This blog 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 ( 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. Click on the title above for an index of past sightings.The index is updated most days.

August 18 evening

2017 August 18 evening


For information on the August Butterfly Count and the September Butterfly Walk, please scroll down to the previous posting, 2017 August 18 morning.


Jeremy Tatum writes:  Yesterday I found a woolly bear caterpillar on the boardwalk  over Swan Lake, looking rather lost.  I took it home and offered it a number of foodplants, and it happily accepted willow, as you can see below.  It is none of the several woolly bears that I am familiar with from this area, and it is obviously a “lifer” for me, and quite exciting.  I shan’t know what it is until the adult moth emerges next year.  I think it has one more instar to go, and it will be interesting to see what the next instar looks like.


Today I saw a latish Lorquin’s Admiral at UVic, and also numerous Woodland Skippers still, nectaring eagerly on Burdock.


Unknown woolly bear (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae)  Jeremy Tatum



To continue with the bit I was writing about printing the names of animals.  The invertebrates that are discussed in this website belong to several Classes, of which the Class Insecta (with a capital I) is one of the largest.  Others are Arachnida (spiders, mites, harvestmen, etc.), Gastropoda (slugs and snails), etc.  Look at the Index to find the various Classes that the site has featured so far.  And in case you are wondering, Gastropoda is one of several Classes within the larger Phylum Mollusca.


Within each Class are several Orders.  Thus some of the Orders within the Class Insecta are Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies), Coleoptera (beetles),  Hemiptera (bugs), Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, ants, etc.).  Again, look at the Index to see more of these Order names.


And within each Order are several Families, all of which begin with a capital letter and (for animals) end in -idae.  Thus within the Order Lepidoptera we have Families including Papilionidae (swallowtails and parnassians), Pieridae (whites and sulphurs), Lycaenidae (blues, hairstreaks, elfins, coppers, etc.), Noctuidae, Geometridae, Erebidae, Tortricidae, etc., which are various moth families.


If you find a moth, say, of the Family Noctuidae, you may write that you have found a moth of the Family Noctuidae (with a capital N), or that you have found a noctuid (with a small n).  But don’t write that you have found or seen  “a Noctuidae”.  That wouldn’t quite make sense.  The Red Admiral belongs to the Family Nymphalidae.  It is a nymphalid. But it is not “a Nymphalidae”.  For a start, the word “Nymphalidae” is a collective plural noun.


In the caption to each photograph I write the scientific name (genus and species), followed, in parentheses, by a three- or four-letter abbreviation for the Order, and the Family (-idae).   Occasionally I may add a Subfamily name, which ends in -inae.  I do this usually for the recently-formed Family Erebidae, which includes some Subfamilies that formerly had full Family status – as, for example under the photograph above of a woolly bear caterpillar.  More rarely I may refer to a Superfamily, which ends in -oidea.  For example the Superfamily Papilionoidea includes all the “true” butterfly Families (not the skippers).


There are all sorts of other wrinkles about scientific names, but what I have described is enough for the basic purposes of the Website.   I’ll discuss English (“common”) names in a future posting.





August 18 morning

2017 August 18 morning


   From Gordon Hart:


Hello Butterfly Counters!

The next butterfly count period will begin Saturday August 19 running until Sunday August 27. Please use the submission form on the VNHS website:


You can submit a count anytime over this period, and you can do more than one count, just use a separate form for each count. In the case of repeat counts, or more than one person counting an area, I will take the highest count for each species. The count area is the same as the Victoria Christmas Bird Count circle. For butterfly identification there are numerous internet sites, but most or all Victoria species are listed on E-Fauna. If you select by photographer, all the photos under James Miskelly’s name are of Victoria species. Here is the link:,%20james&specrep=0


If you need suggestions for a place to count, please email me.  If you want to be removed from this list, please let me know. If you know someone who wants to be on the list, please ask them to email me. hartgordon19 at gmail dot com


The final butterfly walk of the year will be on Sunday September 3, meeting at Mt Tolmie , at 1 p.m. The trip is weather-dependent and I will send out another reminder closer to the date. 


Thanks for participating in the count!


Gordon Hart,

Butterfly count coordinator ,

Victoria Natural History Society 



   Jeremy Tatum writes: The Vapourer Moth (Rusty Tussock), whose caterpillar from Blenkinsop Lake was shown on August 3, emerged from its pupa this morning, I took it back to Blenkinsop Lake.


Male Vapourer Moth Orgyia antiqua (Lep.: Erebidae – Lymantriinae)  Jeremy Tatum



   Ron Flower writes:  Hi, Jeremy:   We went back to McIntyre Reservoir yesterday Thursday 17th. about 1:30 p.m.  I got lucky [i.e. skillful – Jeremy] to get a shot of a sulphur with its wings open.  I am pretty sure it is an Orange . What do you think? Cheers Ron Flower.  [Jeremy writes:  I think it is an Orange Sulphur!   (I.e. I know it is!)]


Male Orange Sulphur Colias eurytheme (Lep.: Pieridae)  Ron Flower


August 17

2017 August 17


   Notice.   In an earlier notice, because of my clumsy grammar, I may have given a quite erroneous impression to contributors that, in order to submit a photograph to this site, you must identify the insect you have photographed.  Nothing could be further from my intent, and I hope no one has been deterred from submitting photographs because of this.  All viewers are more than welcome to submit their photographs (or indeed just verbal observations with no photograph).  Very often you may not know the name of the insect – in which case I shall endeavour (not always successfully) to find out what it is.  What I do ask, however, is that, if you do happen to know the identity of the insect you have photographed (which is quite often the case), please let me know what it is, or what you believe it is, so that I don’t have to spend time identifying an insect whose identity you already know.


While on the subject of names, certain conventions are usually observed in the printing of scientific names.  Please don’t think that you have to adhere rigidly to these – that is my job as Editor.  I don’t want anyone to be put off by feeling that they have to go into all this minute detail. But, for those who are interested, I describe the conventions here – and I shall admit that it does save me a bit of editorial time when it is done right!


A scientific name has two parts, a genus (plural genera) and a species (plural species).

Thus the Painted Lady is Vanessa cardui.  The name is customarily printed in italic.

The name of the genus always starts with a capital letter.  The name of the species always starts with a small letter.  No exceptions.  At all.  Ever.   Hyphens, accents and other such marks are to be discouraged.  Originally, scientific names were Latin.  That is no longer strictly the case.  Nevertheless it is preferred if scientific names at least look sort of Latin, and obey the rules of Latin grammar.  The genus name for a common spider is Eratigena.  That’s not Latin.  It’s actually a meaningless anagram of another spider genus Tegenaria, though it does at least make some pretence of looking vaguely Latin.  Another example:  the noctuid moth species sulinaris is merely an anagram of a genuine Latin species name, insularis.


In any case, it is important always to check the exact spelling.  A mere approximation to the spelling just won’t do!


Sometimes the species name is an adjective that qualifies the genus name, a noun.  In that case it is important that the genus and species names agree in number and gender.  However, it is not always the case that the two parts of the name are noun and qualifying adjective.  They may, for example, be two nouns in apposition – in which case there is obviously no requirement for agreement in number and gender.


To be continued in a future posting…   In the meantime, don’t worry about it.  That’s the Editor’s job, and I’ll do my best to look after it. Now let’s get on with today’s contributions.  Jeremy Tatum



   Aziza Cooper writes:  At McIntyre Reservoir, I saw two sulphurs yesterday, August 16, and I have a photo of one. Two Painted Ladies were still there and one Woodland Skipper, plus 25 Cabbage Whites.



   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Our default sulphur is the Orange Sulphur.  However, the Clouded Sulphur is a possibility and hard to distinguish from the Orange Sulphur, so Aziza’s caution is well justified.  I think it is safe to label this one as an Orange Sulphur.  The upperside black border (faintly visible through the wings) is broad, and the hindwing underside spots are conspicuous.  And Ron’s recent photograph of a sulphur at that location showed a bit of the upperside orange.


Orange Sulphur Colias eurytheme (Lep.: Pieridae)  Aziza Cooper

   Jeff Gaskin writes:  Today, Aug. 17, at McIntyre Road Reservoir Kirsten Mills and I saw the following :  3 Purplish Coppers, 3 Painted Ladies, 3 Ringlets or Large Heaths, 3 Woodland Skippers and over 80 Cabbage Whites.


At the corner of Sayward Road and the Pat Bay Highway was one Pine White.


One Lorquin’s Admiral remains in my mother’s backyard on Wascana Street in the Gorge neighbourhood.

Nathan Fisk writes from Fort Rodd Hill Nursery:  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a red grasshopper before so this one really caught my eye. It was resting among the Silene scoulerii. [We’ll see if we can get a name to it in the next few days. – Jeremy]


The small bee was just a few feet away feeding on White-topped Aster. [We thank Sean McCann for identifying it for us as a Small Carpenter Bee of the genus Ceratina.] I love that you can see its feet covered in pollen. The asters are quite the show with Bombus vosnesenskii, Woodland Skippers and one other Bombus species.


Grasshopper (Orth.: Acrididae)  Nathan Fisk

Small Carpenter Bee Ceratina sp. (Hym.: Apidae)  Nathan Fisk


Dar Churcher sends a photograph of a beautiful plusiine moth, Autographa corusca, from her house in Colwood, August 17.


Autographa corusca (Lep.: Noctuidae – Plusiinae)  Dar Churcher

Autographa corusca (Lep.: Noctuidae – Plusiinae)  Dar Churcher


August 16

2017 August 16


   Aziza Cooper writes:  Yesterday, August 15, around McIntyre Reservoir I saw:


Sulphur – one seen in flight, no photo

Cabbage White – 20 or more

Painted Lady – 4. Three were worn and one fresh.

Anise Swallowtail – 1

Woodland Skipper – 1



  Mike Yip writes, from Nanoose Bay:  A Common Woodnymph stopped briefly in my garden this morning. Lucky I had my telephoto lens or I wouldn’t have gotten a shot. Also saw a couple of Cabbage Whites, 1 Pine White, and about 15 Woodland Skippers enjoying the patch of catoni asters.


Common Woodnymph  Cercyonis pegala (Lep.: Nymphalidae – Satyrinae)  Mike Yip


Woodland Skipper Ochlodes sylvanoides (Lep.: Hesperiidae)  Mike Yip



    Jeremy Tatum writes:  The Red Admiral, whose caterpillar was shown on July 31 and whose chrysalis was shown on August 7, emerged from its chrysalis today.  A freshly emerged Red Admiral a foot in front of one’s eyes is a creature of indescribable beauty.  Unfortunately it was too active to allow a photograph, and I released it on a Buddleia bush in UVic’s Finnerty Gardens.

August 15

2017 August 15


   Jeff Gaskin writes: Yesterday, August 14, at 4:50 pm, on Mount Tolmie on or near the concrete reservoir were a Red Admiral, a West Coast Lady, and 3 Painted Ladies. There were also 2 other ladies which I couldn’t identify because of wear and tear.


Today, August 15, the Tuesday Group and I saw a Western Tiger Swallowtail towards the start of Lochside trail and the connector bike path which ends at Blenkinsop Road and Mount Douglas Cross Road.


And today, August 15, Jeremy Tatum visited Mount Tolmie and found a Red Admiral and two Painted Ladies on the reservoir, and a further two Painted Ladies near the Jeffery Pine.


Mark Wynja writes:  On Monday August 14, 2017 I arrived at McIntyre Reservoir at 1:15pm. Upon my arrival 1 Orange Sulphur was observed flying over the flowers at the west side of the reservoir. After about 10 minutes it flew north and did not return. Also present were 1 Anise Swallowtail, 1 male Purplish Copper, 2 Painted Ladies, many Cabbage Whites, and 2 Eight-spotted Skimmers.  Here are some of Mark’s photographs from there – plus a Western Branded Skipper from Cordova Spit, August 6.

Male Purplish Copper Lycaena helloides (Lep.: Lycaenidae)  Mark Wynja

Anise Swallowtail Papilio zelicaon (Lep.: Papilionidae) Mark Wynja

Cabbage White Pieris rapae (Lep.: Pieridae) Mark Wynja

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Mark Wynja

Eight-spotted Skimmer Libellula forensis (Odo.: Libellulidae)  Mark Wynja

Western Branded Skipper Hesperia colorado (Lep.: Hesperiidae)

Mark Wynja