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.

April 27

2015 April 27


   Scott Gilmore writes:   I have attached an interesting Chalcid Wasp I found in my Upper Lantzville backyard on Saturday April 25th. It was found flying around a Douglas Fir and sure enough has been confirmed as a Douglas Fir Seed Chalcid by Ross Hill  (Hymenoptera: Torymidae, Megastigmus spermotrophus)


The BC Forestry Genetics Council has a nice little leaflet on the life cycle of



   [Jeremy Tatum comments:  The English name “chalcid” might seem to imply that it comes from a family “Chalcidae”.  There was a family with such a name at one time, but since then the taxonomy of these and related insects has been greatly revised – although the English name “chalcid” has stuck for many of them.  At present there is a superfamily called Chalcidoidea, which includes many related families, one of which is Chalcididae (with an extra syllable stuck in there!)  They are all very tiny insects, and Scott obviously has some hidden expertise in photographing them.  Some of them are butterfly and moth parasitoids.  The adult wasp of these lays many eggs inside a single moth egg.  The grubs that hatch then spend their entire larval and pupal life inside the moth egg.  I have seen about twenty adult chalcidoid wasps of the family Pteromalidae emerge from a single egg of the Polyphemus Moth.   The insects that Scott has photographed are not moth parasitoids, however, but from another chalcidoid family – Torymidae –  and they spend their immature stages in fir cone seeds.  The link to the leaflet that Scott gives is most interesting and worth looking at.]


Megastigmus spermotrophus (Hym.: Torymidae)  Scott Gilmore

 Megastigmus spermotrophus (Hym.: Torymidae)  Scott Gilmore




April 26

2015 April 26


   Gordon Hart writes:  I have attached a photo of a nice geometrid moth that has been inside our greenhouse for about a week. I thought the brown colouring was a bit unusual.


    Jeremy Tatum replies:  Yes, this is a nice colour variety (which I haven’t seen) of the Barberry Geometer.  The foodplant of the caterpillar is usually listed as Barberry, although here in Victoria I have found it on Mahonia, which is in the same botanical family.

Barberry Geometer Coryphista meadii (Lep.: Geometridae)  Gordon Hart


April 25

2015 April 25


    Please see below an exciting memo from Aziza Cooper concerning a field trip in June led by Mike Zip to Mount Cokely to see lots of butterflies that we don’t get here.  Note that the departure time is 9:00 am, (not 9:30 as wrongly given in an earlier version which you may have seen).  Note also Aziza’s last sentence – she would like a reply from those who plan to go!


    Hi Butterfly watchers,


Mike Yip has offered to guide us on a trip to Mount Cokely to search for butterflies. He would like to go on Saturday, June 13. In case of cloudy weather, we would try for the following week, June 20. Weekends are best due to logging truck traffic during the week.


We would leave from Helmcken Park and Ride at 9:00 am, and meet Mike at the PetroCan station at Nanoose Bay at 10:45am. Access to Mount Cokely is from the Alberni Summit. Roads are dirt but in good shape – no need for four-wheel drive or high clearance.


We will drive to the bottom of the old ski hill. On the way we should find at least a dozen species. Mike writes: Besides the more common species we have a good chance of seeing Boisduval’s, Silvery, and Western Tailed Blues; Arctic Skipper, Persius Duskywing, Clodius Apollo, Western Sulphur, Western Meadow Fritillary, and Great Arctic


From the ski hill it’s a stiff climb to the summit for those who want to check for the Rocky Mountain Apollo and Arctic Blue. Elevation gain is 600m. Here is a link to a description of the climb:


The trip will be postponed in case of cloudy weather, till June 20 or possibly July 25 or August 1. Forest closures might be a problem for the later dates if the summer is a scorcher.


This is an all-day trip. Bring water and a lunch; dress for the weather – hopefully sunny! Bring butterfly field guides, camera, close-focus binocs and hiking boots.


We will be sharing driving and expenses, about $15 each. Please reply to this email (tanageraz at to let me know if you’re interested and say if you’re willing to drive and how many riders you could take.




April 24

2014 April 24


   Daniel Dönnecke found a spectacular moth at the Interurban campus of Camosun College on April 23.  He was caught off-guard without a camera, but his colleague

Todd Rayson quickly stepped in and got a couple of fine photographs.  It is a male Ceanothus Silk Moth.  You can tell that it is a male because of its fine bipectinate antennae.  There’s a new word!  From the Latin pecten – pectinis,  a comb.


  These antennae are so sensitive that they can detect molecules of female pheromone from a distance of  ?  Well… some authors say more than a mile.  I don’t know if this is true, but, in case you are inclined to doubt it, remember what you were taught at school – that every breath you take contains at least one molecule from the dying breath of Julius  Caesar. (I don’t know if that’s true, either.)

Ceanothus Silk Moth Hyalophora euryalus (Lep.: Saturniidae) Todd Rayson


Bipectinate antennae (Hyalophora euryalus) Todd Rayson



   Scott Gilmore photographed a beautiful geometrid moth in Upper Lantzville on April 23.  Its genus is Cladara.  There are supposed to be two species in British Columbia, C. limitaria and C. atroliturata, but as far as we can make out the only difference between the two is that limitaria occurs on Vancouver Island and atroliturata doesn’t!  With that caution in mind, we’ll label this one as Cladara limitaria.

Cladara limitaria (Lep.: Geometridae)   Scott Gilmore

April 23

2015 April 23


   Happy St George’s Day, everyone!


   We are having some slight teething problems with the monthly Butterfly Count.  Notwithstanding previous instructions (which I have now corrected on the April 19 and 22 postings), it seems that the safest way to get your Butterfly Count results to Aziza is to log on to the Victoria Natural History Society website:


Look under “Popular Items” on the right hand side, and click on “Butterfly Count”.


Scott Gilmore writes: 

   Here are a couple of interesting finds from Monday (April 20th).  My first grasshopper of the year an Awl-shaped Pygmy Grasshopper (Tetrix subulata) and a very small beetle that I found crawling across my windscreen.  At 2 mm long this native of Australia is rather interesting once you get close enough to make out some details. Cartodere bifasciata 


Awl-shaped Pygmy Grasshopper Tetrix subulata (Orth.: Tetrigidae) Scott Gilmore

Cartodere bifasciata (Col: Latridiidae)  Scott Gilmore