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.

March 26

2017 March 26

 

   Nathan Fisk sends a photograph of a bumblebee from Fort Rodd Hill, March 24.  Sean McCann writes:  Looks to me a lot like Bombus melanopygus, but I may be wrong.  [Jeremy Tatum writes:  Well, I since looked up this species of the Web, and Nathan’s photograph does indeed look a lot like Bombus melanopygus, so I’m sure Sean is not wrong!   Thank you, Sean!]

 Bombus melanopygus  (Hym.: Apidae)   Nathan Fisk

March 24

2017 March 24

 

    Jeremy Tatum writes:  We are struggling with some identification problems at the moment.  The moth below was photographed by Bryan Gates at Saratoga Beach on March 20.   It is either the American Tissue Moth Triphosa haesitata or the Barberry Geometer Coryphista meadii – a notoriously difficult pair.  Libby Avis, Jeremy Gatten and I (Jeremy Tatum) are all leaning towards Triphosa haesitata, so that’s how I’ll label it.

 

 Probably Triphosa haesitata (Lep.: Geometridae)    Bryan Gates

.    The second one is a micro moth photographed by Bill Katz at Goldstream Park on March 19.  Not sure of the Family yet!  Shall post the identification if we make any progress.

micro moth   Bill Katz

 

Jeremy Tatum continues:  On the other hand, we have made some progress with Nathan’s moth on the March 19 posting.  Originally I had labelled it “Possibly Hydriomena sp.”   After closely examining some photographs sent to me by Libby Avis as well as a few other photographs on previous Invertebrate Alert postings, I have decided to label Nathan’s moth Hydriomena nubilofasciata  –  with no ifs, ans or buts!

 

I came across another beautiful caterpillar of a Large Yellow Underwing moth, Noctua pronuba, at UVic yesterday.  I believe this caterpillar can be found in almost any month of the year.

 

Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jeremy Tatum

 

Nathan Fisk photographed the spider below at Fort Rodd Hill on March 22.  No difficulty in identifying this one – all one has to do is to ask Robb Bennett, who tells us that it is a female of our local burrowing Antrodiaetus pacificus.  Thank you, Robb.

 

 Antrodiaetus pacificus (Ara.: Antrodiaetidae)  Nathan Fisk

   Rosemary Jorna writes:  Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society was clearing broom from Whiffin Spit today when I came across these caterpillars getting an early start on the season.  Jeremy Tatum responds:   This is the Silver-spotted Tiger Moth.  They have spent the winter as young caterpillars.  The foodplant looks like Douglas Fir, which is usual.

 

Silver-spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa argentata (Erebidae – Arctiinae)

 Rosemary Jorna

 Silver-spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa argentata (Erebidae – Arctiinae) Rosemary Jorna

   Rosemary continues:  And when we got home this little moth was resting on the window screen.  Jeremy responds:  Another identification problem for us!  It is a pug (Eupithecia sp.)   These pugs are difficult, and there are lots of them!  My best guess is that this one might be Eupithecia annulata – but I can’t be certain.

 

Pug Eupithecia sp. (possibly annulata) (Lep.: Geometridae)  Rosemary Jorna

 

March 20

2017 March 20

 

   Welcome to Spring, which started at 3:30 PDT this morning. 

 

   It’s a pretty cold start to the season.  Libby Avis in Port Alberni remarks that it’s the slowest start to the season that she can remember, though she has had a few moths in the past week: 2 Eupsilia tristigmata, 3 Egira hiemalis and several Eupithecia gilvipennata.

 

   To help those who have no idea what all these long names are:  E. stigmata is a noctuid moth whose caterpillar feeds on various shrubs and low-growing plants (and also on other caterpillars if the opportunity presents itself!).  The moth spends the winter in the adult state, and so is often one of the earliest moths to be seen.  E. hiemalis is also a noctuid.  Its caterpillar feeds on Douglas Fir.  It overwinters as a pupa, and is one of the earliest moths to eclode (emerge) from its pupa.   E. gilvipennata is one of these small, narrow-winged geometrids known as “pugs”, most of which are challenging to identify. E. gilvipennata, however, is considerate enough to be well-marked for a pug, and, although variable, it is usually relatively (as pugs go!) easy to identify.  I have never seen the caterpillar, but it is said to feed on the flowers of Arbutus and Arctostaphylos.

 

  Libby agrees with my tentative identification of Nathan Fisk’s moth in yesterday’s posting as Hydriomena nubilofasciata or manzanita – more probably the former.

 

  In the complete absence, so far, of butterflies, and the paucity of moths, contributors are sending me all sorts of challenging invertebrates to identify (and please continue to do so!).  Ken Vaughan sends me the photograph below of  “a fly/midge/mosquito I found in my bathroom.  It didn’t strike me as a run-of-the-mill mosquito.”

 

Winter gnat (Dip.: Trichoceridae)  Ken Vaughan

 

  Well (writes Jeremy Tatum), that is a bit of a challenge, though I think we can be certain at the Family level.  It is a winter gnat of the Family Trichoceridae.  We’d need a specialist to go further than that.  If anyone can go down to genus or species level, please do let us know. In spite of what looks like a fierce proboscis, I don’t believe it can bite a human. Viewers may recall that a Gnat appears in Through the Looking-glass, and What Alice Found There.

 

 

   

 

March 19

2016 March 19

 

   Rosemary Jorna sends an interesting sequence of snail photographs from her garden in Metchosin. She found this 2 ½ cm snail under the leaves in her flower bed, March 17.

 

Tentatively Haplotrema vancouverense (Pul.: Haplotrematidae)  Rosemary Jorna

   She picked it up to see if the shell was occupied.  It was – but not by its rightful owner!

 

Tentatively Haplotrema vancouverense (Pul.: Haplotrematidae)  Rosemary Jorna

Rosemary waited a while to see if the interloper would come out.  Eventually, it did:

 

Tentatively Haplotrema vancouverense (Pul.: Haplotrematidae)  Rosemary Jorna

  It did a little bit of damage to the larger shell when it came out – not through the front door!

 

 

Tentatively Haplotrema vancouverense (Pul.: Haplotrematidae)  Rosemary Jorna

   Rosemary tentatively identifies both of the snails as the Robust Lancetooth Haplotrema vancouverense.  [Agreed – Jeremy] Although the body of this snail is typically whitish, Rosemary tells me that dark-bodied forms exist.  The Robust Lancetooth may look sweet, but is predatory on other animals, such as, according to Robert Forsyth, earthworms, slugs and snails, including their own species.  Whether the smaller one had assassinated and cannibalized the larger one, or had merely found temporary shelter in an empty shell, we leave to the imagination of the viewer.

 

 

 

Nathan Fisk found the little moth below fluttering among the Siberian Miners’ Lettuce yesterday (March18) afternoon in the learning meadow at Fort Rodd Hill.  Jeremy Tatum responds:  This is a rather a worn specimen of  Hydriomena nubilofasciata, the Oak Winter Highflyer.  Moths of the genus Hydriomena are called “highflyers”, though I don’t think they all fly particularly high. Nathan’s moth was obviously quite low!

 

 Hydriomena nubilofasciata  (Lep.: Geometridae)  Nathan Fisk

 

March 18

2017 March 18

 

   Ian sends a bunch of very-challenging-to-identify invertebrates from Sidney Island today.

 

We think the first may be some sort of a beetle grub.  A dermestid, maybe, or something similar?

 

Beetle grub?    Ian Cruickshank

Jeremy Tatum thinks that the next one might be a caterpillar of a noctuid – perhaps even noctuine – moth.

 

 

Noctuid caterpillar?   Ian Cruickshank

   The third one might also be a noctuid caterpillar, but I’m not 100 percent certain that it isn’t a beetle grub!

 

Possibly another noctuid.  Ian Cruickshank

 

Jeremy Tatum continues: The last one looks, on the face of it, to be the most obscure and impossible to identify, but we’re in luck.  It is a gall on Broom, and we think it might be the mite Aceria genistae.   That’s tentative at the moment, while we await the opinion of an expert.  Apparently there are lots of these galls on the Broom on Sidney Island.

 

 Possibly Aceria genistae (Acari:  Eriophyidae)   Ian Cruickshank