This page provides an informal forum for terrestrial invertebrate watchers to post recent sightings of interesting observations in the southern Vancouver Island region.
Please send your sightings by email to Jeremy Tatum (invert firstname.lastname@example.org). Be sure to include your name, phone number, the species name (common or scientific) of the invertebrate you saw, location, date, and number of individuals. If you have a photograph you are willing to share, please send it along.
2013 November 30
Here is a female Winter Moth Operophtera brumata from Jeremy Tatum's Saanich apartment today.
2013 November 29
Here are some recent photos of Operophtera bruceata (from Goldstream Park), O. brumata (from UVic) and Erannis sp. (from Goldstream Park). Our Erannis is usually called E. vancouverensis, although to me it looks very like European E. defoliaria. I am now wondering if perhaps the species we see regularly in urban and suburban areas is E. defoliaria, while the one at Goldstream is native E. vancouverens, is a situation parallel to that of Operophtera?
2013 November 22
Bill Katz sends another photo of the micro moth Agonopterix nervosa, as well as a crane fly. Can someone identify the latter for us? He also sends a photo of two well-marked Winter Moths Operophtera brumata from Government House on November 13. There seems to be a lot of variation in O. brumata, with many specimens being almost unicolorous with very little discernible pattern, as well as some strongly-patterned individuals.
2013 November 18
Bill Katz writes: The wet weather has sent an abundance of moths scurrying for the warmth and shelter of our garage and outer doorways on Summit Hill. We have several O. brumata and Erannis vancouverensis plus two moths that I believe are Agonopterix nervosa (Gorse Tip Moth, photo attached). Jeremy Tatum responds: Yes, I think that's what they are. It is an introduced European species, and we could probably do with a few more of them here, because in Britain the caterpillars feed on Gorse and Broom. Formerly included in the family Oecophoridae, the genera Agonopterix, Depressaria and a few others have recently been grouped in a new family, Depressariidae.
Bill also writes: I took the second photo at a building at the riding ring at Beaver Lake.
Jeremy Tatum writes that he can’t find anything but Winter Moths to photograph at the moment. The one below, from his Saanich apartment on November 16, is certainly Operophtera brumata. We still haven’t found an unquestioned O. bruceata yet this fall. And we still need a male earwig.
2013 November 10
Bill Katz sends some photographs of several winter moths, showing the large variation within the species. The first two were photographed at Haro Road yesterday, and the remaining three at Goldstream Park the day before. Jeremy Tatum writes: I also managed to photograph one at Goldstream Park today. In spite of the great variation, and despite that last winter all the winter moths at Goldstream seemed to be the native Operophtera bruceata, I believe all of the winter moths shown today are the European Operophtera brumata, although I cannot say that I am completely certain of this. I note that last year's bruceata were photographed in December. I wonder if perhaps brumata comes out a few weeks before bruceata? Or is there another species involved? Or is there any hybridization? We shall have to keep an eye on these moths, but, for the time being, I am fairly sure (but not 100 percent) that all of today's winter moth photos are brumata.
Bill also photographed at Goldstream a Drepanulatrix secundaria, a species that seems to have been quite common this year. The caterpillar feeds on Ceanothus.
Operophtera sp.(Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz
2013 November 7, afternoon
2013 November 7
Jeff Gaskin writes: I've heard that Mike McGrenere saw a Cabbage White at Harling Point on October 29th and Daniel Donnecke found a Mourning Cloak on Oldfield Road on October 31st. Unfortunately, I know of no butterflies for the month of November.
Let's keep looking, all the same! Moths, too. And we still need that male earwig. Jeremy Tatum
2013 November 5
Jeremy Tatum sends photos of Erannis vancouverensis and the American Tissue Moth Triphosa haesitatafrom his Saanich apartment this morning.
The caterpillars of Erannis vancouverensis and the Winter Moth Operophtera brumata (both shown in yesterday's posting) are major defoliators of many broad-leaved trees and shrubs. The caterpillars of the Winter Moth are food for many birds and their young in the Spring. The caterpillars of E. vancouverensis are brightly coloured and conspicuous, and I am not sure whether birds eat them - the bright colours may be warning colours to indicate that they are not good to eat. The adult females of both species are wingless and they do not fly - all they do is lay eggs. The Winter Moth is a European invasive species. I suspect that "Erannis vancouverensis" may in fact be the European species E. defoliaria, known as the Mottled Umber.
Both sexes of the Tissue Moth are fully winged. The caterpillar is a specialist - as far as I know locally it feeds solely upon the leaves of Cascara Rhamnus purshiana.
2012 November 4
It is time for winter moths again! Bill Katz sends a photo of Erannis vancouverensis(which may actually be introduced European E. defoliaria) from Summit Hill yesterday, while Jeremy Tatum sends a photo of Operophtera brumata (his first for the season) from his Saanich apartment this morning.
2013 November 1
Jeremy Tatum writes: We probably shan't see many more butterflies this year (though who knows?), so this will be an opportunity for me to thank all of you who have contributed sightings and photographs to this site during the year. Your contributions and support are enormously appreciated. I'll keep the site open during the winter, all eager and ready to report your sightings. I post below a photograph of an insect Order (Dermaptera) so far not represented by a photograph on this site - a European Common Earwig from my Saanich apartment today. (We reported a sighting, but not a photograph, of the native Seaside Earwig on July 21.) The earwig shown below is a female. The cerci of the male are strongly curved. Perhaps we can get a photo of a male sometime?
2013 October 30
Jeff Gaskin writes: Yesterday (October 29) I found four Cabbage Whites. Three of them were around the McIntyre Road reservoir in the Martindale valley, and the other one was at Island View Beach in a sunny spot.
2013 October 29
Jeremy Tatum reports a Red Admiral nectaring on the mass of ivy blossom on the east slope of Mount Tolmie today.
2013 October 28
Jeremy Tatum reports a Cabbage White from McMicking Point yesterday (October 27).
Bill Katz sends a photo of Autographa californica(a day-flying migratory moth) from Tofino.
2013 October 25
Bill Katz sends photos (obtained on October 15) of a Girdler Moth Dargida procinctus (from Esquimalt Lagoon) and one of the marbled carpet moths Dysstroma sp. (from Haro Road). There are several species of Dysstroma; they are quite variable species, and sometimes the variation within a species is as great as the variation between species. Bill's could be D. brunneata, though I think it is more likely D. citrata. (Jeremy Tatum)
Gerry Ansell reports a Cabbage White flying over the cabbage field at McHugh Road in the Martindale Valley on October 23.
2013 October 22
Jeremy Tatum writes: Several Banded Woolly Bears (caterpillar of the Isabella Moth Pyrrharctia isabella) at Maber Flats this morning. And a proliferation of new NO TRESPASSING signs there.
2013 October 21
Ann Nightingale tells us that the field off Stelly's Cross Road where the Field Crescents use to occur (next to Saddam Hussein's hideout), where the species was rediscovered this year by Aziza, has been scraped bare, and is to be the site of a gas station and convenience store.
2103 October 16
Jeremy Tatum saw a Cabbage White at Martindale Flats today.
2013 October 15
Jeremy Tatum writes: Here is a (slightly worn) Synaxis jubararia from Goldstream Park this morning. There seem to be quite a few of these around at the moment.
Gordon Hart writes: My wife and I walked out to the hawk watch site near Beechey Head in East Sooke Park today , Monday October 14.. We saw a fresh Mourning Cloak and a fresh male Pine White about 2 p.m. There were also many small meadowhawks. I am enclosing a picture of a Variegated Meadowhawk Sympetrum corruptum.
Variegated Meadowhawk Sympetrum corruptum (Odo.: Libellulidae) Gordon Hart
Bill Katz sends a photo of what we believe to be Acleris rhombana.
Acleris rhombana (Lep.: Tortricidae) Bill Katz
2013 October 14, evening
Val George writes: This morning at Cattle Point I found this female Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum). Also, there was a Cabbage White butterfly in Uplands Park.
2013 October 13
Two more micros from Bill Katz. 'Fraid I haven't been able to identify them yet!
2013 October 13
Jeremy Tatum writes: Thanks to Libby Avis for correcting my identification of one of Bill Katz's moths (September 10). I had originally identified it at Venusia cambrica, but Libby writes: It is Epirrita autumnata, not Venusia cambrica. They're very similar, but E. autumnata is a little larger and the terminal line is a series of double dots, whereas in V. cambrica the terminal line is a series of small triangles. V. cambrica also flies a bit earlier in the year. We get E. autumnata quite often in fall -- had one at the light two nights ago.
2013 October 11, evening
Here's a Banded Woolly Bear, the caterpillar of the Isabella Moth Pyrrharctia isabella from Blenkinsop Lake this morning. We'll be seeing lots of these in the next couple of weeks.
Isabella Moth Pyrrharctia isabella (Lep.: Erebidae - Arctiinae)
2013 October 11
Many thanks indeed to Libby Avis for identifying three of Bill Katz's mystery moths. Viewers can scroll down to October 7 and September 28 to see what they are!
2013 October 10
Bill Katz sends photos of two more moths from Goldstream Park. One of them (which I had misidentified in an earlier version of this posting) has been identified by Libby Avis as Epirrita autumnata. The other is Drepanulatrix secundaria, which seems to be quite common just now - I have had several at my Saanich apartment. Its larval foodplant is Ceanothus.
Epirrita autumnata (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz
Jeff Gaskin writes that on Wednesday, October 9, there was a Cabbage White at the corner of Gorge Road East and Washington Street.
2013 October 9
Val George writes: Here is a photo of a Mourning Cloak that was at Aylard Farm, East Sooke Park, yesterday, October 8.
Jeremy Tatum writes that he saw a caterpillar of the Isabella Moth ("Banded Woolly Bear") at Panama Flats this morning. Doubtless we shall see more of these in the next few weeks. October is the month for them.
2013 October 8, evening
Jeremy Tatum writes: I photographed this moth at my Saanich apartment today.
2013 October 8
Apologies to contributors who have had a wait a while for their contributions to be posted recently. We had a bit of a computer glitch. Thanks to Ann Nightingale for sorting it all out with her computer expertise, and we are now back in business,
There are evidently still some Cabbage Whites around. Jeff Gaskin writes that there were two along Carey road, and one right by Panama Flats , Baker Street, on October 6.
Jeremy Tatum sends this photo of a bug in the garden of his Saanich apartment building today. BTW, viewers may have noticed that on this site we adopt the convention that we use the word "bug" to mean "bug", which seems to be a logical convention.
2013 October 7
Bill Katz sends a photo of a dark specimen of Emmelina monodactyla from his ever-productive garage on Summit Hill, October 5.
Bill saw a Mourning Cloak at Swan Lake on October 7.
Gordon Hart reports a Cabbage White and a bumblebee on October 5 at the rose garden in Royal Roads University. Bill Savale identifies this as probably Bombus vosnesenskii (with a small possibility of its being the similar B. caliginosus). Gordon and Daniel Donnecke saw another Cabbage White at Swan Lake on October 6.
Val George writes that the VNHS Saturday birding group came across this Spotted Tiger Moth (Lophocampa maculata) caterpillar on October 5, at Viaduct Flats. We seek any images of this caterpillar to aid Kenneth Strothcamp in his continent-wide study of the colour variations in this species.
Bill Katz photographed two moths at Goldstream Park on October 3. Many thanks to Libby Avis for identifying them - they has stumped me!
2013 October 6
In an earlier version of this day's posting (since erased) I had misidentified one of Bill Katz's moth photos from Goldstream Park of October 3 (see October 4 posting). Bill has since correctly identified it as Ceranemota fasciata.
Following Bill's Alert I visited Goldstream myself today, and I saw several of these moths, and I managed to snap one of them:
Also at Goldstream today were several Synaxis jubararia. One moth, shown below, was rather larger and more boldly marked than the others. At first I took it for an unusually large and boldly marked specimen of jubararia, but Bill Katz suggests that it is actually Tetracis pallulata (formerly Synaxis pallulata).
The moth below was on the wall of my Saanich apartment building this morning:
Is there anyone out there who knows about crane flies, and who can identify the one shown below, from the Swan Lake Nature House this morning?
2013 October 4
Jeremy Tatum reports a Cabbage White from Island View Beach yesterday, so there must still be a few around. Let's keep a look out.
Bill Katz writes: Eva and I went out to Goldstream yesterday afternoon and found several species of moth, most of them on the siding of the Nature House.
Here are two of Bill's moths. Still working on the identification of the others!
2013 September 28
Not many butterflies left now, but Bill Katz has been seeing a few micro moths on Summit Hill. Libby Avis has kindly identified the first as the Lucerne Moth Nomophila nearctica. We can't identify the others for certain, but if anyone can, please let us know. Next month is October, and we should then be finding lots of caterpillars of the Isabella Moth. Keep a look-out.
2013 September 24
A couple of weeks ago Bill Savale found a Cucullia caterpillar on Gumweed at Island View Beach. It turns out not to be the usual Cucullia montanae usually found there, but a different species, which David Wagner has identified as probably Cucullia postera.
Cucullia postera (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum
2103 September 23
Jeremy Tatum writes: I found an interesting little (< 1 cm) caterpillar yesterday that was engaged in folding a bramble leaf in half and stitching the edges together. Thanks to Eric LaGasa for identifying it as Ancylis apicana.
2013 September 22
Welcome to the September Equinox, which takes place at 1:44 pm PDT this afternoon. We usually call it the Autumnal Equinox, but to those in the southern hemisphere it is the spring equinox - so September equinox will do for all. Bill Katz sends a photo of the October Thorn moth, Synaxis jubararia from Goldstream Park yesterday.
Gordon Hart sends a photo of a splendid grasshopper from Panama Flats yesterday. Now, c'mon, there, there must be some viewer out there who can identify it for us! Please let us know - we can't let this one go unidentified!
2013 September 21
Jeremy Tatum writes: Here is an Autographa californica from my Saanich apartment this afternoon. It is a migratory day-flying moth, but fortunately this individual appeared to be a day-dozing moth when I photographed it.
2013 September 20
The stage (egg, larva, pupa, adult) in which moths spend the winter varies from species to species. The moth photographed today and shown below, Homoglaea dives, is one that emerges from the pupa in the fall and overwinters as an adult. The caterpillar feeds spring and early summer on the leaves of Aspen and other species of Populus. I found the caterpillar at Blenkinsop Lake and released the moth on cottonwoods at the University of Victoria today.
2013 September 17
Bill Katz sends a photo of a Pug moth from his productive garage yesterday. The pugs are a large genus (Eupithecia) of very similar small moths and are hard to identify. There are several species around, and Bill's photo shows the general shape and appearance of a typical pug.
2013 September 16
Thanks to Eric LaGasa for identifying the pterophorid below, which turned up at my Saanich apartment yesterday.
Don't forget the September Butterfly Count this coming weekend. For details see the September 12 posting on this site, below.
And here's a very interesting mantis photographed by Connie Severson on Mount Tuam, Salt Spring Island, on September 7. Because it is an immature, it is a little difficult to identify with absolute certainty, but it seems probable that it is the European Praying Mantis Mantis religiosa. Karen Ferguson tells me that pupils from Fulford Elementary School raised and released them as a class activity two years ago. Rob Cannings tells me that the usual mantid sold in stores is Tenodera sinensis, so that is another possible identification for this one.
2013 September 13, evening
Val George writes: This afternoon, Sept 13, I saw a very fresh-looking Mourning Cloak at Esquimalt Lagoon. Here's a photo.
2012 September 13
Gerry Ansell writes: The Anise Swallowtail was again on Christmas Hill on Mon. Sept. 9. If it was the same one as on Aug. 25, it is now looking very worn. It was in the same location at the top of the hill.
Bill Katz sends photos of a couple of moths from Summit Hill, September 12. The geometrid is Enypia venata, the caterpillar of which feeds on conifers. Bill has identifies the other as Agrophila attenuatus.
2013 September 12
Jeremy Tatum writes: A Lesser Yellow Underwing Noctua comes flew into my apartment last night. Ten years ago it was a good deal commoner here than the Large Yellow Underwing, but now the Greater is abundant and I haven't actually seen a Lesser for the last couple of years. Both are European moths.
The last of the monthly Butterfly Counts for the season is coming up soon, September 21-22. There are still a few butterflies around (I think!), so let's all get out and see what we can find. To participate, please contact James Miskelly at 250-544-0455, email@example.com
2013 September 11
Jeremy Tatum writes: Right in the middle of a heatwave, but I'm still not allowed out in this sun. Nae bother, though, for I saw a Mourning Cloak right outside the window of my Saanich apartment this evening. Is anyone else seeing butterflies now?
Bill Katz writes: There was a large and noisy moth fluttering furiously against the outside of our building's glass front door last night at about 10:00 pm. The buzzing was somewhat similar to a hummingbird. Jeremy responds: Well, Bill, you ain't seen nuffink yet! Hawk moths and giant silk moths are very, very much larger than this! This is a Large Yellow Underwing moth invading from Europe. You sure caught its shining eyes!
2013 September 8, 2013
Jeremy Tatum writes: I managed to get out for a short while yesterday with Bill Savale, and there were still a few Cabbage Whites and Woodland Skippers around, as well as a fresh-looking female Purplish Copper at Island View Beach. Bill found a young caterpillar of Cucullia montanae on Gumweed. Two Large Yellow Underwings have flown into my apartment in the last couple of days.
Bill Katz writes: I saw a bright orange moth with a white stripe - species unknown to me - by the coffee shop at Pedder Bay on Saturday morning before the VNHS bird walk. Photo enclosed. We are indebted to David Wagner for identifying it for us as Gazoryctra mathewi. He says: "Great find!" This adds a new Family to this site.
2013 September 7
Connie Rutherford, a visitor to Vancouver Island, sends us another photo of a caterpillar of the Spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa maculata from Cowichan Lake. Please keep these photos of L. maculata coming - Ken Strothcamp is studying their colour variations, and photos of all instars are wanted!
Lophocampa maculata (Lep.: Erebidae - Arctiinae) Connie Rutherford
2013 September 6
Karen Ferguson sends a photo of a caterpillar of Lophocampa maculata from Salt Spring Island this morning. Please all keep a look-out for caterpillars of this species and send your photos in - Ken Strothcamp is doing a continent-wide study of their colour variations.
2013 September 2
Bill Katz sends another photo of Alucita montana. This shows the pattern a bit more clearly. Quite a few of these small but interesting moths are flying around just now. The caterpillars feed on the flowers of Snowberry.
Although we have lots of photos of the caterpillar of Lophocampa maculata on this site, please continue to get photos of the caterpillar. Ken Strothcamp is making a study of the colour variations of this caterpillar across the continent.
Jeff Gaskin writes: Today, Saturday August 31st, there was a Lorquin's Admiral at a private residence in the Gorge community. And Jeremy Tatum writes: And today, September 1, there was a Lorquin's Admiral in remarkably fresh condition at the north end of Melcroft Lane in Saanich. Butterflies become quite scarce after the end of August, so let's see how long we can keep seeing them before Seasonal Affective Disorder sets in. Last year observers were still finding quite a few butterflies into mid-September, and there was a remarkable Lorquin's Admiral on Salt Spring Island on November 11. Cabbage Whites were seen until October 9.
Bill Katz has photographed a micro moth in his productive garage on Summit Hill. It adds a new Family to the taxonomic groups in the site.
2013 August 30
Robb Bennett has narrowed down the identification of Ken Vaughan's jumping spider of August 27. He tells us that it is a male dendryphantine jumping spider. Before you reach for your dictionary, this just means that it is a spider of the subfamily Dendryphantinae of the family Salticidae.
Bill Katz sends some moth photos from his productive garage wall, August 13. The larval foodplants of the three species are, respectively, Cascara, Snowberry, Stinging Nettle.
2013 August 27
Karen Ferguson sends a couple of photos of an American Lappet Moth caterpillar from Quadra Island, last week. She reports that there were many Pine Whites on the wing, more than she has ever seen. Common Wood Nymph, Lorquin's Admiral and European (Essex) Skipper were present as well.
Gerry and Wendy Ansell report a late Western Tiger Swallowtail in their yard on Aug 20th and 21st. Also, today (Aug 25) they saw a very fresh Anise Swallowtail on the top of Christmas Hill.
And another nice selection from Ken Vaughan. If anyone can help with the identifications, please do let us know.
2013 Aug 24
Jeremy Tatum writes: I have re-examined the pug in yesterday's posting. In particular I examined under a microscope the pupal cremaster, comparing it with the electromicrographs in Bolte's monograph on Canadian Eupithecia, and, although I still cannot be absolutely 100 percent certain, I now believe it more likely to be E. maestosa rather than E. columbiata, which I had labelled it as yesterday. I have therefore changed the label to probably maestosa. Both species are supposed to fly in the spring rather than in August, but perhaps this individual didn't know that. In the meantime, here is another small geometrid which arrived on the wall of my apartment building today. Its caterpillar feeds on Ceanothus thyrsiflora.
2013 August 23
I think I have recovered enough to open Invertebrate Alert again, so I'm ready to receive and post observations and photos of local invertebrates. I probably shan't be in the office every day for a while, so you may have to expect a delay between your sending sightings in and seeing them posted. I want to thank you for all those telepathic good wishes you have been sending me. Keep them coming - by telepathy. The doctors caught the shingles early, and I have to say I haven't experienced much pain. It has just drained me of energy, and I'm not allowed out in the sun (very frustrating!) and I look a bit like the Phantom of the Opera. I am told that I will survive - it's just so boring waiting,
In the meantime, here are some moths and dragonflies of interest.
Bill Katz sends a photo of the moth Idaea dimidiata from Esquimalt Dockyard, August 8. The caterpillar of this moth is supposed to feed on dead leaves, and, although it's a fairly common moth, I have never found the caterpillar. He also sends photos of a Four-spotted Skimmer from the Beaver Lake Ponds, August 9.
Jeremy Tatum sends a photo of Cerisy's Eyed Hawk Moth - you can see the "eyes" on the hind wings - and also a Pug. The pugs are a large genus of small geometrid moths that can be quite hard to identify. I believe this one is probably Eupithecia maestosa, although that species is supposed to fly in the spring rather than in August, so I can't be 100 percent certain.
2013 Aug 9
Jeremy Tatum writes: I am sorry to say that in the last few days I have suddenly and without warning caught a bad case of shingles. The doctor says it will be over in two or three weeks, so, at least for a week or so, I shan't be able to handle Invert Alert. So please put your observations and photos on hold, and I'll let you know as soon as I am back in action. I'm sure many of you will want to send me good wishes, but please, may I ask you, to send them by telepathy and not by email or telephone. I shan't be in to the office to look at the computer, and I keep my telephone off the hook while I'm a-bed. I'm having good medical treatment and I expect to be ok and back to normal in due course. Thank you. Jeremy
2013 August 4, evening
Barrie and Irene Camp write: A newly minted Mourning Cloak was seen feeding on our Butterfly Bush early today. Mount Tolmie area.
Jeremy Tatum writes: I found the caterpillar below on Snowberry at Puckle Road, Central Saanich.
2013 August 4
Jeremy Tatum writes: This antlion was on the wall of my Saanich apartment building this morning. Of the four variations in the spelling of the family name that are seen in the literature, I'm going to use the one in the Scudder and Cannings catalogue, namely, without a -co- and with a t.
2013 July 31
Jeremy Tatum writes: Here is a Protoboarmia porcelaria from Mount Tolmie yesterday. Although this is supposed to be a widespread and common moth throughout Canada, it was a lifer for me! It has acquired the English name Porcelain Grey. When I saw the name "porcelain", I wondered if this was a correct rendition of "porcelaria", which made me think of a little pig. But apparently, through some convoluted etymological history, the words "porcelain" and "pork" have a common etymological ancestry related to pigs, and so Porcelain Grey it is!
The caterpillar below was found in (and rescued from) a large industrial garbage container while I was scavenging on Alpha Street, Victoria, today. It is the caterpillar of the Vapourer Moth, also known as the Rusty Tussock. There is, as far as I know, no truth to the belief that the bristles on a toothbrush are made from the tussocks on the back of this caterpillar.
2013 July 30
Ken Vaughan sends photos of a number of moths and dragonflies from Beaver Lake Ponds taken at the weekend.
2013 July 29
Karen Ferguson writes: I was out all night last night mist-netting bats. I ran into a couple of new insects for me. One was caught in the net and at first I thought it was some sort of clear-winged moth but on closer inspection I realized it wasn't a moth at all. The wingspan was about 4 inches and the body length about 3 inches. Quite an interesting insect. It was hard to extract from the net and as you can see it got a little damaged. The next was a bush-cricket that surprised me. The antennae on these guys are really long! These were taken at around 1:00 am on July 29, near Cusheon Creek on private land on Salt Spring. Island.
Jeremy Tatum responds: I've gone as far as I can with the ID. Can anyone go further?
2013 July 28
Jeremy Tatum writes: I visited the railway track to the north of Cowichan Station today, and there were surprisingly few butterflies there. However, I saw a Mylitta Crescent, 3 Margined Whites (which I think is just a local form of Pieris napi and probably shouldn't have full species status), and a fresh Satyr Comma. I also noted several second-instar caterpillars of the Satyr Comma there, showing that the species is at least partially bivoltine here.
Yesterday's Nycteola frigidana caterpillar wasted no time last night in making a cocoon within which to pupate. The cocoon is quite a remarkable shape.
Jochen Moehr writes from Metchosin: What a great collection is coming together here! I just have a small contribution: a Pine White. What is significant for
Rosemary Jorna writes: This small, battered butterfly appeared on my deck in Otter Point this afternoon and stopped to be photographed before taking off. It was a bit like a dream. Jeremy responds: Yes, it does seem to have had better days. But it is good to see one - I saw my first this year only today, and they don't seem to be quite as common as they used to be. Nice to have one settle on you.
2103 July 27
Jeremy Tatum sends photos of a young American Lappet caterpillar, and a caterpillar of Nycteola frigidana, both found on willow near Quarry Park, Central Saanich, today.
There are still a couple of Painted Ladies near the Mount Tolmie Jeffery Pine, and a Red Admiral sunning itself on the reservoir.
Mike Yip writes: On the homefront (Nanoose Bay), I thought it was time to check for the Woodland Skippers and Common Woodnymphs at the Garry Oak meadows. Sure enough they were both flying. This was my first visit so they may have been out much earlier. Pine Whites and a Mylitta Crescent were in the garden yesterday.
2013 July 26
Jeff Gaskin writes: Today, there was a fresh looking Mourning Cloak presumably just hatched in flight along Burnside Road West, just west of Jutland Road.
Jeremy Tatum was visited last night at his Saanich apartment by a Neoalcis californiaria.
Neoalcis californiaria (Lep.: Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum
2013 July 25
Jeff Gaskin writes: On Wednesday July 24th at Swan Lake there were 9 Lorquin's Admirals, 4 of each European (Essex) Skippers, and Cabbage Whites and just one Western Tiger Swallowtail.
Karen Ferguson writes from Salt Spring Island: On July 18th we went to try to find Dun Skipper in Burgoyne Provincial Park. We weren't successful for the skipper but I did net a moth in the grass/sedge area and would be interested in an id. I also found a pair of beautiful Anise Swallowtails copulating. If you look to the left of them in the photo you will see a chrysalis casing that looks as if it may be from the same species. There were many Anise Swallowtails on the wing in that area all freshly emerged judging by their finery.
Jeremy Tatum responds: Yes, that is the pupal case of an Anise Swallowtail. It seems they don't waste a lot of time before getting on with the necessities of life. They are so scarce in Victoria these days that it is good to know that there are still some around in our area. The moth is a day-flying moth of the genus Caenurgina. Although there are a few similar look-alikes in the genus, and a fair amount of variation within and between species, I think there is not much doubt that this is either Caenurgina erechtea or C. crassiuscula, moths of open fields and whose caterpillars feeds on clovers. Formerly in Noctuidae, they are now in the new family Erebidae.
2012 July 24, afternoon
Aziza Cooper writes: Here is a photo of some Cinnabar Moth caterpillars on Ragwort that I found this morning at Pedder Bay. The location is the entrance trail to the soccer field across the creek from the RV park.
2013 July 24
Jeff Gaskin writes: While with the Tuesday Group yesterday at Layritz Park and Broadcast Hill we saw 4 Lorquin's Admirals, a Pine White, and 3 Cabbage Whites. On our way there I counted 5 Pine Whites in the fir trees along Royal Oak Avenue.
2013 July 23
Mike Yip writes: Nothing new at Mt. Washington today. Anna's Blues were common at the lower end of the ski hill; Western Meadow Fritillaries were common from the 1/4 to 3/4 of the way up; Silvery Blues were common from 1/4 to all the way up; Hydaspe Fritillaries were common from 3/4 to all the way; only two Milbert's Tortoiseshells seen were at the 3/4 mark; Great Arctics continue to be common on top; orange moth was 1/2 way up; black moth was at the top.
2013 July 22, evening
Jeff Gaskin writes: Today on Monday July 22nd, at the Horticulture Center on Quayle Road there were 10 Cabbage Whites, 4 Pine Whites, 2 European (Essex) Skippers, 4 Western Tiger Swallowtails and 1 Lorquin's Admiral. With all the buddleia, and verbena they have growing there I was a little disappointed that I didn't see any Red Admirals or Painted Ladies there.
2013 July 22
Ken Vaughan writes that he found this moth, Pero mizon, on his balcony table yesterday morning. Jeremy Tatum notes that he also saw two of these moths yesterday, as well as a single Campaea perlata, near the lights at the door of the Swan Lake nature house. The caterpillars of both are excellent twig mimics.
On Saturday Mike Yip hiked up Mt. Arrowsmith from the base of the old ski hill hoping for a new species or two, but 'twas not to be. Despite the lush and beautiful alpine heather meadows, butterflies were quite scarce. On the way up a few Milbert's Tortoiseshells nectared on the heather and a few miscellaneous blue species seemed to be in a hurry going nowhere. At the peak a few Hydaspe Fritillaries were guarding their respective hangouts and that was it. I did see a fly-by Parnassian species at the base of the peak, but couldn't identify it. Other species seen at various roadside locations included Western Meadow Fritillary, Western Tailed Blue, Silvery Blue, Anna's Blue, Purplish Copper, Reakirt's (Mariposa) Copper, European (Essex) Skipper, a well-worn Zephyr/Hoary Comma, and many Clodius Parnassians.
Mariposa (Reakirt's) Copper Lycaena mariposa (Lep.: Lycaenidae)Mike Yip
Western Tailed Blue Everes amyntula (some authors Cupido amyntula)
2013 July 21
Jeremy Tatum writes: Following recent exciting reports from Mount Douglas from Gerry and Mike, I went up Mount Douglas yesterday evening at about 7:00 pm (the first time I had been there since they closed the road in the mornings), and indeed there were several Red Admirals and Anise Swallowtails at the summit. I also saw a lycaenid at the top, which may have been a Grey Hairstreak, but I didn't see it well enough to be sure.
Pine White Neophasia menapia (Lep.: Pieridae) Wendy Ansell
Jeff Gaskin writes: June 20 marked the first day of the VNHS butterfly count for July and I chose Cuthbert Holmes Park to do my count. I found 22 Lorquin's Admirals, 2 Pine Whites, and 9 Cabbage Whites. On Sunday July 21st, the second day of the July butterfly count, I went to the three Gorge parks by Tillicum Road and the following butterflies were seen: 5 Lorquin's Admirals, 5 Cabbage Whites, and 2 of each Western Tiger Swallowtails, and European Skippers.
Bill Savale and Jeremy Tatum went to Weir's Beach today, and we saw on the rocks there what was a lifer for both of us, namely a Maritime or Seaside Earwig Anisolabis maritima. Much larger than the Common Earwig, and quite an impressive creature.
2013 July 20
2013 July 19, afternoon
Here's a Cerisy's Eyed Hawk Moth, Cedar Hill Golf Course today.
2013 July 19
Jeremy Tatum writes: I have been able to identify the geometrid moth shown by Mike Yip on July 14. Scroll down to July 14.
2013 July 16
When Mike Yip wrote, earlier today: "Anise Invasion! Where? Mt. Doug. Saw at least eight freshly minted pristine Anise Swallowtails there this afternoon. Also a couple each of Hydaspe Fritillaries, Pale Swallowtails, and Lorquin's Admirals"
- I was so sure that the "Mt Doug" was a misprint, and that Mike had seen them on some hill near Nanoose Bay. But, no, it's for real! Mike writes: 3 Anise and Hydaspe at top viewpoint. Saw the Hydaspe fly by 3 times. 2 Anise on the knoll beside the parking lot on your right as you head to the viewpoint. 3 Anise on the peak to the left (south) of the parking lot. I see Aziza also saw a couple of Anise at Mt. Doug later in the day.
Mike also mentions that the Boisduval's Blue (see July 15 posting) was on Mount Arrowsmith, not Mount Washington, so I have now made the correction.
2013 July 15
Mike Yip sends a photo of the rarely-photographed Boisduval's Blue from Mount Arrowsmith, and a difficult-to-get upperside of the Great Arctic (particularly difficult to get in odd-numbered years!) Like many lycaenids, Boisduval's Blue has been moved from genus to genus. I'm not sure what genus it is in this year, but I'll label it Icaricia.
And Ken Vaughan sends a selection of dragonfly photographs from Beaver Lake Ponds, an excellent location for dragonflies.
Boisduval's Blue Icaricia icarioides (Lep.: Lycaenidae) Mike Yip
2013 July 14
Jeremy Tatum writes: Mourning Cloaks are still around. Two at Panama Flats yesterday. But where are the caterpillars? Not much on Mount Tolmie this evening - a couple of Painted Ladies near the Jeffery Pine, and a Red Admiral on the reservoir. The crows seem to have discovered that butterflies sun themselves on the reservoir. I saw a crow hop slowly up to a sunbathing Red Admiral and then make a sudden lunge at it. The butterfly flew off in good time.
Mike Yip writes:
Jeremy Tatum writes: Wow! I'll say, great day. Obviously there are butterflies up there that we don't get here in Victoria. The geometrid is Macaria signaria. (A very slight possibility of its being M. sexmaculata, but I don't think so. These Macarias are quite variable.) M. signaria has several English names. In North America it is the Pale-marked Angle. The nominate subspecies occurs in Europe, where in Britain it has the name Dusky Peacock. In forestry circles the caterpillar is the Spruce-fir Looper. Some authors place the moth in the genus Semiothisa. Libby Avis has identified one of the micros (see July 20 entry). Still working on the other one.
Dichrorampha vancouverana (Lep.: Tortricidae) Mike Yip
Jeremy continues: Now we come to a problem. What shall we call this blue? Are idas, melissa and anna separate species, or should they be lumped as one? Is North American idas the same as European idas? Do we have our own species ("vancouverensis") on Vancouver Island? Should the genus be Plebejus or Lycaeides? Since nobody seems to know who (if anyone) Melissa, Anna, Edith and Sara were, should we be using the possessive form ("Anna's"), or should it be simply the Anna Blue? I'd love to see the caterpillars of these butterflies and see how different, if at all, they are. Anyway, I have to label the photos somehow, so here goes.
And another problem. I find sulphurs very hard to identify. First, because I hardly ever see one. Second, because they never show their uppersides when settled. So I am quite happy to have Mike's identification of this one as a Western Sulphur Colias occidentalis. It is my understanding that the Western Sulphur is largely a resident nonmigratory species on Vancouver Island, while the Orange Sulphur C. eurytheme (and the Clouded Sulphur C. philodice if it ever occurs here) are very occasional migrants. The latter two species occasionally hybridize, so one could be tempted to wonder if they are really separate species, though the caterpillars are apparently recognizably different.
How can one identify these sulphurs from their undersides? According to Guppy and Shepard, the ventral hindwing discal cell spot of occidentalis seldom has a satellite spot - yet the illustration they give of a male within an inch of these words show one with a satellite - just like Mike's butterfly! Perhaps more important is that the margin of the spot in occidentalis is single, whereas the margin of the spot is double in eurytheme and in philodice. This would certainly seem to make Mike's butterfly occidentalis.
2013 July 13
Jeremy Tatum writes: Here is a Herald Moth from Lochside north of Blenkinsop Lake today. The Herald Moth spends the winter as an adult moth, and hence is one of the first moths to be seen in early spring. Thus it heralds in the spring.
Val George writes: Late in the afternoon of July 11 there were two Red Admirals sunning on the roof of the reservoir at the top of Mount Tolmie. Here is a photo of one of them.
2013 July 11
Jeremy Tatum writes: Here is a beautiful caterpillar admiring one of the roses in the garden of my Saanich apartment.
2013 July 10
Julie Michaux sends top, belly, and rear views of a beetle. She comments: I can't find photos of anything with only 4 stripes.
Jeremy Tatum comments: I am not sure what one counts (pale stripes or dark stripes or both?) to make up the ten stripes in the Ten-lined June Beetle, but I'm pretty sure that that's what this one is. How well the development of the several stripes appears seems to be a bit variable from individual to individual.
Julie also asks: Do you suppose this was making the noise we heard yesterday afternoon?
So - does anybody know, is the Ten-lined June Beetle a noisy creature?
Mike Yip writes: I noticed that perplexed look on your brow when you saw my photo and comment re "rejection." [Jeremy says: To see the perplexed look on my brow, go to the July 3 entry.] Mike continues: According to James Miskelly, when the female gives the "tails up" sign, it's "no go." Indeed, that was the situation with the two Saras in the photo. The male tried his best, but "no" means "no" even in lep language.
2013 July 9, evening
Ken Vaughan sends some photos from the last couple of days.
This is a Blue-eyed Darner at Swan Lake at sunset.
This is a Milbert's Tortoiseshell at Maber Flats. A very nervous butterfly.
This is a Lorquin's Admiral at Rithet's Bog. I'm seeing lots and lots of these.
This is a female Blue Dasher at Swan Lake.
This is a close-up of the female Blue Dasher.
This is a Tule Bluet at Swan Lake. There were many of them in the same patch of Sun, out of the wind. Competition for space was quite fierce. The males keep bouncing their tails up and down. Territorial signalling?
This is a female Tule Bluet. This one is olive-green. The variety of colors the females have is amazing.
This is a Carolina Grasshopper at Maber Flats.
2103 July 9
Mike Yip writes: Had a great day on Mt. Washington. On the lower slopes the Western Meadow Fritillaries were seen regularly, and at the peak the Great Arctics put on a great show constantly jousting with each other as well as the occasional Hydaspe Fritillary and Anise Swallowtail. One even landed on my hand, but they proved to be very challenging to photograph. They landed with their wings open exposing their beautiful orange topside, but immediately closed their wings to display only their cryptic ventral side. Other leps seen on the hill included many Silvery Blues ( including one amorous pair ), a couple of Hydaspe Fritillaries protecting their turf, only one fly-by Milbert's Tortoiseshell, a couple of Zephyr/Hoary Commas, 2 Parnassius sp., and one Cabbage White.
Jeremy Tatum comments: Great Arctics!!! How disappointing! You have shattered a long-held belief - I was always a firm believer in the theory that Great Arctics occurred only in even-numbered years, and now you have shattered that belief. I also harboured a belief that fritillaries were impossible to identify - but your photos of epithore and hydaspe have shattered that belief, too!
2013 July 8, evening
Jeremy Tatum writes: I found the pupa of the pterophorid Emmelina monodactylaat Swan Lake yesterday, and the moth emerged this morning.
2013 June 8
Val George writes: Here are a few photos I took on the Victoria Naturalists' dragonfly trip to Beaver Lake on Sunday, July 7, presented by Gord Hutchings.
2013 July 7
Jeremy Tatum writes: Several Painted Ladies and a Red Admiral at the top of Mount Tolmie late yesterday afternoon. Then, late at night, a slightly frightening long-horned beetle visited my apartment. Length of body 25 mm (one inch); length of antennae also 25 cm. Although it looks fearsome, it is probably doomed, for those white dots on its elytra are probably tachinid eggs.
2013 July 6
Jeremy Tatum writes: Bill Savale and I went up the to Spectacle Lake area today. Few butterflies - Western and Pale Tiger Swallowtails, one Cabbage White, one Essex Skipper, and a rather late Western Spring Azure. But lots and lots of Sheep Moths charging wildly over the hills. Here's a photo of a Cabbage White from my Saanich apartment today.
Gerry and Wendy Ansell write: Yesterday evening (Friday July 5, 2013) we went to the summit of Mount Douglas. There were at least 3 Painted Ladies and 1 Red Admiral.
Ken Vaughan sends some shots of dragon/damselflies from Swan Lake, July 5.
2013 July 4
We have noted before on this site that the several species of comma on Vancouver Island can be hard to identify. The species that we probably have are
Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus
In addition, some authorities list the Zephyr Comma Polygonia zephyrus as a separate species, but, at least at present, I think it is best to regard the "Zephyr" Comma as merely a subspecies Polygonia gracilis zephyrus of the Hoary Comma, and not to try to identify it at least until we have mastered the others!
As a help towards identifying some of our commas, Mike Yip has prepared a montage of upper and undersides. The first is unquestionably satyrus. Furthermore, in this species the undersides of the two sexes are fairly distinct, and we can say that it is a male. The second is believed to be faunus, and the third is believed to the gracilis, but perhaps not with total certainty. We would welcome comments and opinions.
The caterpillars of satyrus and faunus, by the way, are quite, quite different, with satyrus feeding on nettle, and faunus on willow. The other two are supposed to feed on gooseberry - but I have yet to find them.
2013 July 3
Jeremy Tatum writes: I got an email from Claudia Copley, who forwards a message from Betty Davison of BC Nature, saying: I am looking for a mushroom specialist and a butterfly specialist to do up an article for the Fall Magazine. I know that I just don't have time to do one myself, but if anyone is interested in writing an article for BC Nature or perhaps contributing a photograph, please get in touch with Betty direct, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Yip reports a few items from the past week or so:
2013 July 2, evening
Ken Vaughan took a little hike around Swan Lake this morning, and found a few interesting things. Help with dragonfly identification would be welcomed.
Jeff Gaskin writes: Today the Tuesday Group went to Blenkinsop Lake, and between Lohbrunner Road and the Don Mann excavating site we saw the following butterflies: 3 Satyr Commas, 2 Milbert's Tortoiseshells, 30-40 Lorquin's Admirals, 10-15 Western Tiger Swallowtails, some Cabbage Whites, and many European(Essex) Skippers. At Swan Lake we added a Pale Tiger Swallowtail by the parking lot.
2013 July 2
Ken Vaughan photographed a female Western Red Damsel yesterday.
Val George reports from Maber Flats on Canada Day: 1 Western Tiger Swallowtail, 1 Lorquin's Admiral, 2 Milbert's Tortoiseshells, 4 Woodland Skippers, about 12 Cabbage Whites.
Aziza Cooper writes: On a visit to the Island Timberlands site yesterday with Mike and Kathy Yip, we found this Satyr Comma, which appears more reddish than most. We found eight butterfly species: Satyr Comma, Hydaspe Fritillary, Clodius Parnassian, Pale Swallowtail, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Lorquin's Admiral, Spring Azure, European (Essex) Skipper. Also a black and white moth at Lois Lake. [This is the moth known variously as the Spear Moth, or the Argent and Sable. Jeremy]
Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Aziza Cooper
2013 July 1, evening
Bill Katz writes: Eva and I were out walking in a variety of spots today and we were treated with wonderful, often close-up views of dragonflies. We saw a Skimmer (8-spotted) and a dark dragonfly at Florence Lake. At lovely Outerbridge Park, we came across a lovely tan/green dragonfly with a yellow face (4-spotted).
Jochen Moehr sends some photos from Metchosin. He writes that the Lorquin's Admiral established itself on the very corner of a quince tree, where for some years now a Lorquin's Admiral has established itself to defend its territory. There are quite a few of the grass bugs in the grass by his pond.
2013 Canada Day
Mourning Cloaks are still evidently around. Jeff Gaskin reports one on the evening of June 29 from Swan Lake by the south end of the floating boardwalk
Ken Vaughan was also at Swan Lake on the same evening, and got a couple of nice shots of a Blue-eyed Darner.
WARNING!!!! Viewers of a nervous disposition should not view the following x-rated photograph, obtained yesterday by Ken Vaughan.
Ten-lined June Beetle Polyphylla decemlineata (Col.: Scarabaeidae) Ken Vaughan
Ten-lined June Beetle Polyphylla decemlineata (Col.: Scarabaeidae) Ken Vaughan
Kenneth Strothcamp in Oregon is studying the distribution, phenology, natural history and biology of the Spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa argentata. Please let me know of all sightings of this moth or its caterpillar, so that I can pass them on to Ken.
There will be further postings later on today...