2023 January 1
2023 January 1
Jochen Möhr starts the year off with a Hypena californica at his house in Metchosin last night. We can see why moths of the genus Hypena are called “snout moths”.
Hypena californica (Lep.: Erebidae – Hypeninae) Jochen Möhr
NOTICE: Readers will notice some poor formatting in the text of the 2022 Butterfly Report below. We are aware of this. It is a technical problem, and we are working to correct the problem and to find a permanent solution.
2022 BUTTERFLY REPORT FOR
SOUTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND
This short unofficial report is a summary of butterfly observations made in 2022 within the southern Vancouver Island birdwatching area and submitted to the Victoria Natural History Society’s Invertebrate Alert Website:
I am not planning to produce a printed version, but if anyone would like one, let me know (tatumjb352 at gmail dot com) and I’ll see what I can do.
This report does not (apart from one or two brief mentions of particular
interest) include the many butterfly observations reported from Vancouver
Island in 2022 outside the area described above (for full definition, see any
issue of the Annual Bird Report). Nor does it include (apart from an occasional mention) the results of the Monthly Butterfly Counts organized by Gordon Hart, which cover the area of the Victoria Christmas Bird Count Circle. These have been published by Gordon in the 2023 January/February issue of the Victoria
Naturalist. (***But see note at the end of this introduction.) It is hoped that this report, as well as the Monthly Count data, will give readers some idea of the dates when and places where our several butterflies can be found.
This series of Butterfly Reports has been posted on Invertebrate Alert
for 2014 and every year since then. The 2014 Report was posted on 2015 January 31.
All subsequent Reports have been posted on January 1 of each year.
In earlier reports we commented that the years 2020 and 2021were
characterised by extraordinarily small numbers of almost all species of butterfly. Poor as these years were, however, probably most observers will agree that at least the first half of 2022 was poorer by far. Most days during the months March, April, May and much of June and even the beginning of July were either cold, or wet or windy, or some combination, giving spring butterflies very little chance to lay their eggs. Most of July and August and much of September were dry or too hot even for
sun-loving butterflies. Plants (which serve as foodplant for caterpillars and nectar
sources for adults) were dreadfully parched, and few butterflies were on the
wing. In addition to the lack of butterflies, it is probable that observer effort was not as intensive as usual,partly because of the extreme heat of July and August, and also because of the high price of gasoline.
The first butterfly reported in the year was a Mourning Cloak, February 15. The last butterfly of the year was an American Lady, November 14. Thus January and December were the only butterfly-less months.
By way of partial compensation for the poor first part of the year, September and October produced some excitement with an irruption of both Orange and Clouded Sulphurs, and an American Lady appeared in November.
Several species were not reported at all to Invertebrate Alert during
Two-banded Grizzled Skipper
Great Arctic (in spite of its being
an even-numbered year)
The Monthly Butterfly Counts referred to above recorded one Purplish Copper and one Milbert’s Tortoiseshell in July, but also drew blank on the other species.
***An unfortunate misprint occurred in the Monthly Butterfly Count Table on page 6 of the 2023 Jan/Feb Victoria Naturalist. The Western Pine Elfin was not recorded on any of the Counts, and should be given a blank line in the table. The numbers of the remaining seven species have all moved up one line. Thus the line that starts
with 9 butterflies in April should refer to the Western Spring Azure, and so on down to the bottom of the table. Thus 22 Woodland Skippers (not Western Tiger Swallowtails) were counted in July.
HESPERIIDAE – Pyrginae
There were reports of only four Propertius Duskywings from April 25 to May 21, three of them from Christmas Hill, and one from the Panhandle Trail. Late reports were of one on Mount Tolmie on June 7; one at Viaduct Flats, June 14; and two quite late stragglers on Mount McDonald, Langford, on June 24. That is a total of only eight for the year.
TWO-BANDED GRIZZLED SKIPPER
There were no reports of this species in 2022. Numbers of reports of
this species for the last five years are:
This species, our smallest butterfly, is difficult to spot, and could be
missed. Nevertheless, it seems likely that this species is on the verge of disappearing from our area.
HESPERIIDAE – Hesperiinae
ESSEX (EUROPEAN) SKIPPER
First seen, a single, at Swan Lake on July 4. Common and generally distributed from July 5 to August 7. On this last date “lots” were still at Island View Beach, suggesting that these were not the last of the season, and the lack of subsequent reports was a result of observer fatigue rather than lack of skippers.
Hesperia comma colorado
There were no reports of this species (regarded by some as a full species, Hesperia colorado), in 2022. The lack of reports, however, is a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in restrictions on access to the known Central Saanich colony of this butterfly.
Reported from August 2 to September 14. Woodland Skippers were particularly abundant during August. This species seems to have been largely unaffected by the decline in numbers seen for other species, it remaining, in August, one of our most abundant butterflies.
PAPILIONIDAE – Parnassiinae
No reports of parnassians from the area covered by this Report. were received by Invertebrate Alert this year. This was probably (we hope) the result of the high cost of gasoline in 2022, discouraging observers from travelling far to places where these
butterflies might be expected. Jeff Gaskin and Kirsten Mills found three along the Nanaimo River on July 26, outside our area. Observers are reminded to make an
effort to distinguish between the two species in 2023; it is possible that we have both within our area.
PAPILIONIDAE – Papilioninae
All reports of this now scarce butterfly were: One on Christmas Hill, June 11. One on Observatory Hill (Little Saanich Mountain), June 22. Two on Mount
Tolmie,June 26. One on Mount Tolmie, July 5 to 11. Two at McIntyre Reservoir,
WESTERN TIGER SWALLOWTAIL
Reported from May 21 to July 25, plus two August sightings, on August 19 and 31.
Peak numbers were from mid June to mid July.
PALE TIGER SWALLOWTAIL
There were no reports during April and May, the first report being not until June 6. The species was fairly numerous in the period June 22 to July 5. After that date the only reports were of two on Mount Tolmie on July 21, and one there on July 25. The absence of reports during April and May was unusual, and was doubtless a result of the mostly inclement weather during these two months.
PIERIDAE – Pierinae
A poor year for the species. The first sighting was of two seen on July 22 at Pat Bay Highway and Sayward Road, by Kirsten Mills. Several were noted daily in Metchosin during the second week in August. One was photographed in Goldstream Park on August 15.No further reports after that until three were seen by Geoffrey Newell
at Witty’s Lagoon, September 9, and one along Sooke Road on September 10 by
There was only one report of this species in our area during 2022 –
doubtless because of the very high price of gasoline during the year, which must
have discouraged many a driver from driving to the colony along the railway line north of Cowichan Station. Val George made the trip and saw two there on July 12.
The first Cabbage White of the year reported in 2022 was a Cabbage White seen by Jeff Gaskin in the Martindale area on March 27. There were no further reports
until two reported on April 11. From April14 onwards they were seen generally
over the area. Although common they were not seen in such huge numbers as they usually are, for example, in the Martindale Valley, although Jeff Gaskin counted 120 there on September 2, and still 35 there as late as October 14. A caterpillar found on locally-grown Brussels sprouts on October 10 pupated on October 12. The last Cabbage White of the year was reported on November 1, when Val George reported one along Richmond Road.
Reported from April 5 to May 23. Most reports were from Christmas Hill (9 on April 25, 8 on May 1) and Mount Douglas (2 on April 5, 4 on May 23). Other localities from where they were reported were Hector Road, Layritz Park, Panhandle Trail, and Millstream Road.
A good irruption of sulphurs of both species occurred this year. Some individuals proved difficult to identify to species with certainty. For that
reason the two species are dealt with together here.
An Orange Sulphur was seen at Cowichan Bay, by Jeff Gaskin and Kirsten Mills, September 5.
All other reports were from McIntyre reservoir, Central Saanich, and it is believed
that all seen before September 29 were Orange Sulphurs. Pre-September 29
reports of Orange Sulphurs were as follows: One seen on August 16 (Jeff Gaskin). One seen on August 30 (Mike McGrenere). One on September 19 (photographed, Marie O’Shaughnessy). Four on September 20 (photographed, Kirsten Mills). Three on September 21 (photographed, Val George).
On September 29 Marie saw four sulphurs at McIntyre reservoir and obtained photographs of upper- and undersides, showing that these were Clouded Sulphurs. From then until October 14 several sulphurs were seen almost daily at the reservoir, comprising both Clouded and Orange Sulphurs as well as individuals whose identity was not certain. Probably most were Clouded, but because of the uncertainty of identity of some individuals, this cannot be stated with certainty. Photographs of sulphurs obtained during this period can be seen on Invertebrate Alert for the dates September 30 and October 3 (Marie O’Shaughnessy) and October 8 (Ron Flower). The last sightings were of one at the McIntyre reservoir and one near Lamont Road on October 14
LYCAENIDAE – Lycaeninae
No reports of this species were received by Invertebrate Alert during
the year. During the Monthly Butterfly
Walks and Monthly Butterfly Counts, only a single Purplish Copper was seen, in
July, in spite of dedicated searches for the species.
LYCAENIDAE – Theclinae
All reports were: Five in the Highlands area on May 31, and two there in June 21 (Gordon Hart); One, Cadboro Bay, Barb McGrenere, June 11.
All reports were: One, either a Western Brown Elfin or a Moss’s Elfin, Carey Road, Victoria, April 14; one, Mount Tolmie, during a VNHS Butterfly Walk, May 1; one along the Panhandle Trail, and one in the Highlands area, May 21.
There were no certainly identified reports of this species in 2022. A butterfly seen on Carey Road, Victoria, may have been this species or the previous one.
WESTERN PINE ELFIN
The only report received was of four seen by Aziza Cooper in the Sooke Hills on May 20
The only reports received of adults were of one seen by Devon Parker on Mount
McDonald, Langford, June 24; one seen by Kirsten Mills among the bedding plants
outside the Hillside shopping centre, September 2; one on the summit of
Christmas Hill, on the late date of September 30.
A caterpillar was found and photographed in late July by Marion Eldridge
feeding on the flowers of Lavender Lavandula. Two caterpillars were found and photographed on September 29 by Ian Cooper feeding on the flowers of Mentha spicata along the Galloping Goose Trail in View Royal. One of these taken by Jeremy Tatum for rearing pupated on October 5.
LYCAENIDAE – Polyommatinae
WESTERN SPRING AZURE
Unlike the other lycaenids, this species was still seen in good numbers
The first sighting reported in the year was of one along Island View
Beach on April 9. There were no further sightings until April 23, when one was
reported from Mount Tolmie; one from the Highlands; and three from Goldstream River. From then until May 19 only five more were reported. By the weekend of
May 20-22, however, the butterfly was numerous, sample counts being 50 near
the “yellow gate” along Munn Road; 15 along the Panhandle trail; and 25 in the
Highlands. Western Spring Azures were seen generally on a daily basis from many locations from then until June 25; these included a count of 16 at the Goldstream campground on June 2. No adults were reported after June 25; however, a caterpillar was found on the flowers of Ocean Spray at Swan Lake on July 5.
No reports of this butterfly were received in 2022, nor were any seen on any of the monthly Butterfly Walks or Counts. We are not certain if any watchers visited the two known colonies during the year.
NYMPHALIDAE – Nymphalinae
The first sightings of Satyr Commas were of two along the Lochside Trail
near Blenkinsop Lake, where they regularly breed, and one at Island View Beach,
all on March 30. From April 5 until July 2 there were reports of 16 Satyr
Commas from eight locations. No caterpillars
All but one report came from Gordon Hart’s property in the Highlands, where there were one or two on many days, March 6 to June 21. Three were spotted by Jeff Gaskin and Kirsten Mills at Francis/King Park, April 24. No caterpillars were reported.
One on the Mount Tolmie reservoir on March 5 attracted many visitors to
the site, some of whom were admiring the “Monarch” butterfly! A photograph of it was obtained by Rosemary Weir. A single California Tortoiseshell was seen on the Mount Tolmie reservoir on many dates from March 25 until May 22; these sightings may all have been of the same individual seen there on March 5. Three were seen on Mount Doulas on March 29, and one there on May 23. One was seen in the Sooke Hills on May 20, and one in Gowlland Todd Park, July 20.
Although 2022 was a poor year for many butterfly species, 2022 was another good year for Mourning Cloaks. One on February 13 near Francis/King Park was the first butterfly report of the year. From then until August 12, 25 were reported from 14 localities throughout the area.
There were no reports to Invertebrate Alert of this species during the
year, although one was reported during the July Butterfly Count. Only one was seen in each of 2020 and 2021.
For most of the year it looked as though there were to be no sightings of this species in 2022. But then one was photographed at Island View Beach by Don Kramer and Sharon Godkin on November 14. There has now been at least
one sighting of this (nominally rare!) species in each of the past six years.
This was only a moderate Painted Lady year. One was seen on Mount Douglas on April 19. One was on Mount Tolmie on May 27, and four were there on June19. One, possibly a single individual, was seen on Mount Tolmie from June 20 to July 5. Three were there, July 8 and July 11. One was seen on Little Saanich Mountain (Observatory Hill) on June 22 and July 30. From then, there were no further reports until September 28, when two worn individuals appeared on Mount Tolmie and were seen there until October 5.
WEST COAST LADY
There had been no reports of this species in the area in 2020 or 2021. Hence (until the exciting arrival of two sulphur species in September) one successfully photographed on Mount Tolmie on July 7 by Marie O’Shaughnessy laid a good claim to be Butterfly of the Year. This was the only sighting in 2022.
One was seen and photographed on Mount Tolmie by Val George on May 8. A single Red Admiral was seen on Mount Tolmie on several dates from May 21 to June 20. These sightings may all have been of the same individual seen there on
May 8. A new, much fresher one was seen there on June 21. Individuals were seen at Blenkinsop Lake and on Observatory Hill on June 22; along Arbutus Road on
June 26; and along the Lochside Trail near Blenkinsop Lake on July18. One or two on Mount Tolmie on several dates from July 8 to 25 and again from August 21 to 28. One photographed by Aziza Cooper on the late date of September 20. Two caterpillars were found on Stinging Nettle along the Lochside Trail on July 15.
They produced adults on August 2 and 3; these were released near where
the caterpillars were found.
NYMPHALIDAE – Argynninae
There were no reports to Invertebrate Alert of Hydaspe or Zerene Fritillaries in 2022 in the area covered by this report.
NYMPHALIDAE – Melitaeinae
There were no reports to Invertebrate Alert of Field or Mylitta
Crescents in 2022 in the area covered by this report.
NYMPHALIDAE – Limenitidinae
The first reports of the year were of three on June 22. From that date onward they were common and widely distributed through the remainder of June and all of July. Seventeen were reported on July 18, and 14 on July 22. Curiously, there was only one report during August – on the 22nd. This was doubtless because the butterfly was
such a familiar sight that observers were no longer reporting them. There were sightings of ten Lorquin’s Admirals in the period September 2 – 26, and two in separate localities as late as October 2. A pupa was found in Broadmead on June 24.
NYMPHALIDAE – Satyrinae
RINGLET or LARGE HEATH
Reported from June 14 to September 11. This is a rather localized butterfly, all reports coming from Quick’s Bottom, Viaduct Flats, Layritz Park and Island View Beach. A total of 19 were counted in the first three of these locations on June 24.
There were no reports of Common Woodnymphs or Great Arctics