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TRANSACTIONS A REVIEW OF BRITISH LEPIDOPTERA FOR 1954 By BARON DE WORMS, M.A., PH.D., F.L.S., F.R.E.S. AFTER the extremely cold spell at the end of January and the Start

of February the early species of moths and the usual hibernating butterflies appeared on time and in average numbers, though the Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae Linn.), so common in the autumn of 1953, was quite scarce the following spring. The sallows were out by the end of March and were well patronised by the usual noctuid moths. Two remarkable captures at this period were entirely melanic specimens of the Oak Beauty (Biston strataria Hufn.). One of this very rare form which had not been seen for many years, was caught in East Suffolk and the other at Ashford in Kent. April proved to be one of the fewfineand dry months. The Emperor moth (Saturniapavonia Linn.), was already well on the wing by the middle of April. The Scarce Prominent (Odontosia carmelita Esp.) was taken in the South of England on the 18th and in south-west Ireland for thefirsttime at the end of the month. The spring Pierid butterflies were Aying by Easter, April 18th, especialy the Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines Linn.), but the Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus Linn.) was noticeably absent. The Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Clossiana euphrosyne Linn.) was on the wing in Sussex on May 8, but neither this insect or the Small Pearl-bordered (C. selene Schiff.) were at all plentiful. Among the more frequent migrant species a few Death's Heads (Acherontia atropos Linn.) were reported in May, but it was towards the end of this month that thefirstrarity appeared. This was an example of the Purple Cloud (Actinotia perspicillaris Linn.) caught on the Essex coast. This insect had not been reported in this country for a great many years. Two more were obtained in Sussex in June, evidently indicating quite an immigration. Several specimens of the Delicate (Leucania vitellina HĂźbn.) were captured on the south coast in May. About this time too no less than fourteen examples of the Alder Kitten (Cerura bicuspis Borkh.) were taken in one night at light in the Midlands, while others again appeared in Sussex and Cheshire. Both June and July turned out most unpropitious with the result that many butterflies were distinctly scarce and late. This was particularly apparent with the Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia Linn.) and the




White Admiral (Limenitis Camilla Linn.) in most areas. The Purple Emperor (Apatura iris Linn.), however was reasonably numerous, someone even claiming to have seen thirty in a day. Düring this period of the summer a further watch was kept for the Eastern Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis xanthomelas Esp.) of which the first specimen recorded for the British Isles was taken in mid-Kent in early July, 1953, but owing to its superficial similarity tö the usual Large Tortoiseshell (N. polychloros Linn.) its true identity was not established tili a considerable time after capture. This last species was again fairly common in the Eastern Counties in the spring of 1954. Among the moths the record of six Marsh Moths (Hydrillula palustris Hübn.) at Holme Fen in early June was a very noteworthy occurence, while it was also welcome news that the Viper's Bugloss (Anepis irregularis Hufn.) has reappeared in fair numbers in one of the few spots in the Breckland area where the Nottingham Catchfly (Silene otites) still flourishes. Larvae of the Toadflax Brocade (Calophasia lunula Hufn.) were to be found in quantity towards the end of June on parts of the south coast with another brood in September when they were discovered feeding well inland for the first time. The Banded Carpet (Euphyia luctuata Schiff.) seemed to be steadily increasingits ränge in the south-east, while the Varied Coronet (Hadena compta Fab.) was again reported from Suffolk with two specimens together with several records of it from Essex for the first time. At the end of July the Sussex Wainscot (Nonagria neurica Hübn.) was taken quite plentifully in East Suffolk. The Wormwood Shark (Cucullia absinthii Linn.) was also noted from this region. It now seems to be spreading steadily eastwards over the southern part of the Country. August was also a fickle month. In Eire the Claddagh (Calamia virens Linn) once more appeared in some numbers. The Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra coridon Pod.) was in great profusion in most of its downland haunts, producing several fine aberrations. At the end of August took place a remarkable immigration of the Golden-rod Brindle (Lithomoia solidaginis Hübn.). This northerly species in Britain is seldom seen south of Derbyshire. It was, therefore surprising when about twenty examples in all were recorded from the south-east coast, also from the Eastern and Home Counties and from the Midlands. The special dark form proved to one emanating from Northern Germany. In the late summer the commoner migrant hawk-moths were almost absent, especially the Convolvulus (Herse convolvuli Linn.). Even the Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus Fourc.) and the Painted Lady (Pyrameis cardui Linn.) were very scarce. However, several very rare species of moths were captured in the early autumn. These included a Dumeril's Rustic (Luperina dutnerillii Dup.) from Kent in mid-September and two examples of Blair's Pinion (Graptolitha



lapidea Hübn.) from Eastbourne in early October. These were only the second and third British records for this species. Two further specimens of the Silver Spangle (Plusia confusa Steph.) were reported from localities as far apart as Penrith and Ashford in Kent. The third British example of the Eastern Blackneck (Tathorhyncus exsiccata Led.) was taken in Cornwall, while a new noctuid emanating from North America, Plusia biloba Steph, was recorded from Wales. Among the more regulär migrant moths several of the Whitepoint (Leucania unipuncta Haw.) were captured along the south coast. But by far the most spectacular event of the season took place in the first days of October in south-east Kent where a considerable number of the Giant Ear (Hydraecia hucherardi Mab.) were obtained at light, only eight have been seen in 1953. The discovery that the larvae feed in the roots of the Marsh Mallow (Althea officinalis) was one of the most notable contributions to British Entomlogy in recent years. Apart from these rarities the usual species of moths which appear in the autumn were distinctly scarce, but in spite of the extremely unpropitious weather during the summer 1954 was by no means an unproductive year. March, 1955.


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




In " Collecting Lepidoptera in the Eastern Counties ; Some Reminiscences " (Trans, viii. 43) I mentioned a number of species whose headquarters can be said to be still in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdon. I have thought it of interest to say something about the present and past status of these insects most of which can be classed as very local. I do not propose, however, to enumerate a number of species which were formerly found chiefly in this area, but are now presumed to be virtually extinct throughout the British Isles. These include the following nine insects :—The Large Copper (Lycaena dispar

British Lepidoptera for 1954  
British Lepidoptera for 1954