common as the Shark C. umbratica (L.) and this reflects the national distribution of the two species. Both species have foodplants that are widespread and common in the county although for the Chamomile Shark the foodplant of its name, Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile, is extinct as a native in East Anglia, so other factors (possibly related to the difference in flight period) must be limiting populations of Chamomile Shark. Alternatively, the moth maybe particularly

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shy of light and is just not appearing in light traps to be recorded. Another Cucullia species, Wormwood C. absinthii (L.), was recorded on a couple of occasions during the year at Lakenheath RSPB Reserve (SMG, 9 July) and Woolpit (PB, 17 August). A particularly memorable moth group meeting was held at Barnhamcross Common on 2 July 2010. This coincided with the peak of the recording season and on the night the weather conditions were unusually favourable for a moth night in Breckland with a heavy cover of cloud cover ensuring that night-time temperatures were maintained throughout the whole of the night. Seven MV lamps and one actinic lamp were spread out over the south-western end of the common and as soon as dusk fell the lamps were attracting good numbers of moths and they just kept on arriving. It is a rare occasion nowadays to see traps overflowing with thousands of moths but this was one of those times. Not only were there large number of the commoner species but for species such as Beautiful Hook-tip Laspeyria flexula (D. & S.) and Leopard Zeuzera pyrina (L.) that are normally seen in one or twos there could be upwards of ten or even twenty individuals. The final species count was just shy of three hundred when the traps were finally closed down at dawn. In amongst the masses of commoner species there were some moths of particular interest, the first of these was Sorhagenia lophyrella (Douglas), a moth that feeds as a larva on the buds and young leaves of Buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica and Alder Buckthorn Frangula alnus. The moth has been reported from West Suffolk vice-county previously but I do not have the full details of this report. A singleton of the pretty plume Cnaemidophorus rhododactyla (D. & S.) was a new species for the site and taken with recent records may suggest that this moth is resident in areas of the county. Scythris grandipennis (Haworth), Euzophera cinerosella (Zeller) and Rosy Marbled Elaphria venustula (Hübner) were other records from the night that were of note. Records of some of our less common ‘thorn’ moths continued to be worryingly low in 2010. August Thorn Ennomos quercinaria (Hufnagel) was recorded twice at Eye (PK, 24 July) and Dunwich (CM, 9 August) and September Thorn Ennomos erosaria (D. & S.) was recorded only once at Elveden (SD, 22–23 July). One point of view is that the individuals seen in the county may be due to continental migrants or possibly wanderers from other parts of Britain. For this year at least these records do not fall within any of the main migrations waves so there is little reason to suspect that they are not individuals that have originated from Suffolk. Two individuals of the elusive Alder Kitten Furcula bicuspis (Borkhausen) were recorded at Bradwell (KK, 25 June and 1 July). The moth is more widespread in Norfolk and the more recent records of this species have all occurred along the Norfolk-Suffolk border, suggesting the possibility that the Suffolk sightings maybe due to vagrants or colonists from the Norfolk population. KK also recorded the local species, Pale-lemon Sallow Xanthia ocellaris (Borkhausen), later in the year at Bradwell (22 September) and this latter species also turned up in the traps of SD at Sicklesmere (13 October). Red-necked Footman Atolmis rubricollis (L.) continues to be recorded each year and in 2010 singletons were seen in most parts of the county with records

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from Lackford SWT Reserve (SMG, 25 June), East Bergholt (TP, 3 July), Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 29 June, 11 July), Reydon (JE, 30 June), Landguard (NO, 4 July) and Sicklesmere (SD, 29 June). Eight adults were seen at the Barnhamcross Common (SMG, 2 July), a large number to be seen together for this species. The evidence is now strongly suggesting that this species is resident in the county with the regularity of recording of the species and the moth appearing at times not associated with influxes of other migrant species. Blair’s Wainscot Sedina buettneri (Hering) was recorded twice during October at Dunwich (CM) on 1 and 4 October. This moth has previously been recorded at Rendham in 2006 and Dunwich in 2007 and the individuals were presumed to be migrants, whether the same presumption could be made about these singletons in 2010 is not so certain. There is suitable habitat available for the moth to be breeding in the area so these sightings could have resulted from wanderers from a locally grown population. Some of the various other notable micro-lepidoptera records from the year included Zelleria hepariella Stainton on 18 July, Coleophora adspersella Benander on 3 July and C. deauratella Lienig & Zeller on 4 July, all three from Ipswich Golf Course (NS). At Minsmere some of the less frequently recorded species included Depressaria badiella (Hübner) on 28 July (RH), Agonopterix kaekeritziana (L.) on 9 October (RH), Syncopacma larseniella (Gozmány) on 9 July (RH et al.,) and Assara terebrella (Zincken) on 19 August (RH, KS). Two of the Caryocolum species were recorded at Ipswich Golf Course (NS) with Caryocolum blandella (Douglas) (20 July) and C. fraternella (Douglas) (31 July), and the former species was also recorded at Minsmere (RH, 26 July). The scarce Gelechia muscosella Zeller was recorded at Ipswich Golf Course (NS) on three occasions; 19 July, 3 August and 21 August. There were three records of Epinotia signatana (Douglas) from 2010, two of them from Eye (PK) on 7 and 18 July and the third from Bramfield (RH, 18 July). Monochroa tenebrella (Hübner) was recorded twice at Ipswich Golf Course (NS) on 26 June and 10 July. PK in Eye recorded Endothenia oblongana (Haworth) on 30 June, PB in Woolpit recorded Agonopterix conterminella (Zeller) on 28 July and Dystebenna stephensi (Stainton) was another notable record from Ipswich Golf Course (NS) on 20 July. The moth group held one of its meetings at Orford Ness NT reserve on 2 July with the intention of looking for White-mantled Wainscot Archanara neurica (Hübner) in the areas of dry reed-beds on the reserve. Conditions overnight were favourable but the target species failed to turn up at any of the traps. The traps had attracted good numbers of other moths including relatively large numbers of Ground Lackey Malacosoma castrensis (L.), the saltmarsh plume Agdistis bennetii (Curtis), Garden Tiger Arctia caja (D. & S.) and Silver Y Autographa gamma (L.), the latter including diminutive individuals of the form gammina. Other species of interest included Choreutis pariana (Clerck), Scrobipalpa suaedella (Richardson), Caryocolum vicinella (Douglas) and Cosmopterix lienigiella Lienig & Zeller. Some leaf-mining records of note from the year included a further record of Ectoedemia hannoverella (Glitz) from Beccles Common on 16 October during the moth group’s leaf-miner field meeting, adding to the picture that

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this moth is more widely distributed in the county than previously thought. The oak-feeding Phyllonorycter lautella (Zeller) and the Salix-feeding Phyllonorycter salicicolella (Sircom) were recorded from Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 15 July). These are an under-recorded pair as the species cannot be identified reliably from the mine alone. Identifying the leaf-miner moths can be much more difficult from the adults but some adult records of species poorly recorded as larva were Leucoptera spartifoliella (Hübner) from Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 1 July), Bucculatrix cristatella Zeller from Minsmere (RH et al., 20 July) and Bucculatrix nigricomella Zeller from Woolpit (PB, 19 July). Late August through to October saw the arrival of some of the commoner migrant species including Convolvulus Hawk-moth Agrius convolvuli (L.) recorded at the coastal sites of Dunwich (CM, various dates between 29 September and 8 October), Iken (PK, 13 October) and Kessingland (GP, 12 September). One of the more unusual migrant hawk-moths appearing at this time was a Silver-striped Hawk-moth Hippotion celerio (L.) at Dunwich Heath (CM, 5 October 2010). Slightly earlier in the year between the 15 and 19 August three larvae of Spurge Hawk-moth Hyles euphorbiae (L.) had been found at Landguard Common. Some of the more unusual migrants started arrived around mid-August with Conobathra tumidana (D. & S.) being recorded at Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 11 August), Cydia amplana (Hübner) at Dunwich Heath (CM, 12 August), Loxostege sticticalis (L.) at Minsmere (RH, 16 August) and Gypsy Moth Lymantria dispar (L.) at Dunwich Heath (CM ,18 August). It was a few weeks wait before Palpita vitrealis (Rossi) appeared at Landguard (NO, 28 September) to be followed by a second at Dunwich (CM, 9 October). Red-headed Chestnut Conistra erythrocephala (D. & S.) was recorded at a couple of sites Bradwell (KK, 8 October) and Dunwich (CM, 13 October). On the night of the 9 October Golden-twin Spot Chrysodeixis chalcites (Esper) appeared at the neighbouring sites of Minsmere (RH) and Dunwich (CM). 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; Paul Bryant (PB), Jon Clifton (JC), Stan Dumican (SD), John Everson (JE), Steve Goddard (SG), Robin Harvey (RH), Brian Jones (BJ), Paul Kitchener (PK), Keith Knight (KK), Nick Mason (NM), Clive Moore (CM), Nigel Odin (NO), Gill Perkins (GP), Neil Sherman (NS), Katie Smith (KS), Suffolk Moth Group (SMG), 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. Reference Morley, C. 1937. Final Catalogue of the Lepidoptera of Suffolk. Ipswich: Suffolk Naturalists’ Society. Tony Prichard (TP) 3 Powling Road Ipswich

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 47 (2012)

COMMENTS AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 2010  

Tony Prichard

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