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 19

2015 March 19

 

   Bill Katz sends photos of two interesting geometrids from Goldstream Park this morning.  The first is Thallophaga taylorata, whose caterpillar is reputed to feed on Sword Fern – a foodplant not chosen by many caterpillars.  The second is Anticlea vasiliata.  Both moths are new to this site.

 

  Jeremy Tatum reports his first Alucita montanae from his Saanich apartment this year.

Thallophaga taylorata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Bill Katz

Anticlea vasiliata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Bill Katz

March 18

2015 March 18

 

   Barbara Begg reports a very early Cabbage White from Kersey Road, Central Saanich, February 17.  And a Western Spring Azure (the first we have heard of this year) from Wain Road, Central Saanich, March 14.

 

 

  Jeremy Tatum writes:

 

   I am often given a verbal description of a moth and asked to identify it from the verbal description.  With more than 12,000 moths in North America, this can be quite a challenge.  They are nearly all brown and grey with spots and streaks and blotches.  It helps to know the words to use when giving a description, and how to describe the various markings and where these markings are on the wings.  Thus do you know where to look for a tornal spot, or an antemedial transverse line, or what the costa is, or the claviform stigma?

 

  I have prepared a three-page tract on how to describe the pattern on a moth’s wings, with diagrams showing where these things are, and the apex and the base, and a very few more, with a few diagrams, and a photo of a local noctuid moth nicely showing the reniform, orbicular and claviform stigmata.

 

 Unfortunately my computer skills aren’t up to posting it on this web site (I tried!), and I’m not sure how appropriate it would be anyway.  But if any viewer thinks it might be useful or helpful, let me know (jtatum at uvic.ca) and I’m pretty sure I can email it to you!

March 17

2015 March 17

 

            Jeremy Tatum writes:  I remarked to Scott Gilmore that some of the beetles in his photographs in yesterday’s posting were probably quite small beetles.  Scott replies, confirming this, and sending an even smaller one!  –  “You are right – some of those beetles were very small. 3-4 mm in length for many of them. They do get smaller. I have attached a picture of a member of the Melanophthalma genus (from the Family Latridiidae – Minute Brown Scavenger Beetles). My son and I found that on a Douglas Fir branch on March 13th and it was only 1.7mm long. I know beetles get even smaller but I am yet to find any of those.”

 


Melanophthalma sp. (Col.: Latridiidae) Scott Gilmore

March 16

2015 March 16

 

            Rosemary Jorna sends a photograph of Emmelina monodactyla from Kemp Lake Road, March 15.

 

Emmelina monodactyla (Lep.: Pterophoridae)  Rosemary Jorna

 

         Bill Katz sends a photo of a micro moth from Goldstream, March 13, and we are grateful to Eric LaGasa for identifying it as Acleris sp., and probably an unusually early Acleris britannia or Acleris schalleriana.

 

Probably Acleris britannia/schalleriana (Lep.: Tortricidae)  Bill Katz

 

  

   Jeremy Gatten writes:  I just returned from three and a half weeks in Colombia and I’ve had the lights on to enjoy the action that the warm weather has brought.  I have had the following species (although not 100% on the Xanthorhoe and Venusia):

 

Hydriomena nubilofasciata

Eupithecia ravocostaliata

Eupithecia graefii

Eupithecia olivacea

Eupithecia gilvipennata

Venusia pearsalli

Xanthorhoe defensaria

Hydriomena manzanita

Emmelina monodactyla

Agonopterix alstroemeriana

Orthosia praeses

Orthosia hibisci

Orthosia transparens

Egira crucialis

Egira rubrica

Cerastis enigmatica

Autographa californica

Lithophane innominata

Hypena californica

Nola minna

   He continues: I have pictures of most things, but won’t be back until Wednesday evening. Which species would be most entertaining for you to see?

 

   Jeremy Tatum responds:   My!   What a choice!    How can I possibly answer that one?  I can’t think of any I wouldn’t want.  So – Viewers of this site – please send your preferences to me  (jtatum at uvic.ca) and I’ll pass them on to Jeremy Gatten.  In the meantime, I, too, have difficulty with Venusia and Xanthorhoe.  I also have difficulty with E. olivacea/annulata so it would be nice to see olivacea if Jeremy G. is 100 percent sure.  I can’t remember if E. rubrica has appeared on this site before; I think it probably has, but very rarely.  Hypena is another difficult one, and it would be nice to see a certain ID. Otherwise send ’em all, perhaps at a rate of three per day!

 

   We have heard from Scott Gilmore in Upper Lantzville, who earlier sent us pictures of a caterpillar and pupae from Ceanothus, and which we suspected were Drepanulatrix.  One of the moths has now emerged, and it is indeed Drepanulatrix – but the question is – which one?  Both Scott and I (Jeremy T) believe it is D. monicaria– the only problem with that being that the species is apparently not on the Canadian list.  So this is very exciting!  

 

Drepanulatrix sp. (probably monicaria) (Lep.: Geometridae)  Scott Gilmore

 

 

   Scott also writes:  Other interesting sightings have been finding some interesting beetles under bark of rotting birch and Douglas Fir in the forest above my house.  These include:

 

Clinidium calcaratum, the only member of the Rhysodidae (wrinkled bark beetles) found in BC.

Rhyncolus brunneus,

an Ambrosia beetle, perhaps from the genus Xyleborus

My son found an Ironclad beetle, Phellopsis porcata. Family Zopheridae

 

At my backdoor I found the introduced ant mimic Rugilus orbiculatus (a staphylinid) and nearby was a Plate-thigh beetle (Nycteus infumatus) which has the ability to “jump” (picture family Eucinetidae).

 

Clinidium calcaratum (Col.: Rhysodidae) Scott Gilmore

 

 

 

Rhyncolus brunneus (Col.: Curculionidae) Scott Gilmore

 

Ambrosia beetle. Perhaps Xyleborus sp. (Col.: Curculionidae) Scott Gilmore

 

 

Phellopsis porcata  (Col.:  Zopheridae) Scott Gilmore

 

 

Rugilus orbiculatus (Col.: Staphylinidae) Scott Gilmore


Nycteus infumatus
(Col.: Eucinetidae) Scott Gilmore

 

 

 

 

March 15

2015 March 15

 

            Jeremy Tatum shows a pug from his Saanich apartment this morning.  Pugs are small geometrids of the genus Eupithecia.  On first acquaintance they may seem to be rather uninteresting and boring.  There are lots of them, all brown and grey and hard to distinguish.  Yet it is a very successful group, with many species (more than 50 in British Columbia alone), many of them quite common.  The caterpillars feed mostly in flowers, and many of them are quite specialist, to be found in only a few particular species of flower.  Some species in Hawaii, such as E. orichloris, are far from uninteresting or boring, for they capture and feed on insects that visit flowers.   Two of our British Columbia species, E. annulata and E. olivacea are notoriously difficult to distinguish. I think the moth I show is probably E. annulata, but I wouldn’t want to eliminate E. olivacea as a possibility.  Both species are conifer feeders.

 

Probably Eupithecia annulata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jeremy Tatum

 

   Bill Katz sends photos of two moths from Goldstream Park, March 14, and a moth and a bug from Haro Woods, March 15.

 

Cerastis enigmatica (Lep.: Noctuidae)

Bill Katz

 

Xanthorhoe defensaria (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

Autographa californica (Lep.: Noctuidae) Bill Katz

Brochymena affinis (Hem.: Pentatomidae)   Bill Katz