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 (jtatum@uvic.ca). 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.

April 25

2107 April 25

 

   Annie Pang sends a photograph of a hover fly (syrphid), from Gorge Park, April 24.  As flies go, syrphids are relatively attractive insects, but are, unfortunately, notoriously difficult to identify to species from photographs. Specialists often want to check out he shape of a tiny structure at the base of the wing, called a calypter.  

 

Hover fly (Dip.: Syrphidae)  Annie Pang

 

 

   Annie also sends a photograph of a bee fly (Bombyliid).  They are parasitoids of Andrena bees.

 

Bee fly Bombylius sp.(Dip.:  Bombyliidae)  Annie Pang

 

 

   Rosemary Jorna sends some fascinating photographs of a globose springtail from Mount Bluff (above Camp Bernard), April 24.   (Still no butterflies, she writes!)  Since springtails are no longer considered to be insects (Class Insecta), and Collembola no longer an Order, I believe the current classification of Rosemary’s animal is something like this:

 

Phylum Arthropoda

   Subphylum Hexapoda

       Class Entognatha

            Subclass Collembola (springtails)

                  Order Symphypleona (globose springtails)

                       Family  Dicyrtomidae

                            Genus Ptenothrix

                                 Species Ptenothrix maculosa

 

 

 

 

Ptenothrix maculosa (Symphypleona: Dicyrtomidae)  Rosemary Jorna

 


Ptenothrix maculosa (Symphypleona: Dicyrtomidae)  Rosemary Jorna

 

Ptenothrix maculosa (Symphypleona: Dicyrtomidae)  Rosemary Jorna

 

 

   Jochen Moehr has recently moved to a new part of Metchosin – near Lindholm Road – and it appears to be an exciting place for moths.  He has sent a big bunch of photographs taken on the stucco today.  Jeremy Tatum writes:  I’m posting now the few that I have been able to identify today.  Others will be posted as we manage to identify them.

 

  The first is another one in the Egira rubrica/perlubens puzzle – except that now that we have sorted that puzzle out, I am sure that Jochen’s moth is a classic no-questions Egira rubrica.  Viewers may find it interesting to compare it with the images of the two species on the April 24 posting.

 

Egira rubrica (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Moehr

 

 

Hydriomena californiata (Lep.: Geometridae)

 


Feralia comstocki (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Moehr

 

Behrensia conchiformis (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Moehr

 

April 24

2107 April 24

 

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  We have been having some fun with Egira perlubens/rubrica!   I had not realized how similar these moths can be until Bill Katz sent us the first of the two photographs below, of a moth at Mattick’s farm, unsure as to whether it was perlubens or rubrica.  I wasn’t sure, either, so I sent the photo to Libby Avis.  As it happens, Libby had coincidentally just been spending some time on how to distinguish between these two species herself, and she remarked: “It is comforting to know I’m not the only one with this problem”.

 

   Libby spent a while pondering over Bill’s moth, and gave her best analysis and opinion, and I sent an email thanking her.  Less than a minute after I had sent my thank you note, my computer sounded a little “ping” to tell me of an incoming message.  It was Steven Roias,  who was totally unaware of Bill’s moth and of the correspondence between Libby and me, and he sent a photo (the second of the two below), also uncertain whether it was perlubens or rubrica. Again, I asked Libby! 

 

  The net result is that we now believe that both of the moths are Egira perlubens.

 


Egira perlubens (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Bill Katz

 

 

Egira perlubens (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Steven Roias

 

 

  Here for the record are some of Libby’s comments. 

 

  On Bill’s photo:

   The orbicular spot is a large, white, horizontal oval. In all the photos of E. rubrica that I’ve seen, the orbicular spot is much narrower, sometimes more like a bar than an oval, and always slanted down at an angle – not horizontal.  Also rubrica has a dark basal dash, sometimes quite faint, but always there. The photo you sent is a bit blurry, but I don’t see a basal dash. The edges of the tegulae are dark (which is the case in both species), but I don’t see a dash on the wing itself.

 

On Steven’s photo:

The orbicular spot is at a bit of slant, but it’s still big and no sign of a basal dash.

 

 

Jeremy writes:  The orbicular spot that Libby is referring to is the conspicuous whitish spot near the middle of the leading edge of the forewing – not the kidney-shaped spot beneath it.  Here are two of Libby’s archival photographs of perlubens:

 

Egira perlubens Libby Avis

 

Egira perlubens Libby Avis

 

   Now look at two archival photographs of rubrica from the Invert Alert site.  I think you’ll see what we mean by the shape of the orbicular spot.

 

Egira rubrica  Jeremy Gatten

 

Egira rubrica Rebecca Reader-Lee

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Nathan Fisk wrote, on April 22, No butterflies today.  Saw this bee warming itself after the showers at Fort Rodd.   Thanks to Annie Pang and Linc Best for confirming it as a male Andrena sp.  Annie comments:  Andrena is one of the few early spring bees and does not mind cooler temperatures.

 

Andrena sp. (Hym.: Andrenidae)   Nathan Fisk

April 23

2017 April 23

Happy Saint George’s Day, everyone!

 

Rosemary Jorna reports her first butterfly of the year – a Mourning Cloak on the Bugaboo Main past Port Renfrew, April 21.  This is the first report of this species this year received by Invert Alert.  She sends a photograph of a snail from the Walbran Valley.  Can someone identify, please?  (jtatum at uvic dot ca). She remarks that snails can retreat into their shells very fast for slow-moving animals – an observation that will be appreciated by anyone who has tried to photograph a snail!  [Jeremy Tatum writes:  I have often noticed, too, the astonishing speed at which slow-moving people can get in the way while one is shopping in the supermarket!]

 

Snail for identification, someone?    Rosemary Jorna

 

Bill Katz sends photographs of a micro moth and a caterpillar from Sooke.

 

Agonopterix oregonensis (Lep.: Depressariidae)  Bill Katz

Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Bill Katz

 

April 22

2017 April 22

 

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Yesterday at Munn Road I saw large numbers of Mesoleuca gratulata, including one compact (wing-to-wing) group of about 20 of them mud-puddling together, just as we often see Western Spring Azures do.  It was a very pretty sight.  Although it’s a geometrid moth, it almost deserves to be given an honorary title of butterfly.  I also saw quite a few Epirrhoe plebeculata, and even two Leptostales rubromarginaria.

 

   The caterpillar of gratulata is well-known —  it feeds on Rubus.  The caterpillars and foodplants of the other two species are apparently not known.  Galium has been suggested for plebeculata, and Prunus has been suggested for rubromarginaria, but I think both of these are almost certainly quite wrong.  It may be difficult to find rubromarginaria ovipositing, but it is surely only a matter of time before one of us spots plebeculata doing so.  This is the time of year, so please do try hard and watch this moth, and let us know what it lays its eggs on. And if you find an egg, I would be very happy to rear the caterpillar.  The moth is the little day-flying geometrid with orange hindwings that you see flying along with M. gratulata at this time of year.  It has been photographed several tines on this site – most recently by Mike Yip 2016 April 20 (at present on page 46) and by Gordon Hart 2016 March 31 (at present on page 50).

 

   Gordon Hart drew blank for butterflies yesterday at Maber Flats, but he saw 9 Sara Orangetips on Observatory Hill, and 4 Cabbage Whites and a Sara Orangetip at Panama Flats.

 

  Yesterday, Nathan Fisk photographed the spider below.  Thanks to Robb Bennett for telling us that it is Cyclosa conica.  He writes that the vertical “trash line” in the web is characteristic.

 

Cyclosa conica (Ara.: Araneidae)  Nathan Fisk

April 21

2017 April 21

 

   Steven Roias sends a picture of a micro moth photographed on his front porch on April 24.  We believe it is either Epinotia emarginana or E. solandriana.  These two species are both very variable, and Steven’s moth could fit either.

 

 Epinotia emarginana/solandriana (Lep.: Tortricidae – Olethreutinae)  Steven Roias

   The rather unappealing creature below is the maggot of a tachinid fly, which came from a pupa of a Pale Tiger Swallowtail, whose caterpillar was found last fall by Devon Parker.   The butterfly caterpillar and pupa were shown on this site for 2016 September 8 and 16.

 

Tachinid fly maggot  (Dip.:  Tachinidae)   Jeremy Tatum

 

Butterflies are still scarce, and Rosemary Jorna reports that, as of yesterday (April 20), she has still to see her first butterfly of the year.

 

But today, April 21, the Sun is out and it is warm, so a few butterflies are at last out.  Devon Parker reports that from Bear Hill he saw 4 Sara Orangetips, 4 Moss’s Elfins, and 2 Western Spring Azures on Bear Mountain. (He also saw a Western Spring Azure at Florence Lake on April 16.)  He writes that one of the Moss’s Elfins was nectaring on a Dandelion, and another on Claytonia parviflora. He notes that he has seen some Cabbage Whites from downtown Victoria to North Saanich in the last few days. Not far away on the Pathfinder Trail off Munn Road, Jeremy Tatum saw 6 Western Spring Azures, 7 Sara Orangetips, 5 Western Brown Elfins and 5 Moss’s Elfins (in 2.5 hours’ searching). All but the Western Brown Elfin were firsts-for-the-year for him. He notes that one of the Orangetips was nectaring on Dandelion!  He also saw a few Cabbage Whites from the car window on his way to Munn Road.

 

And even as I type, a message comes in from Nathan Fisk titled:  “What a day, Jeremy!”  So let’s see what Nathan has to report.  He says “The creatures have burst to life!  He saw Western Spring Azures, Sara Orange Tips and Cabbage Whites at Fort Rodd Hill, and he sends photographs of a Western Brown Elfin and a Satyr Comma.  I believe the latter is the first one reported to Invert Alert this year.

 

Western Brown Elfin Incisalisa iroides (Lep.: Lycaenidae)  Nathan Fisk

 Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus  (Lep.:  Nymphalidae)   Nathan Fisk

 

Rosemary Jorna sends a photograph of a beetle on Spring Gold on the top of Mount Wells yesterday, April 20.  Thanks to Charlene Wood for identifying it as a Soft-winged Flower Beetle, Listrus sp. of the Family Melyridae.  Need to have a close look at the naughty bits to be sure of the exact species.

 

 Listrus sp. (Col.: Melyridae)   Rosemary Jorna