Suffolk Moth Group Newsletter
Issue 20 - August 2000
Edited by Jon Nicholls
In this issue
Traditionally this is the busiest time of the year for entomology and a
lot seems to be going on around Suffolk. At last we have had some
reasonable weather over the past few months of summer even if July was
pretty poor. The numbers of species found on most Friday nights has
been well up into three figures most of the time and my actinic garden
trap has been producing thirty or so, which is as good as it gets here
After several years of reported sightings of the White-mantled Wainscot
Tony Prichard has found it at several sites around Minsmere and Dunwich
this year. Also the rare Monopis
monachella, only found reliably in a
few tetrads in Suffolk, has shown itself to be abundant in the
marshes along the coast this year.
As we move towards the autumn the trees are changing and the moths with
them but there is still a lot of light trapping left so happy hunting.
Changes since Morley : Notodontidae
- Jon Nicholls
In 1937 Morley published the “Final Catalogue of the Lepidoptera of
Suffolk”. It contains a wealth of information on the then current
knowledge of lepidoptera in Suffolk. What follows is a comparison of
the changes that seem to have occurred to the distribution of the
members of the Notodontidae.
These are medium-sized moths which often have a tuft of scales on the
hind margin of the forewing which projects when the moth is at rest -
hence the name ’Prominents’. There are twenty-seven species, of which
twenty-three are resident in the UK.
Both the males and females are unable to feed and so are not attracted
to flowers or sugar and are difficult to locate during the day. The
males are frequently attracted to light and the females also come but
to a lesser extent. All of the larvae feed on trees or shrubs such as
oak, aspen, poplar, hazel, birch and sallow.
The following is a summary of the status of these moths in Morley's
catalogue compared to their current status as we understand it.
Buff-tip; Morley states "Very
common in Suffolk, usually feeding on lime, rarely flies to light,
little noticed in west Suffolk". It is still a very common moth. We
have had over two hundred records since 1990 and these include the west
of the county as well as the rest of Suffolk. The improvement in MV
lights would likely account for this extra coverage and one can presume
that its distribution has changed little since Morley.
Puss Moth; Morley states that
it was "frequent everywhere throughout east Suffolk on poplar and
sallow, remarkably not met with in west Suffolk". This moth has
recently been found throughout Suffolk, including the west, with nearly
forty records. Again it is possible that its apparent absence from west
Suffolk was erroneous however Morley states that its absence is
Alder Kitten; Morley states
that there was only "one sole record in Suffolk from Elmsett near
Hadleigh". Recent records have been just as elusive with only one
confirmed recent sighting in Ipswich in 1997.
Sallow Kitten; Morley states
"scarcer than poplar but equally widespread, excepting in the
north-east, whence are few records" . It would now seem to be just as
widespread with over ninety recent records but it is still absent from
the north-east and the south-west of the county. This may be due to the
lack of recording in these areas and it will be interesting to see if
the increased effort by the SMG to cover the county more widely will
turn up any more sightings.
Poplar Kitten; Morley states
that it is to be found "over the whole county, Sudbury, Bentley,
Waldringfield, Martlesham, Ipswich, Witnesham, Monks Soham, Needham,
Barsham, Lowestoft, Gorleston, Downham, Brandon, Tuddenham and
Timworth". This would now seem to be a much scarcer moth, with only a
dozen recent records, it is found only occasionally at light.
Lobster Moth; Morley states
that it is "widespread, but quite rare with us, occurring almost always
singly, but the insect must be very rare in west Suffolk". With
over thirty recent records this would seem to indicate that the Lobster
Moth has become more abundant recently. However many of the records are
from the Thetford area, with another small cluster around Minsmere, and
so I would suggest that this is still an infrequent visitor to moth
traps around the county.
Iron Prominent; Morley states
that it is "uncommon and usually found singly, rare". With over two
hundred recent records the occurrence of this moth is now anything but
rare. It is found throughout the county and seems to turn up wherever
we are mothing in May and June.
Large Dark Prominent; A migrant
yet to be found in Suffolk.
Three-humped Prominent; Morley
states that it "was taken at a gas-lamp at Ipswich about 1867 and a
male similarly flew to light in a shop-window at Southwold, 1884". We
have not had any further records of this rare migrant in Suffolk since
Pebble Prominent; Morley
states that it is "not very frequent". This is another species, like
the Iron prominent, that is now a widespread and common moth found
throughout the county.
Tawny Prominent; A migrant yet
to be found in Suffolk.
Great Prominent; Morley is less
precise here stating it is "tolerably plentiful at Playford, found
sparingly round Stowmarket, Nayland : Copdock at light, and eggs in
Bentley Woods". This would imply that it was not a very common moth.
Although it is still not very widespread, being found mainly towards
the Brecks and on the Sandlings, I suspect it is found more readily at
present possibly due to the use of MV light traps.
Lesser Swallow Prominent;
Morley states that it was "scattered sparingly over the entire county,
Playford, Ipswich, Blythburgh, Lowestoft, Worlingham, Hopton, Ampton,
West Stow, Tuddenham". This is now a frequently encountered moth with
records from most corners of the county.
Swallow Prominent; Morley
states that it is "considered to be rare by Paget in Yarmouth, thought
actually commoner then the last species in Ipswich, uncommon about
Stowmarket". With well over two hundred recent records covering most of
Suffolk this is now a common species.
Coxcomb Prominent; Morley
states that this moth is "widespread, in at least the east, and not
rare; usually taken by casual beating hedges, occasionally at Ipswich
lights". This moth is still widespread and common throughout the county.
Maple Prominent; Morley states
that "this rare central European Prominent occurs but singly, at long
intervals, one at Playford in March 1857, six or seven taken during the
last few years within a few miles of Stowmarket, one beautiful example
taken by myself on nettles close beside the river Deben’s creek at
Martlesham in 1900". This moth is now widespread, but rarely
abundant, in East Anglia and is found throughout Suffolk, with over one
hundred recent records.
Scarce Prominent; Morley again
states that "this rare central European Prominent is as rare in Britain
as the last one, not been observed since the Revd. Joseph Greene wrote
of it in Playford :- one larva, which however unhappily died in
1858". There are no new records of this moth in Suffolk although
Skinner states it to be “ widely distributed in southern and south-east
Pale Prominent; Morley states
that this moth is "by no means infrequent at light in August at
Copdock, Ipswich, Playford, Martlesham, Monks Soham, Wangford and
Beccles". With over two hundred recent records this is one of the most
common Notodontids in the county and has probably increased in
abundance since Morley’s time.
White Prominent; Not recorded
Plumed Prominent; Not recorded
by Morley. We have only a few recent records of this local species
showing that if it was present it may well have been overlooked by
Marbled Brown; Morley states
that this moth was "very plentiful , two hundred dug in one week at
Playford, also at Woolverstone, Stowmarket, Nayland, Bentley, Copdock,
Ipswich, Martlesham, Henham, Sotterley, Beccles, Fritton, West Stow,
Tuddenham, Barton Mills and Wangford". We have over one hundred
recent records from most areas of the county showing that this oak
feeder is still as abundant as ever it was.
Lunar Marbled Brown; Morley
states that this moth is "apparently somewhat local in Suffolk, mainly
around Ipswich where a few came to light in mid-April 1894". Still a
local species, however this oak feeder is now found throughout Suffolk
albeit in small numbers.
Dusky Marbled Brown; Not
recorded in Suffolk.
Small Chocolate-tip; Morley
states that this moth is "Not very scarce and widely distributed, not
uncommon at Brandeston, discovered at Bentley where it would seem now
extinct". There have been no records of this moth since Morley,
it would now appear to be extinct in Suffolk.
Scarce Chocolate-tip; A rare
migrant with only three records in Suffolk, one in 1898 in Ipswich, one
in 1956 in Waldringfield and one in 1976 in Southwold.
Chocolate-tip; Morley states
that this moth is "now certainly commoner than the last species (Small
Chocolate-tip), Copdock at light in 1896, occasionally at light in
Ipswich". This is still a local species found throughout Suffolk but
only in small numbers. It could be that this is another Notodontid moth
with a reduced distribution since Morley.
Figure of Eight; Morley
regarded this moth as a member of the Plusiinae and states it to be
"extremely abundant on whitethorn". Although this is regarded as a
common species we only have three recent records for it in Suffolk.
WANTED - Records of Beetles at light -
Work is progressing well on gathering records for the new "Coleoptera"
of the county which is to be published by The Suffolk Naturalists’
Society. With the very active recording programme of The Suffolk Moth
Group I have been aware for some time that a potential source of
many interesting records of beetles from across the county is being
lost. I would be very grateful, therefore, for any specimens (alive or
dead) of beetles taken at light (especially the insignificant
looking ones!) to be sent to me with date, locality and 4- or 6-fig.
N.G. ref. Plastic film containers or blood sampling mini phials travel
safely and cheaply. If you are certain of the identification then
records without supporting material could be acceptable e.g. if you can
distinguish between the black silphids Nicrophorus humator and Necrodes
littoralis or know the large characteristic ladybirds. You might even
achieve fame by discovering the large (12 - 17 mm) oedemerid Oncomera
femorata new to the county if you are trapping near to old ivy this
autumn. All collectors contributing specimens or records will be fully
acknowledged in the book. Please help if you can.
Send records to : David Nash, 3 Church Lane, Brantham, Suffolk CO11
1PU. Or e-mail : email@example.com
from recorders around the county
: Felixstowe. Recorder : Jon
June –August 2000.
seemed to improve in June with weekly totals reaching three figures in
my actinic trap. The number of species found was also up as more and
came to light. The most abundant species have been, not surprisingly,
and Dart, Mottled Rustic and Large Yellow Underwing closely followed by
Riband Wave, Willow Beauty, Lime-speck pug and Dark arches.
species have been Peacock, Catoptria
falsella, Galeria mellonella,
Phoenix, Figure of Eighty, Vestal (a beautiful migrant), Gothic,
pallida and, feeding on the petunias during the day, a
also had four Old Ladys in the trap in August, I usually get one but
year has been exceptional. Also after a poor start another five
acroxantha turned up in July to confirm that the colony is still
somewhere in Felixstowe. On the 23rd August another Cypress Pug
to go with the one I had last year, Has anyone else found this moth in
the area, there is certainly plenty of food plant for them!
: Eye. Recorder : Paul
June - July
reports that poor weather has restricted his catches but he put out his
trap on 14 occasions and has had the following; Beautiful Golden Y,
Buttoned Snout, Cream-bordered Green Pea, Double Lobed, Elephant Hawk,
Fen Wainscot, Green Silver-lines, Herald, Lime Hawk, Marbled White
Peach Blossom, Phoenix, Shark, Small Elephant Hawk, Cryptoblabes
and Myelois circumvoluta.
: Ipswich Golf Club. Recorder : Neil Sherman. May - July 2000.
numbers in May have been below average, with few species reaching
figures in the trap. 67 macros were recorded, most towards the end of
month. May began with the tail end of the spring species, including
green, good numbers of Seraphim, Great prominent, Hebrew character and
Clouded drab. The first hawk moth also appeared, a Poplar on the 6th.
Orange footman appeared again this year, being noted on the 8th, 14th
16th, all as singletons. Other highlights have included: Powdered
(after the first ones last month, seen again on the 8th - has been in
numbers at several sites this year), 2 Ochreous pug (on the 14th),
pinion spotted, Yellow belle, Eyed hawk (perched on the clubhouse wall
on the 31st), Birch mocha, lots of Brown silver lines (as usual!),
of 80, Lime hawk, Common heath (seen by day on heather) and on the last
night (31st) the Plain golden y, a new site record. Micro numbers
increased, with good numbers of the common Eriocrania subpurpurella,
Scoparia ambigualis and Adela reaumerella (swarming round
Oaks during the day). Of interest were: Phtheochroa rugosana (seen
at a number of sites this year), Eulia
(good numbers around the foodplant, Wood sage) and Micropterix
on Marsh marigold flowers.
was a much better month, with a wonderful spell of warm humid nights
month enabling a good list of 128 macros and 55 micros to be recorded.
Seen this month were: Barred red, Blotched emerald, Bordered white (all
in good numbers), Common Lutestring (one on the 28th), Gold swift,
yellow wave, Orange footman (3 on the 3rd were the last of the year),
wave, Festoon (singles on the 19th and 28th, 5 on the 20th), Pinion
snout (singles on the 18th and 20th), six species of hawk moth: Lime,
Elephant, Small elephant, Privet and 2 Pine hawks (back after a years
The best night was the 17th/18th when 100 species were recorded, the
moths being: Broad barred white, Foxglove pug, Grass emerald, Large
(an early one!), Lunar yellow Underwing, White point and 2 new site
Dusky brocade and Sloe pug (confirmed by comparison with a specimen
from a larva I had obtained from another site). Freyer's pug, another
site record was also seen this month (16th), bringing the Golf club
up to 364 macros. Also seen this month during the day was reasonable
of Silver y and Nomophila noctuella,
indicating that a migration
had taken place. The caterpillars of Beautiful yellow Underwing,
Fox and Drinker have also been found whilst working on site, even
I have not seen any of these species as adults so far this year! Micros
have also become more abundant with notables including: huge numbers of
Tortrix viridana (over 200 a
night during the warm spell) and Platytes
(on the 16th), Triaxomera parasitella
(a tineid seen on 16th and
19th), Batia lambdella, Eudonia pallida (on the 18th), Arygresthia
phasianipenella (back after first being
seen last year), Myelois cribrella
(the Thistle ermine on the 20th),
Monopsis obviella (also on the
20th), Homeosoma sinuella
and good numbers of the migrant Plutella
should be the best month of the year for mothing, but this year it did
not live up to expectations. Dull, cold and wet weather dominated the
of the month, more like autumn than summer, so no trapping was done at
all between the 3rd and the 18th. Despite this 102 species of macro
recorded at the beginning and end of the month. Of interest were; Gold
swift, Short cloaked, Dotted fan foot, the strangely shaped Lilac
Shaded fan-foot (a singleton) all on the 3rd, second brood Purple thorn
(in good numbers on the 19th), Grass emerald, Canary shouldered thorn
the 27th and 31st: autumn is coming!), Plain wave, Lackey (back after
years absence), a big furry female Oak Eggar (31st), Broom tip (another
species not seen for a few years), Pinion streaked snout (numerous here
and at a few other sites this year) Common Lutestring, Buff footman,
brindle and 2 more Pine hawks after the first of the year last month.
new macro species were also seen: the Rufous minor (on the 3rd) and the
Southern wainscot (on the 27th-this species seems to be on the increase
in the county being noted at several other sites this year). Daytime
this month were: Emperor larvae (numerous on heather around the site),
Broad bordered bee hawk moth larvae (fully grown specimens on low
Honeysuckle found on the 19th), a Small elephant hawk larva (green
on the 26th and the Beautiful yellow Underwing feeding at heather
on the 31st. Micro numbers have not been too good this month but a few
notables have occurred. These were: Orthopygia
(on the 27th), Pediasia contaminella
(towards the end of the month),
Schoenobius gigantella (2 on
the 27th), Caloptillia stigmatella
(also on the 27th), the pretty little tortrix Acleris holmiana (31st),
Batia lunaris and lots of Synaphe punctalis (as usual at
this time of year here).
Suffolk Moth Survey
Aldringham Walks—26th May 2000
Cancelled due to bad weather.
Raydon - 2nd June 2000.
Raydon Great wood is an ancient woodland near Hadleigh that used to
carry a railway line through the middle but this is now a public
bridleway. Several areas along this bridleway have been cleared and
coppiced in an attempt to produce more open grassland. Six MV lights
were run and 77 species ventured out including: Poplar Lutestring,
Seraphim ( both aspen feeders), Least Black Arches (lichen), Mocha
(maple), Flame Carpet, Pretty Chalk Carpet, Barred Red (conifers),
Teleiodes luculella, Large
Nutmeg, Lobster, Ancylis laetana,
Beck Row - 9th June 2000.
Beck Row is an unusual area of Breck type grassland with 180 pollarded
oaks near Mildenhall. Four MV traps were put out and 86 species were
attracted including: Cream-spot Tiger, Fox, Sitochroa verticalis,
Evergestis extimalis, Satin
Wave, Small Elephant Hawk-moth, Common
Swift, Sandy Carpet, Buff Arches, Lychnis, Figure of Eighty, Pale Oak
Beauty, Maiden's Blush, Burnished Brass, Purple Bar, Blotched Emerald,
Cinnabar, Peppered, Silver Y, Elephant Hawk-moth, Poplar Hawk-moth,
Eyed Hawk-moth, Thisanotia
chrysonuchella, Four-dotted Footman,
Netted Pug ( a widespread species but rare visitor to light, it feeds
on bladder campion) and Grey Carpet ( a Breckland species that again
does not often come to light).
West Stow - 16th June 2000.
West Stow is well known for the Anglo Saxon village but it is
surrounded by an excellent variety of habitats. The River Lark slowly
flows over a sandy bed and there are areas of grassland and woodland as
well. This year we found over 130 species including; Heart and Club,
Cream-spot Tiger, Ostrinia nubilalis (European Corn-borer), Marbled
White-spot, May Highflyer, Small Yellow Wave, Bird's Wing, Small
Elephant Hawk-moth, Marbled Brown, Small Clouded Brindle, Small
Seraphim, Brown Rustic, Shoulder-striped Wainscot, Fox, Clouded Buff,
Pine Hawk-moth, Lobster, Barred Red, Clouded-bordered Brindle, Pempelia
palumbella, Shaded Pug, Royal Mantle, Rosy Footman, True Lover's Knot,
Lunar Yellow Underwing, Dingy Shears, Pale-shouldered Brocade, Eyed
Hawk-moth, Cream-bordered Green Pea, Large Emerald, Nascia cilialis,
Adela croesella (not at light).
Boyton Marshes - 23rd June 2000.
Boyton Marshes is a coastal grazing marsh owned by the RSPB near
Orfordness, it has a substantial area of salt-marsh bordering the
Butley River. The weather was not ideal with temperatures around 10oC.
Over 60 species were eventually found including; Mathew's
Wainscot (a saltmarsh-grass feeder), Water Ermine (only found in East
Anglia), Rosy Wave, Agdistis bennetii
(plume feeding on sea-lavender),
Dotted Fan-foot, Double Dart, Drinker, Elephant Hawk-moth, Poplar
Hawk-moth, Eyed Hawk-moth, Double Dart and Cream-spot Tiger. Migrants
included Nomophila noctuella
(Rush Veneer), Plutella xylostella
(Diamond-back) and Silver Y.
Pashford Poors - 30th June 2000.
Pashford Poors Fen is situated in the north-west of the county near
Lakenheath. It is in the process of drying out but still has a rich
flora and in addition to the fen has a small area of
heathland. With over 100 species there was an excellent
variety found including; a day flying Forester arriving at dusk to the
light, Blackneck, Evergestis
extimalis, Dark Umber, Coronet, White
Colon, Sitochroa verticalis,
Dingy Shears, Four-dotted Footman, Eucosma
campoliliana, Wood Carpet, Pale-shouldered Brocade, Dog's Tooth,
Triple-spotted Clay, Dotted Fan-foot, Drinker, Buff Arches, Green
Silver-lines, Small Elephant Hawk-moth, Peach Blossom, Elephant
Hawk-moth, Coronet, Iron Prominent, Lychnis, Poplar Hawk-moth, Eyed
Hawk-moth, Dusky Brocade, Broom, Evergestis
Sizewell Belts - 7th July 2000
The area called Sizewell Belts contains a variety of habitats including
deciduous and coniferous woodland, fen, grassland, marshland and sand
dunes. This visit we concentrated on the more coastal areas of the
reserve and drove the cars down to the sand dunes just north of the
With 4 four lights running we managed to record 75 species. Nothing
really spectacular but more notable moths included; Dotted Fan-foot, a
few Garden Tigers, Bordered Sallow, Cochylis
pallidata, Synaphe punctalis,
Drinker, V-Pug, Peppered, Privet Hawk, Small Elephant Hawk,
Buff-tip, Lychnis, Bird’s Wing, Bordered Sallow, Marasmarcha
lunaedactyla. A Clouded Magpie was also noticed in car
headlights as we
met up in the car park on the way out.
Bentley Long Wood - 21st July 2000
This site is the remnant of a piece of ancient woodland that was
previously famous for its lepidoptera - notably butterflies - with
people traveling up on the train from London to visit the site. The
recent building of the A12 has reduced the size of the wood. We are
currently surveying the wood to see what remains in terms of its moth
flora. Four MV lights were run in the southern half of the wood. What
was particularly memorable about this night was the large number of
micro-lepidoptera, especially tortrix species; with large numbers of
Pandemis cerasana, Ditula angustiorana and Archips xylosteana. The
occurrence of Shaded Fan-foot adds this wood to the list of woods
around Ipswich were this RDB moth is found. Species of note recorded;
Athrips mouffetella, Teleiodes luculella, Synaphe punctalis, Poplar
Lutestring, Slender Brindle, Oak Nycteoline and Shaded Fan-foot.
Thelnetham Fen - 28th July 2000
This small area of Fen, only 9 hectares, is situated on the northern
border of Suffolk. The fen is dominated by great fen-sedge and black
bog-rush with grass-of-Parnassus in the calcium rich flushes. The old
fen is mainly alder carr close to the River Ouse.
Some of the more interesting moths included; Cochylis dubitana,
Cochylis hybridella, Acleris holmiana, Acleris shepherdana, Epinotia
cruciana, Agriphila selasella,
Chevron, Dark Umber, Bordered Beauty,
White Satin, Suspected, Ghost, Peach Blossom, Privet Hawk, Poplar Hawk,
Sallow Kitten, Olive, Dingy Shears, Slender Brindle, Double Lobed,
Small Rufous, Silver Hook, Nut-tree Tussock, Blackneck and Dotted
Reydon Wood - 4th August
This attractive little wood near Southwold is a remnant of a much
bigger medieval wood. It contains hornbeam, hazel, ash and field maple
that were once all coppiced. Three decades ago speculative industrial
conifers were planted but these are now being removed by local
volunteers to return the wood to its traditional roots.
Several lights were set up and good numbers of Acleris laterana, Black
Arches and 5 adults of Scallop Shell were attracted. Other species of
interest; Ebulea crocealis,
Lesser-spotted Pinion, Ghost, Leopard,
Blue-bordered Carpet, Privet Hawk, Poplar Hawk, Elephant Hawk, Olive,
Dunwich Heath— 11th August 2000
This is a National Trust owned site just north of Minsmere offering
mainly heathland habitat but bordering onto the reedbeds in the
northern part of Minsmere (Scottshall Covert). 7 Lights were split
between the heathland area and the area adjacent to the reedbed. A
clear sky and fullish moon, with lots of shooting stars, probably
didn't help things.
A couple of White-mantled Wainscot were recorded, with one picked up
from the heathland area. Another species of note was the tineid Monopis
monachella which seems to be doing well in the area between Sizewell
and Dunwich. Other species noteworthy species included; Chilo
gigantella, Eudonia pallida,
Pempelia palumbella, Kent
Black Arches, Star-wort, Silky Wainscot, Reed