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FURTHER OBSERVATIONS ON THE DIGGER

WASP

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T h e s e flies appear too strong for the wasp to hold. On both occasions they came face to face and as the wasp Struck, so the fly rose, knocking it completely off its balance. I have watched and followed the habits of this wasp for the past three years and in that time I have found no parasites. I have taken the fly Heiina lucorum Fln. on five occasions this year, 1952, in the vicinity of the man-made sandhill. It is odd that I have never taken it from a wasp or found any stored in the cells which I have unearthed at this place. From this it would appear that this fly is only hunted when other more favoured species are not available in large numbers, as such is the case on West Stow Heath. HENRY

J.

BOREHAM,

November, 1952. FOOTNOTE.—The Fly, Heiina lucorum Fln. at West Stow Heath, was identified by M r . L. Parmenter, who says that it does not appear to be recorded in Morley and Atmore's Suffolk L i s t ; it has once before been recorded as the prey of this species of Mellinus in H a m m & Richard's Paper -on the Biology of the Crabros—they were quoting an Observation made by M r . G . M . Spooner. M y thanks are due to M r . S. Beaufoy for his interest in the identification and correspondence about this fly.—H.J.B.

SUFFOLK

BUTTERFLIES.

WE are indebted to Mr. E. T . Goldsmith of Beccles, for bringing to our notice the following article on Suffolk butterflies, written by the late Hon. Secretary and published in the " East Anglian Daily T i m e s , " of 14th August, 1920. It is thought that comment on this, in the light of any changes that may have occurred in the last thirty-three years, would be interesting. " East Anglian Daily Times," 14.8.20. SUFFOLK

BUTTERFLIES.

" These be the pretty genii of the flowers, Daintily fed with honey and pure dew." —HOOD.

There is no doubt that butterflies are dying out in this county. I do not mean that there will ever be no butterflies here, but that the ones you see will be merely the common kinds—the Whites and Browns and Blues, the plebs of the highways and hedges.


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Already those kinds that were accounted rare thirty years ago are entirely disappeared ; and those kinds that were then accounted uncommon are now become rare ; while some of the migrants that used to delight the hearts of the Suffolk entomologists in the seventies visit us no more, or in such isolated instances that it is the slenderest chance if you should meet with one in a lifetime. A typical instance of this is the Camberwell Beauty, a large blue species, with pale border round his wings. The late Dr. Wrattislaw, of Bury School, took the remarkable number of twenty specimens in as many days (Suff. Nat. Hist. Soc., 1872, p. 300) at such diverse places as Chedburgh, Tuddenham, near Mildenhall, where werefiveof them, Stowmarket, Ipswichfivemore, Bury St. Edmund's, Bungay, Sudbury, Crowfield, Glemham, and Bradwell, in the extreme north-east. Yet one person—I speak feelingly !—who has collected here for thirty years has never been so fortunate as to see a living specimen. In Bloomfield's " Lepidoptera of SufTolk," which was published in 1890, fifty-seven different kinds of butterflies are recorded, out of the sixty-five usually accounted to be British ; but some of these, such as the Swallow Tail, Black-veined White, Bath White, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Camberwell Beauty, Lycaena acis and Adonis must be regarded as mere migrants, not likely to breed in the county, where they have been noticed only when passing over to more favoured places, or blown across from the Continent. Others, such as the Wood White, which used to occur about Stowmarket, Needham Market before 1860, at Wherstead about 1880, and before 1827 at Raydon Wood, Melitaea athalia, which is recorded from Stowmarket and certainly used to be found about Bentley; the Marbled White, at Little Blakenham chalk pits before 1827 and Needham Market before 1850 ; and the Speckled Wood (Aegeria), which in 1890 was thought to be " generally distributed" by Bloomfield, are now quite extinct. The last is a very remarkable instance of disappearance for Miss Jermyn records it from Baylham Hall and the Ipswich racecourse before 1827, and Bloomfield told me in 1907 that he remembered it " sixty years ago quite common in shady parts of our garden at Otley " ; but Col. Nurse has never seen it about Bury, nor have I ever noticed the species outside the New Forest in Hampshire. Several of our butterflies that are everywhere rare may possibly linger on in small numbers at a few isolated spots in Suffolk ; such are Melitaea artemis, recorded from Eriswell, Mildenhall, and Bungay, long ago by Miss Jermyn, as well as Beccles and Stowmarket, though in our generation it is confined to Tuddenham St. Mary, where Edward Sparke could alwaysfindit. The Comma seems to have died out with the disuse of the Stowmarket hop gronnds, though it has also been seen at Eye, Campsey Ash,


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Offton, Ipswich, Nayland, Stoke, and is always to be met in the West of England. The Large Tortoiseshell was not rare so recently as twenty years ago, but I have not seen more than one since then ; the exception was a brilliant specimen Aying round an oak-tree in Staverton Thicks, which was exuding sap, in August, 1918. And in just the same way Purple Emperors are becoming extremely scarce ; where orte could always rely upon at least seeing them gyrating in forceful swoops about the tops of the trees in Bentley Woods thirty years ago, now one gazes the live-long day in vain; but these woods have since that time been stocked with pheasants—verb sap. ! The Black and Brown Hairstreaks have always been very rare with us, which is somewhat remarkable when we notice that their headquarters in England, Monks Wood, in Hunts., is on the same geological formation as most of SufFolk ; the former has been found only at Brandeston and Layham, near Hadleigh ; the latter at Saxham, Raydon, Bentley (where it is now quite certainly extinct), and Higham. The tale of the Duke of Burgundy is a repetition of the Purple Emperor's. Yet still several of our butterflies are to be found by paying especial trips to their particular homes, always remembering the restrictioned span of their perfect condition. The silverwashed fritillary sits on bracken in most of our woods, but never commonly ; the dark-green and high-brown ones both live in the Bentley Woods, but in ever-dwindling numbers; the small pearl-bordered one may still be there, where once I remember it abundantly, but I have not seen it for years ; though White Admirals survive as of yore ; I fear the other " various places near Ipswich " have lost it by now, and it is become very rare at Assington. The pretty Green Hairstreak is much rarer than twenty years ago, but enough woods are left to support i t ; while the White-letter Hairstreak is locally common at Badlev Hardwick, Ipswich, Beccles, Playford, and Dr. Vinter has recentiy discovered it at Parham. The Silver-studded Blue is common on the breck heaths of the north-west and at Dunwich, though I have heard of no captures at its old places—Bixley Decoy Herringfleet, and Lound. And the Chalk-hill Blue, in the same way, is decreasing fast, for whereas it had a wide distribution from Moulton and Eriswell, wherever chalk cropped out, to Felixstowe and Lowestoft, I have never seen it in the cou'nty and believe Platten took the last one during 1895 in the Blakenham chalk-pits. The Little Blue was found very generally on chalk, but now seems confined to the extreme west about Worlington • I saw it at the Fleam Dyke, just out of Suffolk, in 1918. T h e Dmgy Skipper also dwindles ; in 1890 it was accorded no more than a note " locally common " ; now I know it only from Raydon Wood, Monk Park, and the recently felled Norton Wood, Lavenham, where I noticed it in 1898, Hintlesham and Bentley, where


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it is distinctly rare. Hesperia comma, recently added to the Norfolk fauna from Lynn, remains unique for Suffolk from Newmarket Heath ; nor have I seen H. lineola. Of course, with a total of fifty-seven kinds, very few could be hoped to be added to the Suffolk list; yet three additional kinds are known, all naturally of extreme rarity. These are Argynnis Niobe, of which Mr. T . N. Waller took a specimen near Bury St. Edmunds, and probably in Monk Park Wood about 1879 ; this is noticed in Bloomfield's 1900 " Supplement." The late C. A. Pyett, a keen young collector, told me in 1900 that he saw a Long-tailed Blue (Lycaena boetica) " quite distinctly, certainly and closely " in the garden of the Bath Hotel at Felixstowe during August, 1897; doubtless blown across from the Continent. And lastly, there was that Milkweed Butterfly (Anosia plexippus), a cosmopolitan insect which only recently came to England, about which we had some correspondence in the East Anglian Daily Times when it appeared. It was seen Aying along the avenue at Felixstowe by a visitor during the summer of 1906. Almost the only other species that could occur with us is the Skipper (Hesperia paniscus), which is by no means rare on the oolite about Peterborough at Helpston Heath, where the Marbled Whites abound ; this has recently turned up at King's Lynn. There can be no shadow of doubt that the gradual extinction of our rarer butterflies is almost entirely due to the high farming of forty years ago, and the great area now under cultivation. We need go no further back than Faden's 1783 Map of Suffolk— for very little attention had been paid the subject before that date—in order to appreciate the vast extent of " waste " land that has since been brought under the plough, and the acres of forest trees that have been felled. This, in its degree, is no new thing ; forests have been falling throughout the county, and more arable continuously cultivated since the Saxons' advent over a thousand years ago. The process is not yet complete, but when it is Suffolk will be nothing but a flat and dreary wilderness of cornfields, chequered with stunted hedges two feet high ! Enough is yet left to enable us to reconstruct, if only mentally, its aspect in the medieval times, when the central parts were mainly forest and waste ; and it is very fascinating to picture Large Copper butterflies flitting about the great water dock where Abbo describes the Dove expanding to Surround Eye Castle ; and Swallow-tails feeding on the higher grounds, just as they do in France. It is easier to reconstruct our most wooded districts from a study of the soil than to unravel the mysteries of Domesday Book in this respect; the latter's commentator in the " Victoria History," i, p. 408, considers that " the most thickly wooded districts seem to have been in the Hundreds of Blything, Hoxne, and Loes," to which Hartismere may safely be added. Isaac Taylor explains


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that the " physical condition and climate of our islands have been largely affected by the destruction of the forests that once clothed the greater part. The notices of ancient writers are seldom sufficiently definite or copious to enable us to discover the extent of the old woodland," and there can be no doubt that the climate of Suffolk was a good deal warmer and more humid, both conditions conducing to the propagation of butterfly life, before these great stretches of ancient timber were swept away. CLAUDE

MORLEY.

There is no doubt that the butterfly life of Suffolk has been affected to a certain degree by the Clearing of large amounts of woodland and by the bringing of heaths under the plough, but, happily, Mr. Morley's somewhat pessimistic prophecy " . . . the ones you see will be merely the common kinds " has not yet been fulfilled. The presence or absence of the rare migrants, like the Camberwell Beauty, the Queen of Spain Fritillary, the Long-tailed Blue and others, is in no way dependent upon the condition of our land. Their Coming here and the numbers of them which arrive, varying from year to year, are quite adventitious; what emtomologist will ever forget the quantities of Bath Whites that were found in the south of England a few years ago ? It is true that neither the Speckled Wood nor the Marbled White has been recorded in the county for many years, though, as the larvae are grass feeders, it would appear that there are plenty of suitable localities for the butterflies and it is reasonable to suppose that we may again see them Aying here. In other parts of the country these two species are absent from localities that would seem to satisfy their requirements, and this applies particularly to the Marbled White. It is extraordinary that Mr. Morley had never seen the Speckled Wood outside the New Forest. The rest of the Browns, with the exception of the three northern species, the Small Mountain Ringlet, the Scotch Argus, and the Large Heath, are now all very common in Suffolk. Of the family Nymphalidae, the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, the Dark Green Fritillary, the Marsh and the Heath Fritillaries, have not been recorded for many years, but the Silver-washed Fritillary, thought by Mr. Morley just before the last war to be extinct in Suffolk, now abounds in most of our large woods. The Large Tortoiseshell was evidently extremely rare in Suffolk in 1920 ; it is now, however, to be found in fair numbers and is well distributed throughout the county. The Comma is a species that has returned to the county as well as to the rest of the south and east of England ; it is now comparatively common. Mr. Morley seemed to think that pheasants were responsible


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for the lack of Purple Emperors in Bentley Woods. It is difficult to follow this argument as the larvae feed on sallow bushes, well out of reach of feeding pheasants. There is no doubt that this beautiful species of the treetops is much less common than it was during the last Century. It is therefore especially pleasing to be able to report that a number have been seen in one of our woods only this summer. The White Admiral continues to adorn some of our larger woods where honeysuckle grows ; in some years the species is abundant, as in 1952, while in others it is relatively scarce. The Duke of Burgundy Fritillary, of the family Riodinidae, has not been reported for many years. The Small Blue, depending upon a supply of Kidney-Vetch, for the larvae eat the flowers of this plant, is one of the family Lycaenidae and occurs in fair numbers at Newmarket Heath, only just over the border in Cambridgeshire ; the Chalk-hill Blue, too, is here quite common. The larvae of this last species, and of the closely related Adonis Blue, feed on the Horse-shoe Vetch, which is known to grow in only one, very small, locality in East Suffolk. Neither species of butterfly is now found in the county. The Silver-studded Blue is very common on some of the heaths near Ipswich, heaths which, it is to be hoped, will not all be ploughed. The Green, the Purple, and the White-letter Hairstreaks are all quite common in suitable localities in Suffolk, but it is very doubtful if the Black Hairstreak occurs in the county as it seems to be confined to a very few, isolated, colonies in England. The late Mr. E. W. Platten reported a Brown Hairstreak from Belstead Woods a few years ago, but none has been recorded since. It is an elusive insect and it is possible that it still occurs here though undetected. Of the family Pieridae, the Wood White has recently been rumoured to be present in central Suffolk. It would be most interesting to have this report confirmed though it would be wiser not to publish the exact locality. The British race of the Swallow-tail depends upon the presence of milk parsley for its larval food. This grows abundantly in the areas of the Broads and the Fens, and specimens of the butterfly seen far from these districts are probably migrants from the continent, where there is a slightly different race with different habits. All the Skippers, family Hesperiidae, occur quite commonly in Suffolk with the exception of the Chequered, the Lulworth and the Silver-spotted Skippers. Mr. Morley stated that in 1920 he had never seen the Essex Skipper ; it is now very common but is very easily overlooked as it so closely resembles the Small Skipper. In Ipswich, this July, on one small patch of rough ground, 97 butterflies of the two species were caught, examined


SUFFOLK

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BUTTERFLIES

and released ; of these 33 were Essex Skippers. It is hoped that more work will be done in order to determine the relative numbers of the two species in the county, and also to determine more accurately the distribution of the Essex Skipper. It would seem, therefore, that although there have been some losses during the last 33 years, there have also been some gains, and that we need not be too despondent about the butterfly life of our county. Some of the old records give no indication that a particular species, now rare, was common in those days ; it is probable that the records may have referred only to a few stray specimens that had wandered from their normal home. It must not always be assumed that a butterfly is breeding in a certain area just because it is seen in that particular part. Again, there must be many areas in the county that have not been thoroughly searched. We are all perhaps inclined to go to the same places year after year, to note that a species is less numerous there than it has been, and to come to the conclusion that the species is therefore dying o u t ; while it is quite possible that, for some reason the species has changed its headquarters and is now occurring in another area from which it was previously absent and which, for that very reason, had not recently been visited. S.

BEAUFOY.

NOTES ON REARING LEPIDOPTERA, 1953. BUTTERFLIES: T h e S C O T C H A R G U S , Erebia aethiops Esp. Of the four larvae which entered hibernation (Trans, viii, p. 79), only one survived the winter. This fed slowly on Poa annua, hiding by day low down in the grass stems. In July, the larva spun a few silk threads around itself, as it lay on the ground at the base of the grass stems. It pupated inside this slight web, and a female emerged on 8th August. Fifteen more ova were received from the north this summer. All have hatched and it is hoped that a larger number of butterflies will result next year. The P U R P L E E M P E R O R , Apatura iris Linn. Of the five larvae sleeved out last autumn (Trans, viii, p. 79), one died before hibernation ; two spent the winter at the fork of a twig with the main stem (the usual position for hibernation) ; one wintered

Reprint of C. Morley's 'Butterflies becoming extinct,' 1920