Suffolk Moth Group Newsletter

Issue 29 - Summer 2003

Edited by Tony Prichard

In this issue

Editorial

Another season is well under way and it has been a good year so far for migrants in the county. I have received many reports of Hummingbird Hawk-moth and Silver Ys. Landguard have had some very notable records with Pale-shouldered Cloud (x2), Spurge Hawk-moth and Tree-lichen Beauty. Recorders generally have been reporting that the season so far has shown a marked improvement on recent years - reminiscent of the mid-1990s.

The events list has been progressing well apart from the annual lack of success with the nighttime larval hunt. This year we have seen several new faces appearing at the moth night meetings, which is encouraging as news of the moth group spreads within the county and elsewhere, even more encouraging is that the new members have come back again for further meetings.

Surveys this year have had mixed success; Marbled Clover and False Mocha have gone poorly whereas Buttoned Snout has been surprisingly successful - more on these later in the newsletter.

One of the key features within the newsletter is the reports from recorders around the county. I am keen to encourage more recorders to provide summaries of their recent findings for this section - it saves me thinking of what to write and is probably more interesting. The format of this section is completely flexible and articles can be either short or long (but not too long), whatever takes your fancy. The key aspect is that they reflect what the recorder thinks is of note - I would not be too worried about the significance of records from a county/countrywide context. The next issue of this newsletter will probably be out in early September so I'd be grateful to any recorders who could provide recording summaries for July and August for the next newsletter or any other articles that may be of interest. It's your newsletter after all.

A planning phase is under way for a national macro-moth recording scheme for Britain. I have had some involvement as a representative for of an active moth group. This could be a truly significant project pulling together data on a national level but it is still early days yet - more details later on.
 

Cnephasias in Suffolk - Jon Clifton

This brief article summarises the distribution in Suffolk of this small group of drab, mainly dark moths belonging to the Tortricoid family. There are nine species that occur in Britain of which seven have been recorded in Suffolk. Due to their similarities they can be quite tricky to identify in the field and in most cases usually have to resort to examination of the genitalia for positive identification.

I have been examining this group for about five years and special thanks must be made to all those members in the SMG for passing onto me specimens of this group over the past few years.

Cnephasia longana is one of the easiest to identify in the field differing from the other Cnephasia by its unicolorous pale ocherous, long forewings. Usually not requiring examination of the genitalia although some tricky all pale forms have been recorded and could be confused with other tortricids. In Suffolk this species is widespread and common and like all the Cnephasia, can be found over a wide range of habitats from gardens to woodland and along the coast.

Cnephasia communana is the earliest of this group to emerge and the only one on the wing during most of May. About the size of stephensiana and on the specimens I have seen they usually have a paler ground colour and paler brownish cross markings (fascia). Overall it creates a more washed out moth than stephensiana. Only three records all from the Brecks area of Suffolk. It seems quite likely that this species is very much on the decline so I would be very interested to hear of any May Cnephasia’s and would be grateful if recorders could send specimens on to me for checking.
 

Cnephasia longana distribution
Cnephasia communana distribution

Cnephasia conspersana resembles C. stephensiana in size but has the apex of the forewing more pronounced, more ‘pointed’ than in that species, especially noticeable on the set specimen. The forewing is pale greyish (a paler ground colour than stephensiana) mixed with darker grey markings. Only four records, from Ipswich, Great Cornard, the Waverney Valley and Thurston.

Cnephasia stephensiana  is the largest of the British Cnephasia with relatively broad forewings having a dark ground colour and dark grey fascia. Although this is true of most specimens there are small individuals that can resemble incertana and it is here that caution must be expressed. Along with longana it is the commonest Cnephasia in Suffolk with widespread records throughout the county.
 
Cnephasia conspersana distribution
Cnephasia stephensiana distribution

Cnephasia asseclana is smaller than C. stephansiana but with similar dark markings so could quite easily be confused with small specimens of that species. I usually find it has a more scalloped look to it than other Cnephasia. Quite a common member of the group so I find it odd that although the moth is fairly widespread in the west of the county (VC26) there are only two records in the east (VC25). Obviously overlooked.

Cnephasia genitalana at first glance looks like a small worn Cnephasia and something not worth hanging on to but this I almost find characteristic of this species with its pale whitish-grey ground colour and indistinct fascia. First discovered in Suffolk at Lakenheath Fen in 2000 with further records from Ipswich, Great Cornard and Thurston.  A species that seems to be increasing in East Anglia.
 
Cnephasia asseclana distribution
Cnephasia genitalana distribution

Cnephasia incertana is another ‘small’ Cnephasia about the size of C. asseclana, but having paler forewing colour and ill-defined fascia (not as pale as genitalana). This is another member of the family I believe to be on the decrease in general in the east and with only a hand full of record’s from both the east and west of Suffolk it is something to keep an eye on so any possible specimens are required for conformation.
 

Cnephasia incertana distribution

Cnephasia pasiuana. Although there are no records from Suffolk it is known from Essex and is a species to look out for. It resembles genitalana in its washed out appearance and size. Any possibilities will be greatly appreciated.

To conclude, any Cnephasia’s in the month of May are worth a second look, we need more information on Cnephasia incertana, and all my ‘rarer’ Cnephasia (conspersana, genitalana and pasiuana have been taken in late July and into August)

Specimens to be sent to:
Jon Clifton, Kestrel Cottage, Station Road, Hindolveston, Norfolk, NR20 5DE.
 

Announcement - Towards a National Recording Scheme for Macro-moths

In recent months, Butterfly Conservation has held exploratory talks on the development of a National Recording Scheme for Macro-moths with representatives of the British Entomological and Natural History Society, Royal Entomological Society, Biological Records Centre, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, English Nature, Rothamsted Insect Survey and others. These discussions have identified the need for a thorough planning phase as a first step to towards the establishment of a new scheme. On behalf of Butterfly Conservation and the other partners, we are undertaking the planning phase until March 2004.

The three key aims of the planning phase are:

Depending on the planning phase results and on overcoming the considerable obstacle of obtaining appropriate funds, it is anticipated that a national recording scheme could be started as early as 2005 or 2006. In the meantime, Butterfly Conservation will continue to encourage greater awareness of moths and moth recording and recorders should continue to support local initiatives and county recorders. As mentioned above, a wide consultation will be undertaken prior to the launch of the scheme and the active involvement of moth recorders and groups in the development of a new recording scheme will be sought. In addition to talking directly to moth recorders and groups, we would welcome your feedback, thoughts and concerns, which can be directed through our web site www.recordingmoths.org.uk or by writing to Adrian Spalding at Spalding Associates, Norfolk House, 16/17 Lemon Street, Truro TR1 2LS.

We hope that we will be able to count on your support.

Adrian Spalding and Mark Tunmore
July 2003

(TP. Currently as I put this newsletter together the website is not yet up but I gather should be shortly.)
 

Buckler Larvae of the British Butterflies and Moths CD Rom

I mentioned in the last newsletter that a CD version was being produced of Buckler's 'Larvae of the British Butterflies and Moths'. I understand that the CD of the first volume is now available from Pisces Conservation. This CD covers the butterflies and is available for £20 including package and posting. I have not seen the final product so I cannot comment on the quality - if anyone would like to buy it and produce a review for the newsletter I'd be glad to hear from them. The amount of interest shown in this CD will affect the priority given to the order in which the other Ray Society works are produced. This could be an opportunity to express your wishes to the publisher as to what volumes you would like to see produced first (the tortrix volumes come to mind). Pisces Conservation can be found at www.pisces-conservation.com or PISCES Conservation Ltd, IRC House, The Square, Pennington, Lymington, Hants., SO41 8GN. Telephone : 01590 676622.
 

New Pug Book - not the one we've all been waiting for or may be it is.

Colin Plant made me aware of the publication of the book 'The Geometrid Moths of Europe Volume 4' by Vladimir Mironov covering one of the trickier groups of macro-moths. Identification of this group is not helped by the plate in Skinner not being particularly clear. The plates in this book, however, are reasonably clear and images of the set moths in the plates are at x1.5 magnification.  The larger than lifesize images certainly make a difference in picking out the features. I've not used it too much in real anger yet but the Valerian Pug recorded at Minsmere was easy to confirm based on the plate and text. The text is in English and has useful diagnostic features highlighted for distinguishing similar species. Distribution maps are obviously at a higher level than a purely British book but are still useful.  This would certainly appear a book worth looking at if you are interested in this group but it is rather expensive at around £80. ISBN - 87-88757-40-4 published by Apollo Books.
 

Clearwing News

Adrian Parr has been having rather more success than I've had with the pheromone lures. He recently reported attracting several Red-tipped Clearwings to lures at Hengrave along the River Lark. I am not aware of any other records of this species occurring in the county.

Adrian also reports continued success with Red-belted Clearwing at his local orchard in Barrow.
 

Marbled Clover update

One of the species that was suggested as a species to particularly look out for this year was the Marbled Clover. Since its peak in the mid-1990s only one or two records have been received for this species each year. I have done some searching this year in both the Brecks and the Sandlings without any success. This has included visits to known sites at Aldeburgh/Thorpeness beach, Sizewell beach and the Kings Forest. However, I gather that David Young had better success than me when he saw the moth at Maidscross Hill on the 14th June 2003.
 

Buttoned Snout update

This is a species whose status as a BAP species is a bit contentious with some people. Recent larval surveys in other south-east counties seem to have shown that the moth is more prevalent than was originally thought. I and others have searched in previous years for this larva by beating hop but without much success. This year, however, has proven more successful with larvae being recorded from quite a few sites in Suffolk; two sites on the Shotley peninsula on the 6th July 2003, 11 sites in the south-west areas of the county on the 10th July 2003 and 5 further sites over the weekend by various recorders (Andy Musgrove, Neil Sherman, Rob Parker and myself). There is still some time to go out and look for this species - probably until mid-August. The map below shows the 10km squares for which we already have records. It would be good to increase the number of 10km squares where this species has been recorded. In the past I have used a beating tray to look for the larva but these can be awkward to get under the hop leaves, especially when it is in a hedge, and as the larvae are prone to thrown themselves off at the lightest touch I have recently been trying a new technique. Simply taking a butterfly net and stretching the netting to form a flat round tray makes it easier to place under the hop leaves, without disturbing the foliage. Rustling the leaves over the net causes the larvae to drop on to the net - seems to be successful given my limited experience trying it out so far.
 
Buttoned Snout larva © Tony Prichard
Buttoned Snout distribution

In the picture of the larva above note the three pairs of prolegs rather than the usual four pairs found in most noctuids. The light  dots on the  distribution map signify squares where larval records have been made this year, whereas dark dots show squares where we have adult only records.
 

Some Top Twenties

As a bit of light relief here are a couple of table listing the top twenty species for a couple of queries on the database. The first table shows the top twenty most widespread species in the county based on the database records.
 
B& F Name Numbers of 10km squares
2102 Flame Shoulder 51
1713 Riband Wave 50
1937 Willow Beauty 50
2107 Large Yellow Underwing 50
1304 Agriphila straminella 49
1738 Common Carpet 49
1906 Brimstone Moth  49
2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart 49
2199 Common Wainscot 49
2321 Dark Arches 49
2450 Spectacle 49
1405 Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis 48
2050 Common Footman 48
2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing 48
2111 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 48
2126 Setaceous Hebrew Character 48
2128 Double Square-spot 48
2160 Bright-line Brown-eye  48
2198 Smoky Wainscot 48
2441 Silver Y 48

This second table shows the top twenty most recorded species, simply the species for which we have the most records.
 

B & F Name Total numbers of records
2107 Large Yellow Underwing  1904
2102 Flame Shoulder 1292
2126 Setaceous Hebrew Character 1283
1906 Brimstone Moth 1198
2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart 1179
1713 Riband Wave 1105
2089 Heart & Dart 1094
2441 Silver Y 1078
2321 Dark Arches 1050
2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing 972
2477 Snout 934
2306 Angle Shades 915
2199 Common Wainscot 903
1405 Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis 902
1738 Common Carpet 896
2160 Bright-line Brown-eye 877
1937 Willow Beauty 849
1728 Garden Carpet 829
1076 Celypha lacunana 822
2450 Spectacle 820

How does this compare with your garden trap? This latter table in particular I think reflects the data generated by regularly recorded moth sites providing detailed data.
 

Web sites

You may be interested in a some new (at least to me) web sites for moth groups.

The Sussex Moth Group have a site at www.sussexmoths.org.uk. A rather garishly coloured site - advice is to put on some sunglasses before visiting this one. It would appear from the site that the Sussex Moth Group are rather well organised assemblage with a chairman, treasurer, secretary, etc. The site includes, the group's latest newsletter, programme of events, how to join the moth group, listing of Sussex rarities and related links. An interesting point is that the group has annual membership fee of £5 - the SMG must be great value for money in comparison.

The Kent Branch of Buttefly Conservation have a web site 'Kent Moths' at www.kentmoths.org. It would appear to be still early days for this site but it already has  a collection of photos, recent news, reports and checklist.

There's also a new web site for the Dorset Moth group at www.dorsetmothgroup.co.uk. A well produced site that contains the usual topics covered by most moth group sites but also has some interesting pages on day-flying moths, migrants and leaf mines.
 

Field reports

Tunstall Common - SMG Larval Search/Moth Night - 11th April 2003

In the true tradition of SMG night-time larval search meetings the weather was rather disappointing with fewer larvae noted than when searching for larvae earlier in the year. The most interesting event of the night was seeing several Diurnea fagella males on an oak tree-trunk fluttering their wings and the eventual discovery of the female that was causing the males to get into a flap.

Minsmere - SBBC Moth Night - National Moth Night - 12th April 2003

Not a particularly favourable night but the results were rather pleasing given the weather conditions. A good selection of spring species were seen. Several of the moth group went off in search of larvae and this also proved productive, with amongst others species; Large Twin-spot Carpet and a single final instar Lunar Yellow Underwing larva in what looked far from ideal habitat. Adults seen at light included; Water Carpet, Red Chestnut, Early Thorn and Satellite.

Tunstall Common - Moth Night - 17th April 2003

A rather quiet night with Narrow-winged Pug, Great Prominent, Pine Beauty and Red Chestnut.

Ramsey Wood - Moth Night - 18th April 2003

This wood continues to provide species of interest and at some stage a comparison  between nearby Wolves Wood and this wood, with their different management regimes, might provide some interesting results. From the 14 species recorded, the following were of note; Flame Carpet, Frosted Green, Water Carpet and Acleris cristana.

Rendlesham Forest, Friday Street - Moth Night - 26th April 2003

A rather successful night for the time of year in this river valley site hidden amongst the conifer plantations of Rendlesham Forest. 24 species recorded with Sallow Kitten, Scalloped Hook-tip, Birch Mocha, Great Prominent, Purple Thorn and Dwarf Pug being among the more noteworthy.

Rendlesham Forest, Tangham Valley - SMG Moth Night - 2nd May 2003

This meeting was cancelled due to heavy rain.

Shingle Street - Night-time Larval Search - 3rd May 2003

Based on the success of earlier larval searches we had been bitten by the bug for searching for larvae and this meeting, held on this private site,  was intended to search for larvae on the vegetated shingle with the hope of finding Feathered Brindle and Rosy Wave larvae. The former were found in abundance and rather pretty larvae they were too. No Rosy Wave larvae were found on the sea beet, although the species seems reasonably well established here, but searching the sea beet was not completely in vain as a single Yellow Belle larva was found.

Rendlesham Forest, Tangham Valley - Moth Night - 4th May 2003

As the meeting on the preceding Friday had been cancelled this meeting was held as a replacement and was rather productive with 65 species being recorded. This site is another river valley passing through the conifer plantations of Rendlesham Forest with areas of deciduous woodland next to the river and heathland nearby. Species of interest included; Birch Mocha, Least Black Arches, Peacock Moth, Alder Moth, Lime Hawk-moth, Argyrotaenia ljungiana, Emperor Moth, Great Prominent, Narrow-winged Pug, Early Tooth-striped, Broom-tip, Ochreous Pug, Caloptilia stigmatella, Pseudoswammerdamia combinella, Knot Grass, Agonopterix ocellana, Metendothenia atropunctana and Pseudococcyx turionella,

West Stow Country Park - SMG Moth Night - 9th May 2003

A rather cool night, as nights in the Brecks often seem to be.  Lights were operated in the heathy area on the far side of the vistor centre near to the river. 52 species recorded with some expected species including; Pine Hawk-moth, Narrow-winged Pug, Fox Moth and Teleiopsis diffinis. Searching and beating nearby trees produced some further records including Copper Underwing larva and an adult Adela croesella. Other species recorded were; Chocolate-tip, Scalloped Hook-tip and Streamer but the moths of the night were a male and female Poplar Kitten found in the same trap as we were clearing up.

Wolves Wood - Moth Night - 10th May 2003

It proved to be slightly warmer in this ancient wood than the previous night with 30 species recorded on the night. Seraphum, Scorched Carpet, Cream Wave, Poplar Lutestring, Scalloped Hazel, Chocolate-tip,

Lower Hollesley Common - Moth Night - 16th May 2003

This is a regularly visited heathland site in the Sandlings that provided some interesting results amongst the 36 species, despite the intermittent rain; Orange Footman, Maiden's Blush, Chinese Character, Purple Bar, Oak Hook-tip, Barred Hook-tip and Neofaculta ericetella.

Tunstall Common - SMG Moth Night - 23rd May 2003

A few visits have been made to this heathland site in the past for moth trapping and although the moths were rather slow to come to light 56 species were recorded. Pick of the bunch were Tinea trinotella, Common Heath, Pseudococcyx turionella, Pine Hawk-moth, Scalloped Hook-tip, Spruce Carpet, Neofaculta ericetella, Monopis weaverella while sitting around the light we noticed some Incurvaria pectinea mines on birch. Moth of the night was a singleton Pinion-spotted Pug - currently I've only one other record for this species in the database. The moth feeds on hawthorn so it may be surprising that we don't see it more often unless it's shy of the lights.

Maidscross Hill, Lakenheath - Moth Night - 24th May 2003

This will probably be remembered as the night of the Cinnabars, with hundreds of the moth flying around the light and in the traps. Initially intended as a public meeting due to problems in making this area a reserve meant that there were just a few moth group members and members from the Forest Heath District Council. In all 50 species were recorded including; Buff-tip, Large Nutmeg, Pale-shouldered Brocade, Aethes cnicana, Campion, Broom-tip, Thisanotia chrysonuchella. Also noticed on the Mullein were not surprisingly some Mullein Moth larvae.
 
Cinnabar moths in Skinner trap

Lineage Wood - SMG Day meeting - 25th May 2003

A rather successful daytime meeting at this wood that benefits from being on a chalky soil. Beating of trees and generally poking about for moths and other things was the order of the day. 34 species were recorded in all. Of prime interest was the search for Plumed Prominent larvae - a singleton larva had been recorded here in 9th June 2001 and this year we managed to beat several individuals from the field maple. Other larvae of note that were beaten included a few Lackey on oak, a Sprawler on hazel, a Feathered Thorn on buckthorn, an Ypsolopha parenthesella on hazel. Adult moths noted included Adela rufimitrella, Ancylis upupana and Marbled White Spot. Cases of Coleophora laricella were noted on larch and Coleophora paripennella cases on knapweed and thistle.

Darren Underwood clocked up a few non-lepidopterous records that may be of interest - nymphs of the following Bush-crickets; Dark (many), Oak (a few - 6+), Speckled (one), plus Common Groundhopper, Orange Ladybird, three Short-winged Earwings, Common Earwigs and the hoverfly Leucozona lucorum (an attractive spring species whose ideal habitat is lush vegetation in damp woodland - quite common and widespread, but very nice). I'll skip Darren's bird records as they probably won't be of interest!

Carlton Marshes - SMG Moth Night - 30th May 2003

For once we did better with the weather at this fenland site - previous visits have been dogged by rain before or during meetings. Of the 65 species nothing was a particular surprise based on results of previous visits but the following were of reasonable  note;. Reed Dagger, Nascia cilialis, Flame Wainscot, Gold Spot, Cream-bordered Green Pea, Schoenobius gigantella, Water Ermine, Small Seraphim, Large Nutmeg, Broom Moth, Campion, Alder, Small Clouded Brindle, Flame Carpet, Orange Footman, Cream-spot Tiger and Phlyctaenia perlucidalis.

Great Martins Wood - SMG Moth Night - 30th May 2003

This is a privately owned piece of woodland south-west of Ipswich. It is on quite light soil and has large stands of sweet chestnut, however the owner is quite interested in conservation and within the wood is a small area of heathland that he is trying to encourage. It was this area of heathland that was of interest for this meeting as I think it must be the most southerly piece of heath in the county. A list of 147 species was rather a respectable figure for this time of year and species that I'd normally associate with heathland included; Neofaculta ericetella, Teleiopsis diffinis, Cream-spot Tiger, True Lover's Knot, Narrow-winged Pug and White Colon. A few individuals of a rather interesting micro, Pseudotelphusa scalella, also made an appearance. This was recorded in Ipswich in 2002 and was a first for the county, as far as I am aware. This turned out to be a new site for the local BAP species Shaded Fan-foot. Other species of note included; Perinephela lancealis, Brindled White-spot, Scorched Wing, Grey Birch, Lobesia reliquana (an infrequently recorded species), Broken-barred Carpet, May Highflyer, Treble-bar, Eulia ministrana, Dingy Shell, Prays fraxinella, Pretty Chalk Carpet, Clouded-bordered Brindle, Beautiful Golden Y, Miller, Poplar Lutestring, Eana incanana, Spruce Carpet, Oak-tree Pug, Ochreous Pug, White-point, Alder Moth, Orange Moth, Hypatima rhomboidella, Argyresthia cupressella, Lobster Moth, Pale-shouldered Brocade and Ancylis mitterbacheriana

Barnhamcross Common - Moth Night - 7th June 2003

A meeting intended to look for the False Mocha, following concerns expressed about its apparent decline across the country. False Mocha has previously been recorded at this site (14th May 2001) but this time we were unsuccessful despite operating phosphorescent traps (low powered lights) near scrub oaks. In all 132 species were recorded and the highlights were; Cream-spot Tiger, Fox Moth, Tinea semifulvella, Small Elephant Hawk-moth, Marbled White Spot, Clouded Buff, Spruce Carpet, Scorched Wing, Cream Wave, Pempelia formosa (plent of elm nearby), Clouded-bordered Brindle, Four-dotted Footman, Shaded Pug, Phtheochroa sodaliana (quite restricted in its distribution), Piniphila bifasciana, Sitochroa verticalis, Lobster Moth, Broom-tip, Orange Footman, Satin Wave, Bird's Wing, Large Nutmeg, Campion, Wood Carpet, Alder moth and Broom Moth

Aldeburgh/Thorpeness - SMG Moth Night - 13th June 2003

One of the species that I had asked recorders to look out for in 2003 was the Marbled Clover and this meeting was intended to search for the moth at this known location. A slight breeze at this exposed sight meant that activity around the sheet was rather low but some well positioned traps in more sheltered areas produced a list of 106 species on the night. While setting up some nearby blackthorn bushes were noticed to hold large numbers Yponomeuta padella larval webs. Other species of note included; Fox Moth, Cream-spot Tiger, Shaded Pug, Water Ermine, Bordered Sallow, Cream-bordered Green Pea, Flame Wainscot, Southern Wainscot, Campion, Silky Wainscot, Eudonia pallida, Dog's Tooth, Small Clouded Brindle, Tawny Shears, White Colon, Dotted Fan-foot, Schoenobius gigantella, Dusky Brocade, Paraswammerdamia albicapitella, Coleophora mayrella and Aethes beatricella.

Kings Forest, Chalk Lane - SMG Moth Night - 20th June 2003

This night followed a now familiar pattern in the Brecks of a sunny day with clear skies followed by cold night and not much in the way of moth activity. This was rather unfortunate as we had been joined by some people from out of county who had come especially to see some Breckland specialities. On the upside there was no lingering presence from a 'rave' held on the site the previous weekend. Of 24 species recorded the ones of most interest were Piniphila bifasciana, Fern, Four-dotted Footman and Pine Hawk-moth.

Newmarket, Animal Health Trust - SMG Moth Night - 27th June 2003 (Paul Bryant)

After what had been a promising day weather wise, our first foray proper into the Newmarket area turned out to be a rather wet affair. The original plan had been to run a small number of traps along a tree lined avenue on the western boundary of the estate (mostly Beech) and in two isolated patches of Hawthorn, Lime, Oak & Pine in the adjacent paddock area. However, the wet and windy conditions soon put paid to this and, after spending a good hour or so sheltering under the trees in the car park, we decided to run a very basic sheet where we were and an actinic trap not to far away. With the rain eventually clearing through by about 10.30pm we put two more MV traps out but by then the damage had already been done. A total of 51 species were recorded on the night although the general consensus of opinion was that given better conditions, the site would have been much more productive. On the plus side, all bar one or two species were new for the Newmarket 10km square. The highlights were confined to the micros with six species currently known to be of only local or unknown distribution throughout the county – Coleophora trifolii and Coleophora mayrella, Batia lunaris, Apotomis capreana, Eucosma obumbratana and Cydia fagiglandana.

Finally, and on behalf of the group, may I extend our sincere thanks to Keith Read at the Animal Health Trust for making the whole thing possible.

Aldeburgh/Thorpeness - Moth Night - 28th June 2003

As Marbled Clover records seemed to be low on the ground this year we decided to return to this coastal site with the hope of recording Marbled Clover. The species has been recorded at this site in the past including records at light. Unfortunately, we failed to record any of this species but as conditions were calmer moths were more numerous at the lights and we recorded a few more species (112) than the previous visit. In the past we have visited this site many times and thought that it would be a good site for migrants but up until this evening had been disappointed. A hawk-moth arrived at the sheet light in the middle of the session and raised some excitement as we tried to net it while it buzzed around. A potentially rash call of Striped Hawk-moth based on in-flight identification proved to be correct when it was finally netted. A notable migrant at last! We did rather well for hawk-moths on this night with 6 other species noted; Privet, Lime, Eyed, Eyed, Poplar, Elephant and Small Elephant. Other species of interest included; Dotted Fan-foot, Blackneck, Star-wort, Shore Wainscot, White-point, Kent Black Arches, Water Ermine, Grass Emerald, Phlyctaenia perlucidalis, Thiodia citrana and Platytes alpinella.
 
Striped Hawk-moth © Tony Prichard

Reports from Recorders around the county

Eye, January – June 2003 - Paul Kitchener

As it seems with most sites this year the first four months in Eye were very uneventful with low numbers of species and individual moths, but things abruptly picked up in May, and June continued that trend with some very big and varied catches. Several species were recorded for the first time and, encouragingly, quite a few others were seen for the first time in several years.

January (3 species)

Only moths of note were two Dark Chestnuts.

February (9 species)

The first Orthosias appeared on schedule with Hebrew Character on 23rd and Common Quaker on 25th. Only four Pale Brindled Beauty but Spring Usher was a long overdue first Eye record on 9th.

March (16 species)

The Orthosias were only in moderate numbers with single Satellite and three Red Chestnut being a very poor show. Double-striped Pug arrived on 23rd but, as last year, there have been very few of the first generation compared to the numbers prior to 2001. The first of seven Agonopterix alstromeriana turned up on the 4th, only a single of this species being seen last year.

April (48 species)

Best of the bunch in a very disappointing month were Streamer (two dates), Oak-tree Pug (single only), Lime Hawk-moth (first April records and the forerunners of an excellent year for this species, still being seen in the first half of July), Lunar Marbled Brown, the first of seven Chocolate-tip on 15th, Pine Beauty, Lead-coloured Drab (first site record, 14th), Powdered Quaker (the only one of the year, 19th), Knot Grass and Herald.

May (112 species)

Numbers and variety of moths increased sharply from the third week and several species were seen in the garden for the first time.

Monopis obviella (first of three, 4th), Phyllonorycter leucographella (26th), Pseudoswammerdamia combinella (1st), Plutella xylostella (first of five this month, 1st), Scrobipalpa acuminatella  (first of five, 4th), Aethes smeathmanniana (12th), Phycitodes maritima (genitalia kindly determined by Nigel Whinney, 11th), May Highflyer (the first of seven, 10th; and the first seen in Eye since 1999), Currant Pug (on two dates), White-spotted Pug, Yellow-barred Brindle, Pale Oak Beauty (the first, 30th and to become the best ever year for this species in Eye), White-pinion Spotted, Puss Moth (23rd, continuing the record of one per year!), Least Black Arches, Turnip ( this species seems now to be on the up again after several years of decline), Small Clouded Brindle (first, 28th), Vine’s Rustic, Cream-bordered Green Pea (first, 21st) and Buttoned Snout (third garden record, 30th, following two last year).

June (223 species)

The “micros” really took off this month and following a modification to the Robinson trap last winter the indications are that many more are now being retained until the morning. This has made for a lot more work but also some very interesting catches.

Nemophora degeerella (to light, 21st), Nemapogon cloacella (13th), Tinea semifulvella (on three dates), Lyonetia clerkella (15th), Phyllonorycter maestingella (22nd), Argyresthia cupresella (seven, between 3rd and 23rd), Yponomeuta evonymella (over twenty, first 22nd, and continuing into July), Prays fraxinella (1st, with two in July), Plutella xylostella (a total of 42, maximum of seven, 22nd), Eidophasia messingiella (12th), Teleiodes vulgella (on four dates), Scrobipalpa costella  (three, 7th), Brachmia blandella (two, 26th), Archips rosana (26th), Aphelia paleana (two, 23rd), Clepsis consimilana (over twenty, maximum five on two dates), Ptycholoma lecheana (on two dates), Lozotaeniodes formosanus (22nd), Lozotaenia forsterana (three on two dates), Pseudargyrotoza conwagana (on three dates), Aleimme loeflingiana (four on three dates), Celypha striana (on eight dates), Celypha lacunana (the most numerous tortix, with 120 in June), Bactra lancealana (9th), Ancylis achatana (four on two dates), Epinotia bilunana (on three dates), Epiblema foenella (22nd), Pammene aurantiana (29th), Pammene regiana (nine on six dates), Cydia nigricana (9th), Platytes cerussella (18th), Ostrinia nubilalis (26th), Phlyctaenia perlucidalis (six on four dates), Pyralis farinalis (on two dates), Pempelia formosa (on two dates), Nephopterix angustella (3rd), Ephestia parasitella (genitalia kindly determined by Nigel Whinney; thirteen individuals between 12th and 26th), Phycitodes binaevella (on two dates), Drinker (29th), Maiden’s Blush (only the fourth Eye record, 15th), Barred Yellow (six on three dates), Blue-bordered Carpet (after only one in six years, three this year), Small Waved Umber (12th), Scallop Shell (first Eye record and well worth waiting for, 7th), Freyer’s Pug (on three dates), Sloe Pug (first Eye records, 5th and 7th), Small Yellow Wave (29th), Early (or not so early) Tooth-striped (a long overdue first Eye record, 3rd), Tawny-barred Angle (rarely recorded in Eye, 15th), Clouded Silver (record numbers, 105, maximum 15, 11th), Eyed Hawk-moth (on three dates), Elephant Hawk-moth (now the most frequently caught hawk-moth, 20 on 14 dates), Four-dotted Footman (third Eye record, 23rd), Dark Brocade (1st), Miller (first since 1998, 21st), Alder Moth (first Eye record, resembling form suffusa, 3rd), Dingy Shears (on two dates), Dusky Brocade (on two dates), Middle-barred Minor (record numbers, 23, maximum 5, 9th), Small Dotted Buff (26th), Vine’s Rustic (9th) and Cream-bordered Green Pea (nine on seven dates),

July

Moths of note, at time of writing, have included Common Lutestring (first Eye record, 3rd), Twin-spot Carpet (first Eye records, two, 4th), Nomophila noctuella (first of year), Sciota adelphella (two, 5th and 6th), Double Lobed, Marbled White Spot, Bordered Beauty, Garden Tiger and White Satin.
 

Ipswich Golf Course - Neil Sherman

March 2003

High pressure dominated the month, with sunny days, little rain and cold nights. The trend of poor moth numbers in the traps continued therefore on from last month. This has been the worst start to the moth season here for a number of years. Nevertheless, there were a few nights when conditions were better, and the traps were put out on 4 occasions, 2 at the start and 2 in the last week.

The Small Brindled Beauty was present in good numbers early on, with 13 on the 4th and 9 on the 10th. Also seen on the 4th were 2 Satellite along with the usual commoner species. Oak Beauty, Early Thorn, Engrailed and the first of the spring Orthosias appeared at the end of the month, but not in great numbers.

The warm sunny weather was good for diurnal species – the Orange Underwing was seen flying round birches on the 14th with another 2 on the 26th. A Fox Moth larva was found on the 19th – they reappear at this time to sun themselves before pupating.

The most interesting species seen this month also turned up in an unusual way – an Agonopterix scopariella (a new site record) was found floating (still alive) in the water butt at the worksheds! This shows that it pays to keep your eyes open all the times for moths, no matter where you are and what you are doing!

April and May 2003

Conditions for mothing in April were much better than in March. After a slow start, moth numbers picked up in the latter half of the month, coinciding with the warm unseasonable weather. The best night for species was during this time – the 14th when 28 species were trapped (macros and micros).

National moth night was also during April this year, on the 12th, and as always I run a trap to support the event. 9 species were recorded, with the first records for the year of both Pine Beauty and Frosted Green amongst the usual commoner spring species.

Moths of possible interest here during the month were Lunar Marbled Brown – after high numbers last year there have been very few records so far. The Frosted Green however has been more evident with the highest count of 27 on the 22nd. Purple Thorn and Brindled Beauty have appeared in low numbers, in contrast to Eriocrania subpurpurella that peaked at 100 individuals on the 16th (yes I did count every one!). Singletons of Grey Shoulder-knot (16th), Knot Grass (21st), Water Carpet (24th) and Shoulder Stripe (also on the 24th) have also been trapped. A Maiden’s Blush was caught on the 14th, this being the earliest record for the site. Another (or the same one) was seen on the 24th. The prominents also have begun to appear in the trap, with records of Great, Pale, Lesser Swallow, Swallow and Iron, along with a Chocolate-tip.

The first migrants of the year also arrived, with single records of Plutella xylostella (14th) and Silver Y (daytime sighting on the 28th). Hopefully this warm April is going to herald a better moth season than the last few years!

Mothing in May continued on the same vein as in April, with some decent nights, with a gap mid month when the weather was poor, unfortunately coinciding with my holiday! Lights were run on 6 occasions, with the night of the 26th being the best with 49 species, with some records of note (more later).

Macros of possible interest included Seraphim (2 on the 5th), Great Prominent (regular throughout the month), Chocolate-tip (also regular as singletons), Oak-tree Pug (5 on the 5th was exceptional for the site – it normally occurs as single records a year). The Yellow Belle appeared 3 times, the Miller once (on the 7th) with a Broom tip on the same night. The pretty Small Elephant Hawk-moth appeared on the 26th, in mint condition. Also on that night was a late record of Pine Beauty, although I have one record for the site in June. Both Lime Hawk-moth and Pine Hawk-moth put in their first appearances on the 29th, along with the smart Alder Moth and an Oak Nyectoline.
 

Small Elephant Hawk-moth © Neil Sherman

Three species have been notable by their numbers in the trap. The Cinnabar has been abundant by day and night. 29 were in the trap on the 7th, but this total was beaten and then some on the 26th when there were 120! This coincided with a moth event at Maidscross Hill, Lakenheath where at least 700 were seen! Must have been lots of Ragwort around last year! Also in large numbers that same night was the Orange Footman, with 29 trapped. This species has been common all month with another good total of 19 appearing on the 29th – it is still being recorded at the time of writing in early June. The last species, the Brindled White Spot, has not been as abundant but has still been in better than normal numbers with 5 or more being trapped most times.

Micros have begun to increase in the trap, with the following of possible note here. Cryptoblabes bistriga was trapped on the 26th, the first for the year. Eulia ministrana, one of my favourite tortrix moths, has also been noted. The migrant Plutella xylostella was seen on the 5th.

Notable daytime observations included a female Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth, seen on the 29th egg laying on Honeysuckle. Also seen abundantly was Micropterix calthella on Buttercup flowers, and, on Cuckoo-flower, Adela rufimitrella (but not in such large numbers). Beating for larvae on the 10th produced a few nice caterpillars, with singles of December Moth (found on Hazel), Northern Winter Moth (from Birch) and Satellite (from Oak). Also beaten was an adult Caloptilia syringella.

For the third year running, Emperor Moth larvae have been found feeding on the Clubhouse roses – this seems to be an easier place to see them than when they are on heather and well camouflaged!
 
 

Eulia ministrana  © Neil Sherman
December Moth larva © Neil Sherman

June 2003

Warm weather dominated the month, with some more excellent nights trapping. After a slow start, this year seems to be getting better as the season progresses! The only gap in moth recording at the golf course was in the third week, when I was away on holiday mothing in France (more on this in a later article!).

Two MV lights were run on 9 nights, with an 11w Actinic trap put out as well on a few occasions, this producing a total list of 246 species. Best nights were the 18th with 102 species and the 29th with 99 species.

Macros of possible interest included: Grass Emerald (the first of the year appeared on the 29th), Satin Wave (on 2 dates), Spinach (on the 11th a nice fresh example – not seen that regularly at this site), Shaded Pug (2 records with the first one coming to the 11w actinic trap), Broom-tip (on the 5th), Lilac Beauty (on the 19th trapping near its foodplant, honeysuckle – this species is now recorded annually whereas in the past it was rarely seen), Brindled White-spot (in good numbers), Lobster (the third site record on the 18th), Orange Footman (still appearing in good numbers with a maximum of 15 mid month), Gold Swift (one on the 5th), Lunar Yellow Underwing (3 singletons during the month), Purple Clay (on 2 dates – another species now seen annually here but not very often a few years ago), Grey Arches (18th), Cream-bordered Green Pea (on the 1st) and the first Shaded Fan-foots (or should that be feet?) of the year (4 on the 18th).

Micros of possible note here were: Nemapogon cloacella (on 3 dates with most appearing inside my polytunnel for growing Heather!), Tinea trinotella (3rd), Argyresthia cupressella (on the 18th a long way from any foodplant!), Cochylis nana (a new site record – recorded 5 times during the month), Tortrix viridana (reaching a peak this year on the 15th when 250 were trapped!), Sitochroa verticalis (one on the 29th – now recorded annually here) and Nascia cilialis (on the 11th  - a new site record of this increasing moth).
 

Nascia cilialis © Neil Sherman

Day sightings included Mother shiptons, seen flying over heather areas when it was sunny, with a peak of 5 on the 4th. Also seen throughout the month were plenty of Silver Y, but, as usual it seems with this species, not many appeared at light. Emperor Moth larvae (on Heather) and Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth larvae (on honeysuckle) were also found.

The moth that caused the most controversy this month was a wainscot that appeared on the 9th. On appearance my suspicion was that it was a Mathew’s, as it didn’t seem to have the really pronounced veins of the Common wainscot, and was an orange colour. Upon showing it to members of the group, initial verdicts of ‘Common’ were received but subsequent comparison with reference specimens showed similarities. I was (and still am) convinced it was Mathew’s, and, after seeing that the hindwings were dark rather than white this added to my claim.
 
 

Cream-bordered Green Pea © Neil Sherman
Mathew's Wainscot?  © Neil Sherman

News from the Thurston recorder – a postscript - Paul Bryant

I was slightly ashamed to discover that it has been almost exactly a year since I last put finger to keyboard as the Thurston recorder. A lot has happened since then and as most of you will know Ann and I decided to sell or house in the hope of finding something bigger and better. Finding a buyer was no problem and we duly moved out of Howes Avenue at the end of March this year. However, finding the something bigger and better has proved more of a challenge so we are currently residing, courtesy of Ann’s parents, in Hopton. That hasn’t stopped me trapping of course but more of that hopefully in the next newsletter.

So, did I reach the 300 barrier you ask? Well, despite the somewhat indifferent weather at the start of the month there were plenty of opportunities to trap and July was a very productive month with several nights reaching the 50+ species barrier. Thirteen new species were picked out amongst the, now, more regular garden visitors – Coleophora palliatella, Blastodacna hellerella, Lozotaeniodes formosanus, The Phoenix and Short-cloaked Moth all on the 6th, Pempelia formosa on the 11th, Eucosma hohenwartiana on the 13th, Epermenia chaerophyllella on the 16th, Small Rivulet & Lesser Common Rustic on the 18th, Phyllonorycter trifasciella and Batia lunaris on the 25th and finally, a Rosy Rustic on the 29th. I also trapped what I provisionally identified as a Marbled Green on latter date but this is still subject to discussion and now awaits anatomical study to confirm its true identity!
 

Paul's Thurston garden trap © Paul Bryant
Phoenix © Paul Bryant

August was a quiet by comparison with the actual number of species down on July and with no new additions. I did record (or is it suffered) 60+ Large Yellow Underwings’ to actinic on the 27th but, by way of compensation, also recorded a single Vapourer on the same night.

Things picked up again in September with Eudonia angustea, Large Thorn and Brindled Green on the 12th getting the month of to a god start as they were all new. Subject to a final count back it looks like Large Thorn may win the prize as species number 300! The following day I recorded the first of what turned out to be a small trickle of Lunar Underwing’s, as by the end of October I had notched up fifteen in total. Other new arrivals were Orange Sallow on the 15th, Oak Nycteoline on the 19th and Sallow on the 20th.
 

Large Thorn © Paul Bryant

October and November were quite again, for a number of reasons, but Udea ferrugalis and Brick were added to the list and single Merveille du Jour and Feathered Thorn were a nice way to round of the season. A single Winter Moth attracted to our porch light gets the prize for being the last moth of the year (on the 22nd December).

With the house going on the market at the start of 2003 and trying to fid a suitable weather window to make the effort worthwhile, very little trap only went out on three nights with the expected Small & Common Quaker, Hebrew Character and Early Grey being recorded in small numbers. Not to be outdone, 2003 did turn up the first Twin-spot Quaker for the garden taking the garden list to approx. 306 species. The highlight however was an e-mail from Jon Clifton to confirm that one of many species he kindly helped identify from last year was Phyllonorycter kuhlweiniella (= saportella), an oak species previously reported from the Brandon and Thetford area according to Tony and from the South Lopham area according to Vol. 2 of MGBGI.

Finally, may I say a big thank you to everyone who helped get the list up to the stage it was by helping me identify all those many and varied species that I struggled with due to a lack of knowledge or literature.
 

Dunwich Heath NT, April to June 2003 - Mark Cornish

In April the most numerous species were typically: Clouded Drab, Hebrew Character, Brindled Beauty, Yellow-horned, Red Chestnut, Common and Small Quaker. Northern Drab was also recorded for the first time along with a few Lead-coloured Drab and Oak Beauty.

May saw the Narrow-winged Pug (Peak of 91 trapped, 31/05), Shuttle-shaped Dart, Heart & Dart, True-lovers Knot and Treble Lines form the bulk of the numbers. Emperor Moth had a poor year with only two trapped. Powdered Quaker was frequent (unlike 2002 when it was very scarce) along with Early Grey and Light Brocade. A very fresh Oblique Carpet was probably the most notable (with two also caught in 2002) along with several White Colon and Yellow Belle. Pempelia palumbella was daily and several Grey Birch were trapped after none in 2002. Otherwise there was the typical mix of the usual suspects.

June was more productive. Notable pyralids were Nascia cilialis, Synaphe punctalis (with 27 trapped 30th), Schoenobius gigantella, Phycitodes binaevella and Pempelia formosa (trapped along elm hedgerow). Freyer’s (1), Maple (2) & Triple-spotted Pug (1), Tawny-barred Angle (3), Treble Brown Spot (5) and Grey Arches (7) were new from 2002. The typical red form of Barred Red was seen for the first time after two of the green form in 2002, whilst Heart & Club was recorded for only the 2nd & 3rd time in two years. Shore Wainscot (1), Star-wort (1), Kent Black Arches (5), Grass Emerald (3), Silky Wainscot (6), Water Ermine (2), Maple Prominent (1) and Flame Wainscot (3)  were notable and caught for the second year running. Though Rosy Wave was an exceptionally good record on 22nd and 5 Shaded Fan-foots were trapped along with a Royal Mantle at Mount Pleasant on 28th.  Most numerous were: Large Yellow Underwing (peak 82 trapped, 22/06), Dark Arches (peak of 78 trapped, 22/06), True Lover’s Knot (peak 70 trapped, 29/06), Flame (peak of 31 trapped, 22/06), Heart & Dart (peak of 32 trapped, 01/06), Buff Ermine (peak of 12 trapped, 17/06), Brown Rustic, Narrow-winged Pug and Brown-silver line (Peak of 40+ trapped, 15/06). Whilst trapping at the northern end produced 30+ Mottled Beauty (20/06). Pebble Hook-tip (only 4 trapped in May and 5 in June) and Lesser Swallow Prominent (only 3 trapped in may & June) are having a poor year compared to 2002, although Clouded Silver and Cream-spot Tiger (with 34 trapped in June, peak of 8, 10/06) very good. Mullein Wave, Light Brocade, Rustic Shoulder-knot, and Vine’s Rustic seem to be more numerous than 2002. Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth was seen late in the month and migrants were represented by Rush Veneer (Nomophila noctuella), Diamond-backed Moth (Plutella xylostella), Hummingbird Hawk-moth, several dark Sword-grass and good numbers of Silver Y.
 

Contact details

Please send any Suffolk moth records, moth articles or other queries to myself (preferably via email) at :

3 Powling Road, Ipswich, Suffolk IP3 9JR
Email : tony.prichard@btinternet.com (also tony.aw.prichard@bt.com )

Suffolk Moths web site (home of the SMG): http://www.btinternet.com/~tony.prichard

SMG Email Discussion Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/suffolkmothgroup

Essex County Moth Recorder : Brian Goodey, 298 Ipswich Road, Colchester, Essex. CO4 0ET. E-mail: essexmoths@dial.pipex.com
 

The Newsletter

This is the newsletter for the Suffolk Moth Group. It is distributed free to those with email and at a £2 per annum subscription for paper copies. Four issues are produced per year, usually in March, June, August and November. I am always on the look out for articles that will be of interest to moth recorders in Suffolk, although field and site reports should be topical. Articles should arrive by the end of the month preceding the month in which a newsletter is produced, eg. the deadline for articles for the March newsletter is the end of February.
 

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