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 22

2015 March 22

 

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Judy Smith telephoned yesterday from her house on Grant Street to say that she had unearthed several caterpillars while she was digging in the soil in her garden.  Unsurprisingly, these turned out to be rather unprepossessing prepupal caterpillars of Noctua pronuba, a European invader often found in gardens.  She also found a mystery object, which I believe to be the cocoon of a hymenopterous parasitoid, probably an ichneumonid from its size.  Maybe it had come from a pronuba caterpillar.  [Added later:  It turned out to be a species of Ophion.]

 

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

Cocoon of Ophion sp.  (Hym.: Ichneumonidae)  Jeremy Tatum

   Jeremy continues:   And here is an Egira curialismoth from my Saanich apartment this morning.

 

Egira curialis (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jeremy Tatum

 

And this from Scott Gilmore from Upper Lantzville: I have never looked at the Invert Alert page with such fantastic timing. I found a Eupithecia species on my house this morning (March 21) that I have never seen before. Seeing Jeremy Gatten’s Eupithecia gilvipennata  from March 20 makes me think I found a much less boldly marked individual. I have attached a picture of the moth I found.

 

Eupithecia gilvipennata (Lep.: Geometridae) Scott Gilmore

   Jeremy Gatten writes from Saanichton:  It’s that time of the year again.  Behrensia conchiformis, that beautiful moth that lacks a common name, will start putting in appearances under lights to dazzle people with its striking green flecks.

 

 

Behrensia conchiformis (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jeremy Gatten

 

 

 

 

March 21

2015 March 21

 

   Jeremy Tatum sends a photo of another pug, from his Saanich apartment this morning.  He writes:  I consulted Jeremy Gatten on this one, and we both think that it might be Eupithecia annulata, though I don’t think either of us would want to wager his life-savings on it.

 

Probably Eupithecia annulata (Lep.: Geometridae)   Jeremy Tatum

 

  

 

   Bill Katz writes:  Herald of Spring.  This Scoliopteryx libatrix made an appearance at Mattick’s Farm on the first day of Spring.

Herald Moth Scoliopteryx libatrix (Lep.: Erebidae – Scoliopteryginae)

Bill Katz

 

March 20

2015 March 20

 

   Jeremy Gatten writes:  Here’s a boldly marked Eupithecia gilvipennata from my place (Saanichton) yesterday morning.  It’s pretty easy when the tan markings are this strong.

 

Eupithecia gilvipennata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jeremy Gatten

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!