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.

January 26

2015 January 26

 

   Bill Katz sends a photo, taken yesterday in his ever-productive Summit Hill garage, of a Winter Oak Highflyer Hydriomena nubilofasciata.

 

 

Winter Oak Highflyer Hydriomena nubilofasciata (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

 

January 20

2015 January 20

 

    Jeremy Tatum writes:  Butterflies are not quite back yet (though if the current mild weather continues there is always a chance of a Mourning Cloak or a Satyr Comma).  In the meanwhile, Bill Katz has photographed an American Tissue Moth at Goldstream Park. The caterpillar of this moth is a specialized feeder, feeding exclusively, as far as I know, on Cascara.  He also reports a recent sighting, from his Summit Hill home, of an early Drepanulatrix moth.  We’d be interested in all photographs of moths of this genus –  at present we are not certain which species we have here.  Their caterpillars, too, are specialists, feeding mostly on Ceanothus.

 

American Tissue Moth Triphosa haesitata (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

January 5, 2014

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  I got a splendid present for Christmas – Mike Yip and James Miskelly’s brand new book Vancouver Island Butterflies.  I don’t know how many are left in the bookstores, but if you haven’t got yours yet, I should go and get one quick, while they are still available.  A must-have!

 

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  We were delighted to hear from the celebrated author and Booker Prize nominee Indra Sinha, from Sussex, England, who suggests that Guy Monty’s Catocala shown on the September 18 posting on this site may be Catocala briseis.  Some of these Cats can be quite difficult, but I agree that briseis certainly seems to be a good fit to Monty’s photos.

 

  Jeremy Tatum writes:  I didn’t expect to see Autographa californica at this time of year, but one turned up at my Saanich apartment on December 13,

 

Autographa californica (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

 

  Two comments so far on the proposal (in BC Nature mentioned in our December 12 posting) to introduce European butterflies to Salt Spring Island.

 

   Mike Yip writes: 

 I certainly hope the plan to introduce alien butterflies is defeated. The proponents of the idea must be related to the people who thought introducing Starlings and House Sparrows was a good idea. If these people have time and money to waste they should be working on protecting natural habitats and saving our native species.

 

 

   Aziza Cooper writes:

Is this person planning to release the introduced butterflies? Or will they be on display in an enclosed butterfly garden? If he is planning to release them, it’s difficult to forecast the effects of introductions, but so many plant and animal introductions have been so negative. House Sparrows, Starlings, Scotch Broom and Cane Toads are all disastrous lessons for us.  Wouldn’t it be a better idea for him to work on enhancing and promoting native butterflies, instead of bringing in non-natives?

 

   Jeremy Tatum responds:  I read the article a few times, and I have to say that it is not clear as to whether he is planning to display the butterflies in an enclosure, or whether he is planning to release them into the wild.  In either case it strikes me as an extraordinarily bad and irresponsible idea, and probably illegal.  I cannot imagine for a moment any arm of government issuing a permit for this.  As all naturalists know, we have an enormous number of introduced organisms of all kinds here.  One could easily add to  Mike’s and Aziza’s examples – Ivy, Spurge Laurel, Brown Rat and so on.  The only European butterfly that has taken hold here is the Cabbage White – hardly a welcome addition to our fauna.

 

  One might ask what are likely to be the adverse effects from introducing a few butterflies, most of which are nettle-feeders in the larval stage?  A brief answer is that I do not know – which is one of the strongest arguments for not introducing them.  One can rarely predict the effects of foreign introductions.  One thing that could be predicted – the Small Tortoiseshell would inevitably interbreed with our Milbert’s Tortoiseshell.  Or again in nature, the numbers of many of these butterflies are controlled by species-specific parasitoids, and, if these are absent on Salt Spring Island, the numbers of the introduced butterflies could multiply beyond control, to the detriment of our native species.  Mike and Aziza are quite right – we should all be encouraged to work on enhancing and promoting native butterflies, instead of bringing in non-natives.

 

2014 December 12

Jeremy Tatum writes:

The current (Winter 2014) issue of BC Nature includes an article in which it is proposed to introduce large numbers of European butterflies (such as Peacock and Map butterflies) to Salt Spring Island. These are to be obtained from a commercial supplier in England, known as World Wide Butterflies. The proposed butterflies include Painted Ladies which have been “specially designed” and have been artificially reared for generations on Stinging Nettles, which are not their usual foodplant here. The author is applying for a permit from Parks Canada.

This site would welcome short comments. Some viewers might also want to send comments to BC Nature or perhaps also to Parks Canada.

The article is illustrated with photographs of three butterflies. One is our native Milbert’s Tortoiseshell. Another is the Peacock butterfly, well known in Britain. The third is labelled “Red Admiral”. Viewers of this site who have seen the article will recognize that this is not the Vanessa atalanta commonly known here and in Britain as the Red Admiral, and may wonder what the illustrated butterfly is. It is in fact Vanessa gonerilla, a New Zealand endemic, known there as the New Zealand Red Admiral.

2014 December 04

The introduced European Winter Moth Operophtera brumata is usually a rather featureless grey (like the November 10 photograph), although some specimens can be quite well patterned. I think the European one is the one most often (almost exclusively?) seen in Victoria. The native Bruce’s Winter Moth O. bruceata (which Bill Katz and Jeremy Tatum have found at Goldstream Park), is usually well patterned. Annie Pang sends a photo of a winter moth from her kitchen window in Victoria. Although it is well patterned, Jeremy Tatum and Jeremy Gatten believe that this is a European Winter Moth O. brumata.

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Winter Moth Operophtera brumata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Annie Pang