James William Tutt.

The British noctuæ and their varieties (Volume 3) online

. (page 13 of 23)
Online LibraryJames William TuttThe British noctuæ and their varieties (Volume 3) → online text (page 13 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


this character, generally a very good generic one, is useless in this
genus, for the most closely allied species are alternately with or with-
out. They have the ordinary manners of the Hadenidce and present
few varieties " (' Noctuelles,' vol. vi., p. 74). The genus would not have
presented many varieties to us a few years ago, but we now know its
species to be fairly variable. One of the most interesting particulars
is, that purely melanic specimens occur in two species, nebulosa and
occultdy out of our five British ones in the genus, whilst prasina cer-
tainly attempts to follow in a similar direction. The development of
a glaucous coloration in advena and tincta is very remarkable, and in






IN THE BRITISH ISLANDS. 65

certain specimens of these species, there is frequently a tendency for
the darker red colour of the wing to increase at the expense of the
normally paler parts.

Aplecta, Gn., prasina, Fab.

There is a considerable difference in the green tint even of freshly
emerged examples. Some have the green almost white, whilst others
have it of a very deep shade. In some cases, too, the whole wing, ex-
cept the costal commencements of the transverse lines, is entirely
green, whilst in others the basal lines, central shade, stigmata and other
markings are dark, restricting the green area very much. I have one
dark reddish-brown specimen without any green coloration. Sub-
jected to ammonia or cyanide of potassium, the green becomes yellow,
and Guenee states that " mixta, Haworth, is only an old example in
which the green has faded to yellow " (' Noctuelles,' vi., p. 75). The
pale spot outside the reniform at the top of the angulated line is very
characteristic, but in those specimens in which the ground colour tends
to whitish-green, it becomes much less conspicuous. The type is thus
described by Fabricius : " Noctua cristata alis do ..lexis fusco viridique
variis : litnris duabus albis, thoracis crista diij lici." " Alse fuscse
nigro parum undatee viridique variae. Liturze dute magnae, altera ad
basin, altera pone medium. Posticse fuscas ciliis albis, subtus puncto
strigaque undata nigris " (' Mantissa,' p. 169).

a. var. pallida, mihi. The anterior wings of a pale whitish-green
with only the upper parts of the basal and subterminal lines developed
as costal streaks, and with the costal end of the central shade developed
between the stigmata. The characteristic pale patch outside the
reniform is absorbed in the paler ground colour. This is the extreme
pale form. Pale coloured specimens also occur in which the transverse
lines and central shade are fairly complete.

/?. var. suffusa, mihi. Anterior wings reddish-brown, with a black
area around and including the stigmata; a pale patch outside the
reniform as in the type, the transverse lines complete and black, out-
lined with pale greyish. I have only one specimen, and never saw
another of this dark form.

y. var. jaspidea, Bork. Borkhausen writes of this: "Noctua.
Green mixed with dark grey, with whitish lines " (' Naturgeschichte '
<fcc., p. 440). Guenee says: "It differs from the type only by the
absence of the white blotch outside the elbowed line, and by its darker
stigmata. The black streaks on the stigmata are also more
marked. It is bred from the same Iarva3 and does not appear to merit
being specially named any more than egregia y Esp." (' Noctuelles,' vi.,
p. 75).

8. Guenee also describes another variety which he calls var. A.
Of this he writes : " The orbicular round and not obliquely oval ;
the claviform very distinct ; the inner border broadly white, above all,
in the median spa*ce ; the pale spot which follows the reniform very
white, the subterminal line very deeply indented. North America."
Guenee then adds : " These characters appear insufficient to me to
form a species, and besides, I do not know that they are constant.
However, it is possible that it has a different larva " (' Noctuelles,' vi.,
p. 76).



66 VARIETIES OF NOCTTLS

Aplecta, Gn., occulta, Linn.

There are two very distinct forms of this species, one much
mottled with grey, the type ; the other, more or less melanic, with
the ground colour black. This latter is the implicata of Lefebvre, and
perhaps no more striking error occurs in Staudinger's ' Catalog,' than
when he writes of this : " Minor, dilutior " (p. 89). Certainly
Lefebvre's figure is small but it is dark enough in colour. The type
is described by Linnaeus as : " Noctua spirilinguis cristata, alis
deflexis fusco nebulosis, striga inferioribusque brevioribus margine
albis." " Fascia linearis repanda alba, supra superiores ubi inferiores
terminantur margine postico utrinque albo : alas inferiores multo
breviores sunt " (' Systema Naturae,' xth., 514). Of Aplecta occulta at
Kannoch, Mr. Wheeler writes : " One specimen was captured almost as
light as two southern types in my cabinet, taken near Ipswich " (' Ent.
Mo. Mag.,' vol. xiii., p. 141) ; whilst of the same species from Unst, Mr.
Weir writes : " These are somewhat intermediate in colour between
northern and southern specimens " (' Entom.', vol. xvii., p. 3). Of
those obtained in the Shetland Isles, the same gentleman writes : " It
is singular that the specimens of this insect are quite as light in
colour as the usual southern type, none being dark like those taken in
Scotland " (' Entomologist,' vol. xiii., p. 290), whilst of this species
near Heading Mr. Holland writes : " A single specimen of a beautiful
dark grey colour, was taken at sugar, a few miles away, seven or
eight years ago " (' Ent. Mo. Mag.,' xxi., p. 158).

a. var. implicata, Lef. Under this name two different varieties
seem to have been described ; the first is the black northern form
described and figured by Lefebvre in the ' Ann. Soc. France,' 1836,
fig. 4 and p. 394, and also described by Duponchel and Zetterstedt ;
the second is a paler form, referred erroneously to implicata, Lef. by
Guenee, and apparently copied from Guende by Staudinger, who
perpetuates the error. Zetterstedt's description is a quotation of
Lefebvre's, and admirably describes our black form. He writes :
" Hadena implicata. l Alis anticis nigricantibus, strigis duabus albidis
dentatis, maculis ordinariis nigro circumcinctis, orbiculari albida,
reniformi cinerea ; posticis fuliginosis, fimbria, alba.' Lefebvre, $ .
(Long. If poll.) Lefeb. in ' Ann. de la Soc. Ent. de Fr.' 1836, 3,
p. 394 ; PI. 10, fig. 4, 2 Hab. in Grocnlandia ; D. Lefebvre I.e. ; in
terris arcticis a me frustra quassita. Affinis videtur sequenti (ex-
tricata)" (' Insecta Lapponica,' p. 940). Staudinger does not appear to
have known the black form of this species, neither does Guenee, for
the latter gives quite a new description to which he applies Lefebvre's
name, whilst the former quotes Zetterstedt's extricata as synonymous
with Lefebvre's implicata. which represents, as I have stated, the
black form. It is strange that Guende and Staudinger should both
describe as implicata a form paler than the type. It is, indeed, difficult
to find out in what respect Guenee considers his implicata differs from
the type. This is the var. cethiops of Eobson, who describes it as :
" Black, lines and margins of stigmata greyer." The original type
figure of this dark variety is black with a greenish hue, with black
transverse lines and outlines to stigmata. Duponchel describes
implicata at length. He writes : " The fore wings are black and
traversed by the ordinary basal and angulated lines in the centre. -These



IN THE BRITISH ISLANDS. 67

are pale and nearer together at the inner margin than on the costa.
Between these are the two ordinary stigmata surrounded with black,
the orbicular whitish, the reniform obscure grey and scarcely notice-
able. The claviform is grey bordered with black, whilst at the base
of the wing and touching the costa is another grey patch. There are
some black cuneiform spots near the hind margin" ('Histoire
Naturelle ' &c., xiii., p. 592). Guene'e treats this as a distinct species
and writes : " It is distinguished from occulta by its size, its more
unicolorous appearance, being paler, more purplish, less clouded " &c.
In fact, Guenee gives in some particulars, an exactly opposite
description to Lefebvre's typical figure. Newman says of this variety :
" The northern specimens are remarkable for their dark colour, some
of them being almost black " (< British Moths,' p. 407). Newman also
figures this variety on p. 406, fig. 2. Mr. Kobson writes of a specimen
in Mr. Gregson's collection : " One dark specimen taken by Mr.
Carrington in Perthshire, is without the white lines on the wing
on the right side. NocTiLas with odd wings must be very rare, this is
the only instance I remember " (< Young Naturalist,' vol. viii., pp. 122-
123). Of a specimen in his collection, Mr. Sydney Webb writes: " One
of my Scotch specimens has odd wings, arising from a black cloud
slanting obliquely across the wing from the pale patch at the base to
the renal stigma ; from the farther end of this cloud, at the inner
margin, the dark subterminal proceeds as usual to near the apex, so
that the only pale portions visible on the wing, are the basal patch,
an obscure orbicular and ordinary reniform stigmata ; posterior to the
last of which are three pale dashes which fade away where the second
line should be ; hind margin, as usual, slightly paler " (in litt. 7.4/92).
I do not know whether the var. passeta, Mieg. <Le Nat.,' 1886,
which was named from a Scotch specimen, is this form, as I cannot
refer to the original description, but it is very probable. Herr A.
Hoffman, in writing of the Shetland examples says : " They resemble
the light southerly forms. The black form of the Scotch mountains,
which occurs also in our own mountains (Upper Hartz &c.), has not been
taken " ( Ent. Zeit. Stett.,' 1884, p. 363).

/3. var. extricata, Zett. This appears to be an intermediate form
between the paler mottled grey type and the black var. implicata. It
is only distinguished from the latter by certain minor characters by
Zetterstedt, such as " the transverse lines being whitish and double, the
costal markings white " &c. Zetterstedt writes : " H. extricata : alis
anticis nigricantibus cinereo fuscoque variis, strigis duabus geminis
dentatis, macula ordinaria interiori ovata, striolisque, basalibus ad
costam, albis ; posticis fuliginosis, fimbria alba. . (Long. al. exp.
2| poll.)." " Hab. in Lapponia. D. Schonherr, e cujus museo mecum
ad describendum communicata (Lappon. borealis ?) ". " Magna,
pulchra et distincta. Similis quodammodo et aifinis H. implicates,
Lefeb. $ , sed vix ejus mas. Differt ab ilia : alis anticis nonnihil
longioribus et angustioribus, strigis albis geminis, seu singula per
striolam mediam tenuissima longitudinaliter divisa (nee ut in
implicata simplici), exteriori angulato-dentata, nee siinpliciter arcuato-
dentata, ut et tandem strigulis costalibus ad basin albis. Maculae
ordinarise, exterior reniformis cinerea, interior vero obliqua ovata ad
costam adscendens. Ipsa costa punctis strigiformibus tribus albis

1-2



68 VARIETIES OP NOCTUJE

utrinque nigrocinctis, distantibus. Alas postica? obscure fusc,
omnino immaculatae, fimbria alba " (' Insecta Lapponica,' p. 940).

Aplecta, Gn., nebulosa, Hufn.

Without showing a very great amount of ordinary variation, this
species presents a range of colour development extending from pure
white to the most intense black. These melanic specimens, only five of
which are at present known, have been bred by Messrs. Collins and Acton
of Warrington, during the last two seasons, 1890-1891, and probably
these present at once, the most recent and most intense development
of the many melanic varieties for which the British Isles are remark-
able. The almost pure white form of this species is rare, and of the
ordinary mottled ones we have two distinct forms ; one, generally
found in Yorkshire and the Midland counties, is of a dark grey ground
colour ; the other, of a whitish-grey mottled slightly with ochreous.
Hufnagel's wretched description of the type is : " Fore wings whitish-
grey with spots and stigmata edged with brown or brownish-grey with
whitish-grey spots " (' Berlinisches Magazin,' iii., 418). This description
in a general way, applies perhaps to our typical form but such descrip-
tions as these are most unsatisfactory. The type is certainly the plebeia
of Hiibner (fig. 78), whilst bimaculosa, Esp. (p. 403) appears to be the
darker Yorkshire form. Grandis, Haw. (p. 185) is typical, but
trimaculosa, Esp. is not this species, as placed doubtfully by
Staudinger (' Catalog/ p. 89), but advena (vide description Esp. p. 400).
In Newman's ' British Moths/ p. 407, fig. 3 represents a peculiar banded
form, the central shade being unusually well- developed and black, and
the orbicular particularly white, with white basal patches on the costa
and on the side of the thorax ; whilst fig. 4 presents a very strange
form, with a series of white lunular spots on the outer margin of the
anterior wings, outside the subterminal, which, as well as the angulated
line, is represented by a single black wavy line, as also are the basal
lines, whilst the stigmata are obsolete. These figures were made from
specimens in Mr. Bond's cabinet and are altogether abnormal.

The forms we get may be classified as follows :
1. White, with almost obsolete markings = var. pallida.
2. Pale grey, with darker grey and slightly ochreous markings =

nebulosa, Hufn.

3. Dark grey, with blackish markings = var. bimaculosd, Esp.
4. Black = var. robsoni, Collins.

a. var. pallida, mihi. This beautiful white form, the exact
opposite to var. robsoni, was first made known to me by the Glasgow
collectors. All the basal lines are obsolete except the costal dots, the
orbicular also obsolete except a central dot, the reniform except a
faint outline ; the angulated line is not traceable, but the subterminal
is characterised by a few black dots following the pale wavy line.
My specimens have come from Glasgow, Cork and Chattenden.

ft. var. bimaculosa, Esp. The anterior wings are grey much
mottled with dark scales, the transverse lines are distinct but generally
dusky, whilst the stigmata are slightly paler, the row of cuneiform
spots show every transition from a wavy line to almost complete
absence. The characteristic :>- like mark at the anal angle also varies
in intensity. Although generally known as the Yorkshire form, this



IN'. THE BRITISH ISLANDS. 6>9

var. is in no way restricted to that county in Britain. I have it from
Rotherhain, Warrington, Sheffield, Reading etc. Esper's diagnosis of
the variety is : " Alis deflexis cinereis, crenatis, superioribus, stigma-
tibus albis, striga marginali dentata fusca, maculis duabus nigris "
(' Die Schmet in Abbildungen ' &c., p. 403). Esper's figures, I.e.
pi. 132, figs. 1-2, are very bad indeed. Mr. Holland writes:
" Specimens of A. nebulosa taken here (Reading) differ in colour
remarkably from those from the New Forest. The latter are white
with distinct markings and very large, but ours are generally smaller
and always much suffused with grey, approaching, in this respect, to
Yorkshire specimens " (' Ent. Mo. Mag.,' vol. xxi., pp. 158-159).
Mr. Robson writes : " Mr. Gregson has some very dark examples of
this insect that he tells me were taken at Sheffield. I had not seen
the form before " (' Young Nat.,' vol. viii., p. 123).

y. var. robsoni, Collins. Probably this is one of the finest melanic
forms that Britain produces. The fore wings of this variety are of an
entirely glossy black, with only the slightest possible traces (produced
by a more glossy appearance) of the reniform stigma and subterminal
line. The only trace of the original colour is presented by three
minute whitish costal dots near the apex. I have seen the five speci-
mens which are all at present known. One of these is now in my
cabinet, thanks to the kindness of Mr. Acton of Warrington, who, with
Mr. Collins of the same town, has bred the specimens. This form
appears to have been developed through var. bimaculosa, Esp., for a
specimen sent to me by Mr. Acton, bred with var. robsoni, was a very
dark one of that form. The first notice of var. robsoni is from the
pen of Mr. Collins, and is as follows : " I bred a black variety of A.
nebulosa from a solitary larva, picked up in the Delamere district, in
the spring. Mr. C. G. Barrett says that this form is quite new to
him " (' Ent. Record ' &c., i., p. 241) ; whilst we further read : " At
the meeting of the Lane, and Cheshire Ent. Soc., Oct. 12th, 1891,
Mr. Collins read a paper entitled ' A few remarks on Aplecta nebu-
losa^ stating that five melanic specimens had been bred from larvae
taken at Delamere, for which he proposed the varietal name of robsoni,
in honour of the well-known entomologist Mr. J. E. Robson of Hartle-
pool. Mr. Collins exhibited the five specimens, with others bred at
the same time " (< Ent. Record ' &c., ii., p. 264).

Aplecta, Gn., tincta, Brahm.

This beautiful species presents some slight difference in the
brightness of the ground colour, and also in the tint and extent of the
red costal shade. Occasionally, too, there is a tendency to form a
central fascia, but this is not generally very noticeable. The W-like
mark in the subterminal is generally ill-developed, although occasion-
ally distinct. Brahm's description of the type is as follows : " The
fore wings are silvery-grey and shining with paler transverse lines,
and a zigzag line near the hind margin. The first line stands near
the base and consists actually, like the others, of two reddish-grey
lines, between which the ground colour appears somewhat lighter.
The second stands not far from the orbicular, and the third just be-
yond the reniform. On the second, rests the claviform stigma, which
is bordered with grey-black and tinged with purple. The discoidals



70 VARIETIES of

stand in a faintly mixed purple shade, which starts from the hind
margin. Their outlines, as well as the angulated line on its lower
border, have the same tint though somewhat deeper. The subtermi-
nal line has two scarcely perceptible teeth, and is accompanied towards
the inside at three places with brown spots. On the hind margin
stand three white dots, not far from the tip, and a row of brown, some-
what rounded off, triangles are close to the fringe. The hind wings
are bright ash-grey " (' Insekten Kal.' &c., ii., p. 394). This species is
the argentine, of Haworth (p. 186) ; whilst the hepatica of Hiibner (fig.
77) represents the bluest form of the species we get.

a. var. svffusa, mihi. The only variety I ever saw of this species
was sent for my inspection by Mr. Hope Alderson, who bred it from a
larva taken at Farnboro' (Kent). It has the whole area between the
basal and angulated lines deeply suffused with dark purplish, the suffusion
extending below the stigmata almost to the inner margin. The
description I made of this specimen was as follows : " Anterior wings
of the normal silvery bluish-grey ground colour, with a double ab-
breviated, followed by a complete double basal line. The orbicular
large and pale, and on its inner edge is a dark purplish-brown wedge-
shaped mark. The reniform and claviform normal, but a deep purple-
brown blotch fills in the space between the orbicular and reniform,
whilst another large purple-brown patch under the orbicular and reni-
form and in contact with them, reaches back to the claviform and fills
up the central area of the wing. The subterminal line forms an ex-
ceedingly dark lunule about half-way down its length, and another at
the anal angle in which is a purple-brown spot. The hind margin
has a series of dark triangular patches, the outer edge of the nervures
also dark. Hind wings normal."

Aplecta, Gn., advena, Fab.

This is another interesting species and very close allied to tincta.
It generally develops a glaucous tinge, without, however, the bright
bluish tint of the latter species. Sometimes this pale colour spreads
over almost the whole of the anterior wings, sometimes it is entirely
absent and the wing is uniformly dull reddish-grey. The lower part
of the outer edge of the reniform is occasionally white ; the orbicular
varies from entire absence, through a pale ring to a dark-centred
ocellated stigma ; the claviform is sometimes obsolete, sometimes clearly
outlined, whilst the subterminal varies from complete absence to a
well- developed row of dots. The Fabrician description of the type is
as follows : " Noctua cristata alis deflexis dentatis cinereo f uscoque
variis, thoracis crista bifida." " Magna cinereo fuscoque varia, postice
striga abbreviata nigra. In medio macula ordinarise. Posticro fusca3.
Thoracis crista elevata, bifida quasi caniculata " (' Mantissa,' p. 183).
We get three very distinct forms in Britain :
1. Pale reddish-grey, tinged with glaucous = var. nitens, Haw.
2. Dark reddish-grey along costa, pale between elbowed and sub-
terminal lines == advena, Fab.
3. Unicolorous dark reddish-grey = var. unicolor.

a. rar. nitens, Haw. Haworth gives an excellent description of
our palest form of this species. Strange to say, my best example of
this form is like Haworth's, much below the average size, but small size



ifc T&E BRTTISH ISLANDS. 71

does not by any means always accompany this form. The wing is
tinged all over with silvery glaucous, in a very small way copying its
ally, tincta. The pale reddish-grey is better developed around the
stigmata than elsewhere, and the subterminal is generally distinct.
Haworth's description is : " Noctua alis brunneo argenteoque variis,
striga postica ex punctis angulatis confluentibus, antennis setaceis
nudis." " Exemplarium unicum maris solum vidi. Prsecedenti
nimis affinis (advena, Haw.) at minor, antennis setaceis, nudis nee
hirto-pectinatis, stigmateque claviformi majore. Alas anticse magis
brunneas et postice magis argentese, stigmate reniformi inferne
semicincto margine albissimo. Caetera fere ut in priore (advena), at
striga postica extus magis alba" (Lepidoptera Britannica,' p. 188).
This is an excellent description of a variety in my cabinet and fits it
so exactly that it might have been the specimen described.
Humphrey and Westwood write : " Noctua nitens, Haworth, has
been regarded as a variety of the 5 ,,preceding species, than which,
however, it is smaller, measuring lg in the expanse of the fore wings,
which are of a redder-brown colour, with the extremity more silvery ;
the supplemental stigma larger, the apical striga more distinct, and
formed of angulated, confluent spots ; the antennae are setaceous and
naked and not furnished with bristly pectinations " (' British Moths,'
p. 189).

ft. var. unicolor, mihi. In this variety the pale glaucous colour
extremely developed in var. nitens, and fairly well-marked in the type,
is entirely absent. The anterior wings are unicolorous dark reddish,
slightly grey, with the stigmata and transverse lines almost obsolete,
and of the typical subterminal line, only the mark near the anal angle
is noticeable. Humphrey and Westwood write : " Occasionally, as
in our figure 1, the wings are almost entirely concolorous, with only
a slight white edging to the stigmata, and a reddish patch behind the
anterior, and another beyond the posterior stigma " (' British Moths,'
p. 189).

Hadena, Och.

This genus comprises a fairly well-defined group of insects, the
imagines of some of which appear to be very closely allied. One east
and central European species, porphyrea, is rare in Britain, and prob-
ably will always remain so, as we are on the borders of its most
westerly limit of geographical distribution ; whilst peregrina is still
rarer ; our south-coast being apparently the most northerly limit of
this species which is abundant on the Mediterranean littoral. Bather
dark or melanic forms of Hadena adusta and H. suasa occasionally
occur, but, generally speaking, this group is not given to melanic
tendencies. H. protea, H. pisi and H. dentina offer perhaps the great-
est amount of ordinary variation, but the genus does not exhibit any-
thing extreme in any of the species. The affinity and near relationship
of this genus to Maniestra is very evident, in fact, the whole of the
Hadenidce should follow the Apamidce. Most of the species in this
genus, contigua, thalassina, dissimilis, pisi, oleracea, glauca, dentina.
genistce, trifolii and peregrina are placed by Staudinger in the
genus Mamestra ; whilst only porphyrea and adusta are left with ab-
jecta and the modern genera Apamea and Xylophasia in Hadena.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryJames William TuttThe British noctuæ and their varieties (Volume 3) → online text (page 13 of 23)