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.

May 15

2015 May 15

 

MAY BUTTERFLY COUNT

REMINDER

(From Aziza Cooper)

 

Tomorrow begins the May Butterfly Count. The count period is from the 3rd Saturday to the 4th Sunday – nine days. There have been many good sightings lately, so with good weather we should have a productive count.

 

Please use the form at http://www.vicnhs.bc.ca/website/index.php/butterfly-count to submit your results. Submit a separate form for each area you count, so I can take the higher number in case of double counting.

 

If you’d like a suggestion about what area to count, send me an email. tanageraz at yahoo.com

 

Please let me know if you want to be removed from this list. If you know of anyone who would like to be added, please give them my email address.

 

Thanks for submitting your sightings, and happy counting! 

 

The monthly butterfly walk is held on the first Sunday of each month. June 7 is the next walk. For this month only, we will be going to locations in Duncan. After birding the Cowichan Bay Dock Road in the morning, we will meet at the Somenos Lake boardwalk along the Trans-Canada Highway north of Duncan at 1pm. The walk will be cancelled if the weather is cool or rainy.

 

A butterfly field trip, led by Mike Yip and myself, will go to Mount Cokely on June 13. We will meet at the Helmcken Park and Ride at 9am and rendezvous with Mike at the Nanoose PetroCan station at 10:30am. I’ll send out a reminder email closer to the date. Rain date is the following Saturday, June 20. Please let me know if you will be attending.

 

 

    Aziza also writes, May 14: This afternoon seven species were around the Mount Tolmie reservoir, with two more in other areas:

 

Hilltopping at the reservoir:

Red Admiral – 2

Painted Lady – 1 (plus 4 others elsewhere)

West Coast Lady – 1 (LIFER!)

Mourning Cloak – 1

California Tortoiseshell, very worn – 1

Pale Swallowtail – 2

Cabbage White – 1 flyby

 

Other parts of Mt Tolmie:

Western Brown Elfin – 2

Western Spring Azure – 4

 

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Aziza Cooper

West Coast Lady Vanessa annabella (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Aziza Cooper

 

California Tortoiseshell Nymphalis californica (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Aziza Cooper

 

 

    Val George writes: On May 14, when I opened the front door of my house in Oak Bay this Small Magpie Moth Eurrhypara hortulata flew into the house.

 

Small Magpie Moth Eurrhypara hortulata (Lep.: Crambidae)  Val George

 

    Jeremy Tatum writes:  Here are two moths that emerged today.  One, the Scallop Shell, reared from a caterpillar found on Hardhack at Munn Road (where I released the moth today) last year, and the other, a Large Yellow Underwing, dug up as a pupa from a garden in Victoria last month.

 

Scallop Shell Rheumaptera undulata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jeremy Tatum

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

 

   Bill Katz sends two colour varieties of the caterpillar Erannis vancouverensis There must be tens of millions of these around just now – there’s barely an oak tree that doesn’t have one on every leaf in places now!  He also sends a new moth, Apamea cinefacta  for this site, and the millipede Harpaphe haydeniana, both from Goldstream Park.

 

Erannis vancouverensis (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

Erannis vancouverensis (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

 

Apamea cinefacta (Lep.: Noctuidae) Bill Katz

Harpaphe haydeniana  (Polydesmida:  Xystodesmidae) Bill Katz

 

 

May 14

2015 May 14

 

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  No great excitement today, though I found my first Essex Skipper caterpillar of the year today, at Panama Flats.  It was not full grown – maybe about third instar.

 

   Scott Gilmore writes:  My Ceanothus plant sure seems to keeps me busy. The same plant that produced the Drepanulatrix moths earlier this year was part of an interesting debate after I found many leaf mines in July last year. I never managed to raise a moth to find out what they were. Last night I observed hundreds of tiny moths all over and around the plant. The moths appear to be from the family Tischeriidae.  According to Terry Harrison two grey Tischeria are known to mine Ceanothus in California so this moth is either Tischeria ceanothi, T. ambigua or an as yet unnamed species.

 

Tischeria sp. (Lep.: Tischeriidae) Scott Gilmore

May 13

2015 May 13

 

   Libby Avis writes, from Port Alberni:  Two photos of the stag beetle which we found on May 3rd at Nile Creek Estuary near Bowser. This was confirmed to the genus Platycerus on Bug Guide.  Scott Gilmore writes:   Libby’s beetles are stag beetles in the family Lucanidae,  genus Platycerus.  Species is a little tougher but the greenish lustre, the mandibles and a few other characters suggest P. oregonensis over P. marginalis which are the two options here.

 

 

Platycerus oregonensis. (Col.:  Lucanidae)  Libby Avis

Platycerus oregonensis (Col.:  Lucanidae)  Libby Avis

 

   Libby continues:   And… this Nycteola columbiana flew into the front room on May 7th. Have only seen it here twice before, so thought you might be interested!

 

Nycteola columbiana (Lep.: Nolidae) Libby Avis

 

 

   Scott Gilmore writes:  The wonderful warm weather over the weekend brought out a number of interesting insects here in Lantzville. I found several families, new to me, of beetles including a Raspberry Fruitworm Beetle Byturus unicolor, in the Byturidae family, at Thimbleberry flowers, the only member of that family in Canada.

 

Byturus unicolor (Col.: Byturidae)  Scott Gilmore

 

 

 

Hundreds of dry bark beetles, Oxylaemus californicus (family Bothrideridae) were flying near where neighbours had cut down trees in the last week.

 

Oxylaemus californicus (Col.: Bothrideridae) Scott Gilmore

 

 

   Aulonothroscus validus a False Metallic Wood-boring Beetle from the family Thorascidae.

Aulonothroscus validus (Col.: Thorascidae) Scott Gilmore

 

 

 

   A remarkable longhorn beetle, a male Holopleura marginata (family Cerambycidae) was found sitting on a dandelion.

Holopleura marginata (Col.: Cerambycidae)  Scott Gilmore

 

A species of Leaf Rolling beetle (family Attelabidae) from the genus Merhynchites.

Leaf Rolling beetle Merhynchites sp. (Col.: Attelabidae) Scott Gilmore

 

 

   Most surprising of all was finding my first ever Featherwing Beetle (family Ptiliidae). This family has the smallest beetles in the world, many of them with strange life histories like parthenogenic reproduction so that some species are only female. I was lucky to find a “bigger” one at around 1mm long but did not manage to get any good pictures. I am attaching one that shows the remarkable wing of the interesting family that I hope to find again sometime.

 

Featherwing beetle (Col.: Ptiliidae)

Scott Gilmore

 

My son and I also came across a species of Grapholita (family: Tortricidae) that I have not seen before.

 

Grapholita sp. (Lep.: Tortricidae) Scott Gilmore

 

 

  Jeremy Tatum writes:  Here is a caterpillar of an American Tissue Moth from Swan Lake today.  Some caterpillars will accept a wide range of foodplants.  Others are specialists.  As far as I know the Tissue Moth caterpillar feeds exclusively on Cascara Rhamnus purshiana (also known as Frangula purshiana).

American Tissue Moth Triphosa haesitata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jeremy Tatum

 

 

    Gerry and Wendy Ansell write: We were surprised to find a Common Ringlet sheltering from the wind at Island View Beach this afternoon, May 13. 

 

    Jeremy Tatum writes that every book that you open puts a different adjective in front of “Ringlet”.  Since it isn’t really a Ringlet at all, I’m going to call it by its original name of Large Heath on this site – or else just use the scientific name!  Island View Beach is a good locality for the species, but May 13 certainly is a little early.

Large Heath Coenonympha tullia (Lep.: Nymphalidae – Satyrinae)

Wendy Ansell

May 12

2015 May 12

 

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Sorry there was no posting yesterday.  It was not from want of material – I just got a bit behind with other stuff.  It may take a couple of days before I’m fully back to schedule, so some of your contributions may be a day or so late in appearing.  But, keep ’em coming!

 

   Jeff Gaskin writes:  On May 10, on the Mount Tolmie reservoir there were 2 fresh Red Admirals, and 1 West Coast Lady. This was around 4:15 pm.

 

   Jeremy Tatum adds:  And at the same time, 4:15 pm, today, May 12, there were five species of nymphalid on the reservoir: Red Admiral, Painted Lady, West Coast Lady, California Tortoiseshell, Mourning Cloak.  Not just singles, either, but two or three of several of them.  Basking on the reservoir with wings wide open, or chasing each other excitedly in the sky.   Well worth a visit after about 4:00 on a sunny day.  And it would also be worth looking on other hilltops, such as Mount Douglas, Christmas Hill, and Highrock Park.

 

  Judy Spearing writes:   I was working along Feltham Trail today and I decided to check on some young Black Hawthorns that Saanich had planted last year. I found all of the young trees were covered and almost defoliated by a type of geometrid. I brought one home to photograph and have attached a picture to this note.

 

  Jeremy Tatum comments:  I thought I wouldn’t have to wait long before someone drew attention to this creature!  It is known here as Erannis vancouverensis,  although I am not totally convinced that it is anything different from the European Erannis defoliaria, also known as the Mottled Umber.   However, I’ll be a good boy and label it vancouverensis.  It is by far the most abundant caterpillar here at the moment, eating almost anything, but in particular attacking Garry Oaks.  In parts of Uplands Park there are two to three caterpillars on every leaf.  It is almost as devastating to the Garry Oaks as the menace caused by the dangerous invasive English Oak that was recently felled at Swan Lake.  The adult Erannis moths appear in the winter.  The males are quite striking, but the females have no functional wings.

 

Erannis vancouverensis (Lep.: Geometridae)  Judy Spearing

 

 

   Scott Gilmore sent us a puzzler with these two photos from Upper Lantzville:  They are Egira sp.   but which species –  Egira simplex or Egira crucialis?   The adults of these two species are very similar, although the caterpillars are different, so they are indeed separate species.  I have discussed them with Libby Avis and Jeremy Gatten, but I don’t think any of us would bet our life savings on which species it is.  I believe, on the preponderance of evidence (civil standard) that the first is probably Egira crucialis, but not beyond reasonable doubt (criminal standard).  The second is…?  Maybe simplex?  Not sure.  We evidently need to study these two species more closely.

Egira crucialis/simplex (Lep.: Noctuidae) Scott Gilmore


Egira
simplex/crucialis (Lep.: Noctuidae) Scott Gilmore

 

 

   Jeremy Gatten writes:  Here’s a batch of recent moths from Saanichton, plus a very good robber fly.  I found a few of the uncommon and uniquely-coloured Nicocles rufus  and I got some photos yesterday out in Colwood in the gravel pit off Veteran’s Memorial Parkway.

 

 

   Jeremy Tatum comments:  The moth Hypena humuli has a long snout (labial palpi), and is known as The Snout Moth.  The caterpillar feeds on Stinging Nettle, but also occasionally on Hops, which has given the moth its alternative name The Hope Vine Moth.  Caterpillars of Lithophane  species (“pinions”)  feed on various plants – but also on other caterpillars!

 

Hypena humuli  (Lep.: Erebidae – Hypeninae)  Jeremy Gatten

Lithophane amanda (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Gatten

Lacinipolia patalis (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jeremy Gatten

 

Panthea virginarius (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jeremy Gatten

 

Robber fly Nicocles rufus   (Dip.:  Asilidae) Jeremy Gatten

   Lots more to come, but they will have to wait until tomorrow.

May 10

2015 May 10

 

   Bill Katz writes: I found a West Coast Lady, my first, flying lazily about the Cedar Hill Cross Road entrance of Finnerty Gardens on Sunday morning, May 10.  I photographed my first ever Red Admiral this afternoon in our garden at Spencer Castle on Summit Hill.

West Coast Lady Vanessa annabella (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Bill Katz

 

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Bill Katz

 

 

   Bill continues: I found a Eupithecia rotundopuncta,and the second moth shown below, in Haro Woods.  I also saw a faded Udea profundalis, my first of 2015.

Eupithecia rotundopuncta (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

Perizoma curvilinea (Lep.: Geometirdae)  Bill Katz