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TRANSACTIONS A REVIEW OF BRITISH MACRO-LEPIDOPTERA FOR 1953 By

BARON DE W O R M S , M . A . ,

PH.D.,

F.L.S.,

F.R.E.S.

THE season did not open in such a spectacular manner as did lts predecessor. Most of the early spring species of moths appeared at their normal times and in average numbers. T h e White-marked (Gypsitea leucographa) was a notable visitor to sallow bloom in Surrey during April. T h e Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) and the common Whites were well out by the middle of the month when a warm spell set in bringing with it the emergence of the Scarce Prominent (Odontosia carmelita) of which a good many were taken in the south, the Lake District and a few in Scotland. Hardly any migrants were reported at this period. May proved to be extremely fine. T h e two Pearlbordered Fritillaries (Clossiana euphrosyne and C. selene) were both very numerous by the middle of the month and it was during a heat wave during the last week over the Whitsun holiday that the most notable occurrence of the year took place. Between 30 and 40 examples were recorded of the minute noctuid moth, the Small Marbled (Eublemma parva), more than hadever appeared before in this country. They were obtained along the south coast from Kent to Devon and as far inland as Gloucester and Chertsey, quite an unprecedented invasion. In August, a few more of this little moth were taken, one in the London suburbs, doubtless the offspring of the earlier brood. T h e first half of June was one of the coldest for that period in recent times, but the month was not unfruitful. No less than seven specimens of the Spotted Clover (Heliothis scutosa) were recorded, all from the Eastern Counties and mainly from Norfolk. There is much speculation whether this insect may not be breeding in the restricted areas where its foodplant (Artemisia campestris) flourishes. Recently it has established itself in Denmark. A very important addition to the lepidoptera of Suffolk was the finding by Mr. A. Aston of a specimen of the Varied Coronet (Hadena compta), probably an offshoot of the colony which was discovered in Dover in 1948. During the first half of the month a good many Alder Kittens (Cerura bicuspis)


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A REVIEW OF BRITISH

MACRO-LEPIDOPTERA

were again taken in Sussex. In the same area the Satin Lutestring (Tethea fluctuosa) was very abundant. Single specimens of the Striped-hawk (Celerio livornica) and the Pretty Marbled (Jaspidia deceptoria) were recorded at this time in the south-east where the White-banded Carpet (Euphyia luctuata) has apparently increased its ränge considerably. July was on the whole very wet and unpropitious for our lepidoptera. The larger Fritillaries, especially the Silver-washed (Argynnis paphia), were somewhat below average. The White Admirals (Limenilis Camilla) were well up to normal, but very few Purple Emperors (Apatura iris) were seen, perhaps owing to the generally unfavourable conditions when they were on the wing. The Blues, however, were in much better numbers, especially the Chalk-hill (Lysandra corydon) which was swarming in some of its southern haunts, but it did not produce much Variation. Düring the fine spell at the beginning of August the Downland Wainscot (Oria musculosa) was in even greater plenty than in 1952. One collector saw well over 300 at light in one night. About the middle of August both the Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus) and the Pale Clouded Yellow (C. hyale) appeared in small numbers, mainly in Kent, but the Painted Lady (Pyramets cardui) was extremely scarce. It was during the last days of August that took place a prodigious emergence of the Small Tortoiseshell {Aglais urticae) which heralded one of the best Septembers for many years. These butterflies have seldom been seen in such quantities at this time of season. Downlands and gardens in the south were alive with them and several rare aberrations were obtained. The Red Admirals (Pyrameis atalanta) and Commas (Polygonia c-album) were relatively rare. It was a particularly good year for the Clifden Nonpareil (Catocala fraxini) which was quite numerous in East Kent together with a remarkable number of the Red Underwing (Catocala nupta). About the middle of September a most notable event occurred in the annals of our lepidoptera. The most striking black and yellow caterpillars of the Toadflax Brocade (Calophasia lunula) were found quite commonly feeding on yellow toadflax in several areas in the south-east. Several specimens of this comparative newcomer had been taken during the summer along the south coast. Thus yet another species from the Continent has become a well-established resident with us, it is to be hoped. Several exceptional rarities among the möths were recorded during this period. These included two examples of Dumeril's Luperina (Luperina dumerih), one taken in Eastbourne and the other near Barnet north of London, a most surprising place of capture. The second record of the Large Ear (Hydraecia hucherardi) for this country was obtained in Kent, while another entirely new Noctuid was taken in Sussex, Bryophila raptricula, a close relative of our Marbled Beauty


Suri'oi.K NATHKAI.ISTS IX ACTION.

Anne Beaufo


A REVIEW OF BRITISH

MACRO-LEPIDOPTERA

181

(B. perla). Nor was this all for this amazing season. T h e Ni moth (Plusia ni) was seen in unusual numbers in the south-west, being taken right up to North Wales and Lancashire. Another most remarkable occurrence was an apparent invasion of that splendid insect, the Oleander Hawk (Daphnis nerii), a denizen of tropical regions. Probably quite a dozen were captured, chiefly in the south, but one was captured in Carlisle. This was a record year for this species. T h e Convolvulus Hawk (Herse convolvuli) and the Death's Head (Acherontia atropos) were comparatively scarce. T h e autumn proper turned out to be one of the mildest in recent years. Butterflies consequently thrived. T h e Small Copper (Heodes phloeas) was on the wing in the west well into November. T h e Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) was seen in December while Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells were still on the move at Christmas. It was also an exceptionally good period for moths, nearly all the usual autumn species appearing in very good numbers. Most noteworthy among the less frequent ones were the Figure of Eight (Episema caeruleocephala), the Sprawler (Brachionycha sphinx), the December moth (Poecilocampa populi) and the Plumed Prominent (Ptilophora plumigera). This last species was quite abundant in its restricted haunts in the south. This period saw several abnormal emergences. A few specimens of the Quaker (Orthosia stabilis), the Small Quaker (O. crudd) and even one of the Oak Beauty (Boarmia strataria) were recorded in December, three months before their usual time of appearance in March. 1953 can well be regarded as a memorable and fruitful year for British Lepidoptera.

THE WHITE-MOUTHED DIGGER WASP Coelocrabro leucostomus Linn. SOME

OBSERVATIONS

ON

ITS

LIFE

AND

HABITS

THE following observations were made by me on the life and habits of this species of Digger Wasp during the months of June, July, August, September and October, 1951-52, at nests in a decaying railroad sleeper, Bury St. Edmunds, and in rotten willow tree trunks at West Stow Sewage Farm. D I G G I N G AND EXCAVATION OF NESTS.

This species of Digger in some cases is not truly solitary and is so only up to the excavating of and storing their cells with flies, laying their eggs thereon and sealing it up.

British Macro-Lepidoptera for 1953  
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