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 ( 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 25

2017 May 25


   Wylie Thomas found another Cat on the Broom in Uplands Park – doubtless blown off a nearby oak in yesterday’s gale.


Catocala aholibah (Lep.: Erebidae – Catocalinae) Wylie Thomas



  Yesterday Gordon Hart followed a Leptostales rubromarginaria near the Pike Lake substation ponds, and he eventually found it in cop with another individual.  The two were slightly different in coloration, one much paler than the other.  It would be interesting to know if this is sexual dimorphism, or if one were merely more worn than the other.  The immature stages and larval foodplant of this tiny reddish day-flying geometrid are unknown. Gordon’s observation shows that the species is likely to be ovipositing in that area right now.  Here is someone’s chance to make a contribution to knowledge!  If anyone sees one ovipositing, please save the egg – Jeremy Tatum would be eager to rear it.


Leptostales rubromarginaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Gordon Hart

May 24

2017 May 24


   Sheryl Falls reports the sighting of a Mylitta Crescent in Nanoose on May 22.  This butterfly doesn’t seem to be as common as it once was, so all sightings are of interest.


Aziza Cooper writes: Yesterday, Monday, May 22 along the railroad tracks from Humpback Road to Goldstream Creek, I observed:


Cabbage White – 5

Propertius Duskywing – 2

Western Spring Azure – 9

Cedar Hairstreak – 3


The Cedar Hairstreaks were at the intersection of the tracks with Goldstream Creek, next to the Water District access road. I’m not sure, but I think the Duskywings may have been the first I’ve ever seen in that location.


I’m also forwarding a photograph of a Carpenter Ant.


Cedar Hairstreak Mitoura rosneri (Lep.: Lycaenidae) Aziza Cooper

Cedar Hairstreak Mitoura rosneri (Lep.: Lycaenidae) Aziza Cooper


Propertius Duskywing Erynnis propertius (Lep.: Hesperiidae)  Aziza Cooper

Carpenter Ant Camponotus sp. (Hym.: Formicidae)  Aziza Cooper


Gordon Hart writes: On Monday, May 22, 2017, I saw my first of year Pale Tiger Swallowtail here at home, along with a Painted Lady, Brown Elfin, three Spring Azures, three Cabbage Whites, and a female Green Comma Polygonia faunus.  I have attached a photo of the comma, and a Narcissus Bulb Fly.  Several were heard announcing their presence with a loud buzzing. There are lots of dragonflies around now. I have attached a picture of a female California Darner, and an American Emerald, Cordulia shurtleffii.


[Jeremy Tatum writes:  We have had just one or two reports of Anise and Pale Tiger Swallowtails this year, but not yet a Western Tiger Swallowtail.]


And on May 23 Gordon photographed a Dot-tailed Whiteface at the Pike Lake Substation ponds.

Thanks to Rob Cannings for dragonfly identification!



Narcissus Bulb Fly Merodon equestris (Dip.: Syrphidae) Gordon Hart

California Darner Rhionaeschna californica (Odo.: Aeshnidae) Gordon Hart

 American Emerald Cordulia shurtleffii (Odo.: Corduliidae)  Gordon  Hart


Dot-tailed Whiteface Leucorrhinia intacta (Odo.: Libellulidae) Gordon Hart

 Green Comma Polygonia faunus  (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Gordon Hart

Green Comma Polygonia faunus  (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Gordon Hart

   Julio Navarro found a caterpillar of Catocala aholibah on some Broom at Uplands Park, May 22.  The foodplant of the caterpillar is oak, so this full-grown caterpillar has finished feeding and is looking for somewhere to pupae.


 Catocala aholibah (Lep.: Erebidae – Catocalinae) Wylie Thomas


Nathan Fisk writes:  Caught this pseudoscorpion at Fort Rodd Hill today. Picking its way through the oak mulch.


False scorpion (Order Pseudoscorpiones) Nathan Fisk


May 23

2017 May 23


   Dar Churcher sends two pictures of the jumping spider Phidippus johnsoni from Colwood.  In the second picture notice the small droplets of whitish fluid on the wall below and to the left of the spider.  These droplets were spat out by the spider at a distance, presumably in this case as a defensive measure as the spider felt threatened at the approach of Dar’s close-up camera.


Johnson’s Jumping Spider Phidippus johnsoni (Ara.: Salticidae) Dar Churcher


Johnson’s Jumping Spider Phidippus johnsoni (Ara.: Salticidae)

Dar Churcher



Sheryl Falls reports a sighting of a Cinnabar Moth on May 19 in the Transfer Beach area of Ladysmith.  This is a European moth and it is interesting to know that it has spread as far as Ladysmith.  As a non-native moth, should it be regarded as an invasive pest?  Not necessarily, because its caterpillar is effective in controlling a rather invasive European plant, Ragwort.


Cinnabar Moth Tyria jacobaeae (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae) Sheryl Falls


Bryan Gates sends us a challenge with a photograph of a moth from Saratoga Beach, near Oyster River, May 20.  The moth is rather worn – so much so that Jeremy Tatum gave up on the identification.  However, Libby Avis successfully identified it as a worn specimen of Melanolophia imitata, whose caterpillar feeds on Douglas Fir.  A relatively fresh specimen of this species appeared on this site on April 26.


Melanolophia imitata (Le.: Geometridae)  Bryan Gates



Marie O’Shaughnessy photographed a male Sara Orangetip near “Warbler Alley” on Mount Tolmie on May 18, and a Cedar Hairstreak in the Goldstream Heights area, May 20.


Sara Orangetip Anthocharis sara (Lep.: Pieridae) Marie O’Shaughnessy

Cedar Hairstreak Mitoura rosneri (Lep.: Lycaenidae)  Marie O’Shaughnessy

Mik Yip reports seeing his first swallowtail sp. and comma sp. at Nanoose Bay today.

Jeremy Tatum replies:  Yes, it has been an extraordinarily poor season so far.  I have seen only one comma and no swallowtails of any species, and indeed no Western Tiger Swallowtail has yet been reported to Invert Alert. Mike sends pictures of a bumblebee, probably Bombus melanopygus, though we can’t be absolutely certain.


Bombus sp. (Hym.: Apidae)  Mike Yip

 Bombus sp. (Hym.: Apidae)  Mike Yip


May 22

2017 May 22


   Mike Yip writes from Nanoose Bay:  Western Tailed Blues are finally flying on Cross Road. Saw one on May 20 along with many Western Spring Azures and three Western Pine Elfins.


Western Tailed Blue Everes amyntula (Lep.: Lycaenidae)  Mike Yip


Western Pine Elfin Incisalia eryphon (Lep.: Lycaenidae)  Mike Yip


   Mike Yip also sends a picture of a pair of beetles that he found under an old log.  Thanks to Charlene Wood for identifying them for us as a species of woodland ground beetle, genus Pterostichus.


Woodland ground beetle Pterostichus sp. (Col.: Carabidae)  Mike Yip


   Val George writes:  My May butterfly count for Mount Douglas and the surrounding area, conducted yesterday, May 21, produced the following:  18 -20 Cabbage Whites, 10 Western Spring Azures, 8 or 9 Painted Ladies, and 1 Anise Swallowtail.

  Jeremy Tatum writes:  Top pf Mount Tolmie, 5:45 pm.  One Painted Lady on the reservoir, and three near the Jeffery Pine.  One Propertius Duskywing near the entrance to the reservoir.  And lots of Cabbage Whites.

  Dar Churcher sends a photograph of a striking syrphid fly, kindly identified for us by Jeff Skevington as Chrysotoxum sp.   Some of these syrphid flies are very striking in appearance and one would imagine they were easy to identify.  But to be certain, dipterists have to see a structure  known as a calypter or squama close to the base of the wing. A close-up lateral shot of a syrphid might be able to reveal this.

Chrysotoxum sp. (Dip.: Syrphidae) Dar Churcher





May 21

2017 May 21


   Ken Vaughan photographed a Swift Forktail at Beaver Lake Pond yesterday.


Swift Forktail Ischnura erratica (Odo.:  Coenagrionidae)  Ken Vaughan


  Jeremy Tatum writes:  Today Bill Savale and I walked along the railway line north of Cowichan Station.  There were a few Margined Whites Pieris marginalis  there, nectaring, as they often do, on Herb Robert.  There was a lot of Nasturtium in the adjacent ditch, and also a lot of Hesperis at the side of the ditch.  I think Nasturtium is probably the favoured larval foodplant, though in the past I have found and successfully reared them on Hesperis.  The butterflies we looked at were completely immaculate white above.  They are often completely white underneath, too, but, in the one we had a good look at, the veins on the underside were boldly marked in grey, looking very like the European Green-veined White Pieris napi.   The immature stages of the two seem to be indistinguishable, and a case could be made for lumping them both under the name Pieris napi.


  The flight of the Margined White is lighter and more floatier than that of the Cabbage White.  Not so light as that of the Pine White, but something in between.


    There were also a few Western Spring Azures there, and I saw my first Satyr Comma of the year.