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COMMENTS AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS 2012

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COMMENTS AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 2012 A. W. PRICHARD The year started with a generally mild and dry spell and March was particularly warm and sunny. This was followed by a cold and wet April and it was not until the latter part of May that conditions improved with increasing spells of sunshine and warmer night. Conditions deteriorated as summer approached and the period to September was dominated by long periods of cool wet weather. September and October saw an easing of the rainfall and a return of some sunny weather but by this time the peak of the recording season was over and it was mainly the coastal stations that benefited from the warm autumnal nights with an influx of migrants. Many recorders commented that this was the worst recording season in memory and not only were numbers of adult moths appearing at light in low numbers but searches for larvae and leaf-mines were not as productive as expected. With all the gloom during such a poor recording season and worries about collapsing moth populations there were still observations of note and the discovery of several species new to the county. During a visit by Paul Bryant to Wolves Wood RSPB Reserve on 21 May with the objective of searching for Micropterix tunbergella (Fab.), as it was known to occur ar the site, some Micropterix were found on hawthorn blossom but on closer examination these proved to be M. mansuetella Zeller. Both of these species of Micropterix have been rarely recorded in the county, particularly the latter species, which has not been recorded since its only sighting at Stowmarket in 1859. A subsequent visit by Neil Sherman found that the moth could be more readily found feeding on sedge flowers and it may well be that future searching of sedge flowers in May and June could lead to the discovery of further colonies at other sites. The Suffolk Moth Group held one of its moth nights at Old Hall Wood near Bentley on 29 June, which was intended as a general survey meeting. Weather conditions on the night were reasonably favourable despite a breeze and several lights were spread out amongst the more deciduous parts of the wood. The recording of twelve adults of Olive Crescent Trisateles emortualis (D. & S.) was rather unexpected, especially as the moth group had previously visited this site and other sites in the area to look for this species and failed to find any evidence of it. The conclusion drawn was that the species was likely to have colonised the wood recently.Three Red-necked Footman Atolmis rubricollis (L.) were also recorded and probably indicates that there is a local population of this species in the wood. Other species of note recorded at the meeting included Shaded Fan-foot Herminia tarsicrinalis (Knock), Spatalistis bifasciana (HĂźbner), Dioryctria sylvestrella (Ratzeburg) and a single Assara terebrella (Zincken). The latter species is infrequently recorded in Suffolk but with plenty of its foodplant Norway Spruce Picea abies in the wood the habitat would appear suitable. A short survey for the larvae of Olive Crescent was carried out in late September to gain further evidence of colonisation of the wood and other nearby woods. Several larvae were found at Old Hall Wood (NS and TP, 22 September) and also at Great Martins Wood (TP, 23 September) and

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Dodnash Wood (TP, 29 September). Elsewhere in Britain it has been reported that this BAP species has been spreading from its various colonies and it would seem that the same phenomenon is occurring with the Essex population at Stour Wood finding its way into Suffolk. John Chainey and Jenny Spence also visited the county at this time to look for Olive Crescent larvae and searched Freston and Cutler’s Woods without finding any sign of the larvae. They did, however, find leaf-mines of Mompha terminella (Humphreys & Westwood) on Enchanter’s Nightshade Circaea lutetiana at Freston Wood (22 September) and this was some compensation for their efforts as it is the first time that this species has been recorded in the county. It is quite possible that this species has been over-looked in the past and may be recorded at other sites if searched for. The Suffolk Moth Group visited the Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Oulton Marshes on 7 July for some general moth surveying of the site as it appears to be an area that has not been recorded in the past. The meeting was one of the more successful of the year with over 160 species recorded from the various habitats on the reserve; scrub woodland, fen and grazing marshes. A list of the more localised species recorded on the night include Argyresthia pygmaeella (D. & S.), Coleophora taeniipennella Herrich-Schäffer, Brachmia inornatella (Douglas), Phlyctaenia perlucidalis (Hübner), Nascia cilialis (Hübner), Spinach Eulithis mellinata (Fab.),Valerian Pug Eupithecia valerianata (Hübner), Double Dart Graphiphora augur (Fab.), Shaded Fan-foot Herminia tarsicrinalis (Knoch) and Dotted Fan-foot Macrochilo cribrumalis (Hübner). A little earlier in the season (9 June) during a daytime SMG meeting at the nearby SWT Carlton Marshes reserve larval cases of the scarce Coleophora binderella (Koller) were found to be abundant on Alder Alnus glutinosa. Two further notable Coleophora records from the year were Coleophora discordella Zeller at North Warren (SMG, gen. det. JC, 9 June) and Coleophora tamesis Waters at Sizewell Belts (SMG, gen. det. RW, 10 August). Double Kidney Ipimorpha retusa (L.) had not been reported in the county since it was seen in 1924 at Henham [Morley, 1937]. In 2011 the species was recorded at a Norfolk site on the northern side of the River Waveney, just north of the Suffolk boundary. This prompted the Suffolk Moth Group to hold a meeting at Beccles Marshes on 27 July with the objective of looking for this species. The search was successful with over 20 adults of Double Kidney recorded at lights set out along the river path. As there is plenty of the foodplants, sallows and willows, in the vicinity it would seem quite likely that the moth is resident in the area. The event was one of the more productive evenings of the year with over 200 species recorded and Double Kidney was not the only species of note seen, Agonopterix conterminella (Zeller) was another scarce willow-feeding species recorded on the night. Several Balsam Carpet Xanthorhoe biriviata (Borkhausen) were also recorded and this moth appears to be localised as a resident to the north-eastern parts of the county, which is probably related to the distribution of its main foodplant, Orange Balsam Impatiens capensis. Parectopis ononidis (Zeller) was a new species for the county when it was recorded at light at Hollesley (RW, 18 August). The adult of this species is

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infrequently seen at light and usually it is the larva that is recorded from its leaf-mines on Red Clover Trifolium pratense and restharrows Ononis spp. Lampronia fuscatella (Tengström) is another species that is more often recorded as a larva but was recorded at Ipswich Golf Course at light (NS, 24 May). The larva of this species feeds inside stems of birch Betula usually at a node where it causes a roundish gall to form and these galls can be searched for once the leaves have fallen from the trees. The larva remains inside the gall and pupates there in April, prior to emerging in May and June. The appearance of Gelechia scotinella Herrich-Schäffer at Hollesley on three nights (RW, 27 July, 11 and 21 August) was another addition to the county list and may indicate that a colony of this localised species exists in the vicinity, elsewhere in Britain it has been recorded in south Essex, Hertfordshire and Worcestershire. The larvae feed on the flowers and leaves of Blackthorn Prunus spinosa and colonies are generally associated with mature hedgerows and scrub habitats. A record of Depressaria badiella (Hübner) at Maidscross Hill, Lakenheath (Mike Dale, 4 September) is the first inland record in Suffolk of this species that has a preference for sand-dunes or other well-drained soils. The moth has previously been recorded in Suffolk along the coast but the habitat at Maidscross Hill would appear to be suitable. In July I received a photograph taken on 1 July from Rob Garrod of a pretty black and orange micro-moth with metallic blotches taken at rest on a piece of wooden fencing in Holywells Park, Ipswich. This was confirmed as Chrysoclista linneella (Clerck), a scarce species nationally and not previously recorded in Suffolk. The larvae of the moth feed within the bark of lime trees and it was noted that an old lime tree was close to the fence where the moth was found. As the adult moth is known for resting during the day on tree trunks a search of neighbouring trees was carried out on several occasions but failed to locate any further individuals. Some of the more unusual tortrix records for the year included Acleris literana (L.) at Flatford (JC, 27–28 August), Epinotia signatana (Douglas) at Mendlesham (SW, 22 July), Epinotia sordidana (Hübner) at Hollesley (RW, 12 August), Epinotia caprana (Fab.) at Bawdsey (MD, 15 August), Spilonota laricana (Heinemann) at Hollesley (RW, 4 July) and Ipswich (PK, 20 August), Dichrorampha aeratana ((Pierce & Metcalfe) at Hollesley (RW, 27 and 31 May) and Cnephasia pumicana (Zeller) at Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 12 August) and Broom’s Barn (BP, 8–28 August) and Hollesley (RW, 20 July–18 August). Since its discovery in Suffolk in 2011 Cochylis molliculana Zeller has been recorded at a some further sites during the year with records from Woolpit (PB, 26 June), Tattingstone (BJ, 4 July), Hollesley (RW, 2, 3 and 4 September) and Ipswich (PK, 8 September). As expected on its arrival this species seems to be rapidly colonising the county, mirroring its behaviour in other parts of the country. Further micro-lepidoptera records of 2012 included Diplodoma laichartingella (Goeze) at Raydon (Colin Hawes, 27 July) and Hollesley (RW, 9 July), Infurcitinea argentimaculella (Stainton) at Hollesley (RW, 9 July), Argyesthia laevigatella (Heydenreich) at Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 17 June) and

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Argyresthia glabratella (Zeller) also at Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 5 July), Ypsolopha horridella (Treitschke) at Aldeburgh (SMG, 17 August), Apodia bifractella (Duponchel) at Reydon (JE, 14 July) and Landguard (NO, 2, 9 and 12 August), Altenia scriptella (Hübner) at Woolpit (PB, 25 July), Gelechia muscosella Zeller at Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 26 June and 31 July), Caryocolum viscariella (Stainton) at Hollesley (RW, 4 and 30 July), Dichomeris alacella (Zeller) at Dunwich (PK, 3 and 4 August) and St Olaves (KK, 14 August) and finally Euleioptilus carphodactyla (Hübner) at Hollesley (RW, 18 August) Over the last decade I have commented about the decline and possible extinction of several of our hedgerow moths with species like the Lappet Gastropacha quercifolia (L.) almost certainly now extinct in the county and others like Small Eggar Eriogaster lanestris (L.) and Pale Eggar Trichiura crataegi (L.) only occurring very infrequently at scattered localities. A record of Pale Eggar at Broom’s Barn (Bob Palmer, 23 August–12 September) is the only record for the year and also the first record for four years. The only other records I have received since I last wrote about this species [Prichard, 2006] have been from Sicklesmere (SD, 29 July 2006) and Barrow (AP, 2008). Small Eggar may also have possibly disappeared from Suffolk with no more records forthcoming since I last reported on this species [Prichard, 2005]. In contrast Dotted Chestnut Conistra rubiginea (D. & S.) has only just recently arrived in county and with two records this year at Elveden (SD, 28 February) and Bawdsey (MD, 18 October) it would appear that it is continuing its range expansion across the country. General opinions were that 2012 was not a particularly good year for migrants but even so there were still some highlights, with most of sightings of note occurring during late August and October. Red-headed Chestnut Conistra erythrocephala (D. & S.) was recorded at both ends of the year with records from Hollesley (RW, 23 and 27 February) and Minsmere RSPB Reserve (RH, 19 October). A couple of migrant hawk-moths were reported in June with Death’s-head Hawk-moth Acherontia atropos (L.) at Wenhaston (PD, 25 June) and Striped Hawk-moth Hyles livornica (Esper) at Hollesley (RW, 10 June). In July there was a Bright Wave Idaea ochrata (Scop.) at Dunwich Heath (CM, 5 July), Many-lined Costaconvexa polygrammata (Borkhausen) at Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 17 July) and Pigmy Footman Eilema pygmaeola (Doubleday) at Orfordness (MM, 27 July). Migrant species recorded in August included Dotted Footman Pelosia muscerda (Hufnagel) at Ipswich Golf Course (NS, 12 August) and several records from the Bawdsey/Hollesley area notably Conobathra tumidana (D. & S) at Bawdsey (MD, 15 August), Three-humped Prominent Notodonta tritophus (D. & S.) at Bawdsey (MD, 18 August) and Jersey Tiger Euplagia quadripunctaria (Poda) at Bawdsey (MD, 18 August) and Hollesley (RW, 20 August). Dewick’s Plusia MacDunnoughia confusa (Stephens) was recorded at a couple of locations, Woolpit (PB, 18 August) and Wenhaston (LT, 17 September). Antigastra catalunalis (Duponchel) was reported from Bawdsey (MD, 23 October).

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The status of Waved Black Parascotia fuliginaria (L.) within the county remains unclear as to whether it is resident in the county or not. Recent records have been sporadic in appearance and not too far from the coast, which may support the belief that the sightings have been of migrant moths. However, the records have all been in the south-east part of the county and the lack of sightings further north along the coast would seem to weaken the argument for the moths having a migrant origin. In 2012 a further record of the species at Ipswich (PK, 23 July) fits in with the recent pattern of records occurring in south-east Suffolk. Three migrant Eublemma species were recorded during the year with two of these being new species to the county moth list. The first, Small Marbled Eublemma parva (HĂźbner), was added when it was recorded at Bawdsey (MD, 26 August) while the second, Purple Marbled Eublemma ostrina (HĂźbner), was recorded from Minsmere RSPB Reserve (RH, 24 October) . A single Beautiful Marbled Eublemma purpurina (D. & S.) was also recorded at Landguard (NO, 17 August), although this species has previously occurred in Suffolk. The larvae of Small Marbled feed in the flowers of Fleabane Pulicaria dysenterica but they currently appear to be unable to survive our winters in large enough numbers to establish themselves. The migrant micro-moth Tebenna micalis (Mann) is another Fleabane-feeding species and previously un-recorded in Suffolk until it was recorded at Bawdsey (MD, 4 September), only several days after the Small Marbled. One of the more interesting findings of the year took place towards the end of the year with the recording of a single Caloptilia hemidactylella (D. & S.) at Groton Wood (Ben Sale, 13 November). This sighting appears to be only the eighth British record and a new species for the county. The moth currently appears to be flourishing in the Netherlands [Corver, Muus & Ellis, 2011] after being discovered new for that country in 2003 and this Dutch population could well have been the source for this latest British sighting. On the night that BS visited weather conditions were reasonably favourable for moth recording and in addition to the C. hemidactylella fifty-seven individuals of Plumed Prominent Ptilophora plumigera (D. & S.) were recorded. This contrasted with a visit by the moth group to the same site on the following night when it was much cooler, a breeze was blowing and only eight Plumed Prominents were recorded. 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), John Chainey (JCh), Job Clifton (JC), Peter Dare (PD), Matthew Deans (MD), Stan Dumican (SD), John Everson (JE), Rob Garrod (RG), Robin Harvey (RH), Brian Jones (BJ), Paul Kitchener (PK), Keith Knights (KK), Mike Marsh (MM), Clive Moore (CM), Nigel Odin (NO), Bob Palmer (BP), Adrian Parr (AP), Neil Sherman (NS), Jenny Spence (JS), Suffolk Moth Group (SMG), Lenny Townsend (LT), Raymond Watson (RW), Steve Woolnough (SW).

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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 Morley, C. (1937). Final Catalogue of the Lepidoptera of Suffolk. Ipswich: Suffolk Naturalists’ Society. Prichard, A.W. (2005). Comments and Notes on some Suffolk Moths in 2004. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 41: 97–102. Prichard, A.W. (2006). Comments and Notes on some Suffolk Moths in 2005. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 42: 71–75. Cover, S. R., Muus, T. S. T., Ellis, W. M. Caloptilia hemidactylella: new to The Netherlands. Notes on distribution, morphology and biology (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae). Entomologische Berichten 71 (2): 31–38. Tony Prichard (TP) 3 Powling Road Ipswich Suffolk IP3 9JR

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COMMENTS AND NOTES ON SOME SUFFOLK MOTHS IN 2012  

Tony Prichard

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