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 3

2020 April 3

    Jochen Möhr reports an uneventful moth show in Metchosin yesterday morning:

2 Epitheica annulata/ochreacea

2 Epithecia ravocostaliata/nevadata

3 Hydriomena manzanita

1 Orthosia hibisci

5 Venusia obsoleta/pearsalli

 


Orthosia hibisci (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Möhr

Jochen reports another quiet morning today.  No pictures taken, but the following moths appeared:

 

1 Acerra normalis

2 Eupithecias

2 Hydriomena manzanita

3 Venusia obsoleta / pearsalli

 

Jeremy Tatum writes:   Here is a caterpillar found on Indian Plum Oemleria cerasiformis near Blenkinsop Lake:

 


Paraseptis adnixa (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jeremy Tatum


Paraseptis adnixa (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jeremy Tatum

 

 

April 1

2020 April 1

   Jochen Möhr’s moths from Metchosin this morning:

 

1 Acerra normalis

2 Eupithecia ravocostaliata/nevadata

2 Eupithecia annulata/ochracea

8 Hydriomena manzanita

8 Venusia obsoleta / pearsalli

 


Eupithecia annulata/ochracea (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


Eupithecia ravocostaliata/nevadata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr

 

March 31

2020 March 31

 

   Rosemary Jorna photographed three rather wet bumblebees sheltering from the rain near Kemp Lake, March 28.  The first two are a bit too wet to identify safely, but we thank Lincoln Best for identifying the third as Bombus flavifrons.

 


Bombus sp. (Hym.: Apidae)  Rosemary Jorna

 


Bombus sp. (Hym.: Apidae)  Rosemary Jorna

 


Bombus flavifrons  (Hym.: Apidae)  Rosemary Jorna

   Jochen Möhr’s moth haul in Metchosin last night:

 

1 Acerra normalis

2 Eupithecia spp. 

1 Eupithecia nevadata

2 Eupithecia ravocostaliata

10 Hydriomena manzanita

2 Orthosia hibisci

1 Orthosia praeses

8 Venusia obsoleta / pearsalli

1 Xanthorhoe defensaria

 


Orthosia hibisci (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr

 


Orthosia praeses (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr

 


Orthosia praeses (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr

 


Eupithecia annulata/ochracea (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

 


Eupithecia nevadata (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

 

March 30 afternoon

2020 March 30 afternoon

    Jochen Möhr’s haul in Metchosin last night:

 2 Acerra normalis

2 Egira crucialis

1 Anticlea vasiliata

3 Eupithecia spp. 

1 Eupithecia ravocostaliata/nevadata

10 Hydriomena manzanita

1 Lithophane innominata

1 Lithophane petulca

4 Orthosia hibisci

3 Orthosia praeses

1 Orthosia transparens

10 Venusia obsoleta/pearsalli

1 Xanthorhoe defensaria 

 


Anticlea vasiliata (Lep.:  Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


Xanthorhoe defensaria (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

   The next two are examples of the hard-to-differentiate pair Eupithecia ravocostaliata/nevadata. Libby Avis and Jeremy Tatum think there may be one of each here.  The mis-costal patch is supposed to be triangular in nevadata and rectangular in ravocostaliata, and I have labelled them according to that criterion.

 


Eupithecia nevadata (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr


Eupithecia ravocostaliata (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr


Egira crucialis (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr


Lithophane innominata (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr

 


Lithophane petulca  (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr


Orthosia hibisci (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr


Orthosia hibisci (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr


Orthosia praeses (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr


Orthosia transparens (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr


Orthosia transparens (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr

 

March 30 morning

2020 March 30 morning

    Rosemary Jorna’s photographs of the empidid flies have generated a lot of interest.  Here are two of the comments received, plus a further note from Rosemary:

 

From Dr Rob Cannings:

Definitely Empididae and maybe Empis, because it has the look of one. Other genera, especially the related Rhamphomyia, also have this appearance. However, I’m not really experienced with the family at the genus and species level and so am not sure. Empis has vein R4+5 forked near the end, whereas Rhamphomyia does not. I can’t see the venation well enough to tell here.  In general, for empidids, I need a specimen in hand, a microscope and a good key!
The male is on the top. As you indicate, courtship in some genera of the family involves the male presenting the female with a “nuptial gift” as a mating stimulus. This is either a prey item previously captured and killed by the male or a prey item wrapped in a frothy or silken package. In some species there is no prey in the package. The gift probably also distracts the female from attacking the male. I think Rhamphomyia never wraps the gift, whereas some species of Empis do.
An observer usually can separate the empidid sexes if the male belongs to one of those species where the terminalia are bulky and complex (usually the case). Females usually have the terminal abdominal segments tapered and acute (used as an ovipositor). The behaviour noted above also is useful.

 

From Libby Avis:

He gives her the present first to keep her occupied while he gets on with it. I believe it’s a not uncommon strategy among insects. In some cases (e.g spiders) it’s a necessary ruse on the part of the male to avoid being eaten by the female.  Given that she is going to produce and lay the eggs, it also gives her extra protein. Same general principle as chocolates on Valentine’s Day……..well, maybe not exactly……. but you get the general drift.

 

From Rosemary Jorna:

Looking through the file of photos I took it looks as if the one on top is hanging to its mate with the back pair of legs while the  other two pairs grab on to the support. The abdomen of the lower one is consistently plumper than the top one so I too think female; she seems to be the one with the claspers, locking the male in place while she concentrates all her attention and legs on dinner.
One single fly landed with a small black & white moth as dinner.  Most flying around seem to be single and carrying prey but they are small and fast until mating  I have not observed a pair meeting yet. I wonder if they will be flying tomorrow when I am out and about.

 

 

 

And while on the subject of flies, here’s another one, from a quite different family, Bibionidae, from Mount Douglas Park, March 29, photographed by Mr E.  Mr E suggests Bibio xanthopus.  Although Bibio is a large genus, xanthopus is almost certainly correct.  The large eyes show that it is a male.  They are sometimes called “March Flies”, although March is usually a little bit early to see them.  They should preferably be called “Saint Mark’s Flies”.  A well-known European species is B. marci, where “marci” does not mean “of March”, but rather “of Mark”, so called because it is abundant near to Saint Mark’s Day, April 25 – which is also about right for our xanthopus.

 


Bibio xanthopus (Dip.: Bibionidae)  Mr E