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 30

2016 April 30


    Here is Mike Yip’s geometrid from Cross Road, Nanoose Bay, April 29.  It is Xanthorhoe defensaria.


Xanthorhoe defensaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Mike Yip


   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Bill Savale and I went to the Kinsol Trestle today, hoping to find Western Tailed Blues.  No luck – the Lathyrus that they depend on were not yet in flower. Besides Western Spring Azures and Cabbage Whites, we saw a Red Admiral and a Two-banded Grizzled Skipper.  Jeremy adds that at 6:00 p.m. this evening there were a Red Admiral and a California Tortoiseshell on the Mount Tolmie reservoir.


   Annie Pang sends a picture of a Two-spotted Ladybird.


Two-spotted Ladybird Adalia bipunctata  (Col.: Coccinellidae)  Annie Pang


   Rosemary Jorna writes: I’ll bet this Ladybird Beetle found on the spit at Witty’s Lagoon, April 30 2016, is Harmonia axyridis.  Jeremy Tatum responds: With that big black W on its thorax, so do I!



Harmonia axyridis (Col.: Coccinellidae)  Rosemary Jorna


   Rosemary continues:  This little bug that appeared on the lens of my camera at Witty’s Lagoon, April 30 2016, was tentatively identified as a spittle bug nymph by the naturalists at Metchosin’s Biodiversity Day.  [Yes – I’ll go along with that – Jeremy.]  She also sends a photograph of a bee from the same area.

 Spittlebug nymph, possibly Philaenus spumarius (Hem.: Aphrophoridae)

Rosemary Jorna


Honey Bee Apis mellifera (Hym.: Apidae)  Rosemary Jorna.


   Mike Yip writes from Nanoose Bay:  It really felt like butterfly weather this morning so I decided to check out the Sundew Main logging road. As usual, Western Spring Azures were abundant, and commas continued to be non-existent. [I still haven’t seen a Satyr Comma! – Jeremy]  Species available were a pair of first-of-year Mylitta Crescents, 5 Pale Tiger Swallowtails, 1 Sara Orangetip, 2 Western Brown Elfins, 4 Grey Hairstreaks, 5 Two-banded Grizzled Skippers, and 1 Cabbage White.  A late afternoon walk at the Cross Road trail was relatively quiet with only a few Western Spring Azures, 3 Western Brown Elfins, one Western Tailed Blue, and one Mourning Cloak. The Western Tailed Blue had better tails than the previous one I sent you.


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


Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Mike Yip

 Grey Hairstreak Strymon melinus (Lep.: Lycaenidae)  Mike Yip

Male Mylitta Crescent Phyciodes mylitta (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Mike Yip


Western Spring Azures Celastrina echo (Lep.: Lycaenidae)  Mike Yip

April 29

2016 April 29


   Ken Vaughan sends a stunning picture of a snakefly from his patio table.  He told me that in North America, apart from Texas, they don’t occur east of the Rockies.  I had not realized that.


Female Stigmatic Snakefly Negha inflata (Rap.: Inocellidae)  Ken Vaughan


Jeremy Tatum sends a picture of a caterpillar of a snout moth from a nettle at Swan Lake yesterday.  We can tell that it is a snout moth (genus Hypena) because it has only three pairs of mid-abdominal prolegs.  This caterpillar is in its penultimate instar, and we can tell from the structure of its head capsule that it is very shortly going to undergo its final ecdysis (skin change).  The adult emerged on May 15 (see posting on that date) and enabled us to identify the moth as Hypena californica.


 Snout moth Hypena californica (Lep.: Erebidae – Hypeninae)   Jeremy Tatum



Rosemary Jorna sends a picture of a Satyr Comma from Witty’s Lagoon, April 28.  Jeremy Tatum remarks:  I still haven’t seen one of these yet this year!


Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Rosemary Jorna



Annie Pang sends pictures of a crane fly, and also the tent made by young caterpillars of Malacosoma californicum.


Female crane fly. Probably Tipula paludosa (Dip.: Tipulidae)  Annie Pang

Malacosoma californicum (Lep.: Lasiocampiae)  Annie Pang

   Gordon Hart photographed the tiny reddish-brown geometrid moth at Munn Road on April 27.  Viewers are asked to keep a look out for his little moth and watch to see if you can catch it ovipositing.  It is Leptostales rubromarginaria;  its caterpillar and larval foodplant are apparently unknown, so here’s your chance to make your mark on science!


Leptostales rubromarginaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Gordon Hart


Mike Yip writes from Nanoose Bay:  My routine Cross Road trail walk today (April 29) yielded 15 Western Brown Elfins, 2 Western Pine Elfins, 3 Grey Hairstreaks, 1 Mourning Cloak, several Western Tailed Blues, several Western Spring Azures including one engaged couple, 1 first-of-year Pale Tiger Swallowtail,  2 first-of-year Two-banded Grizzled Skippers, a moth and a bee fly.


[Jeremy Tatum writes:  Here are two of Mike’s butterfly photographs, and the bee fly.  The moth, a geometrid, will have to wait until tomorrow while we try to identify it!]




Western Spring Azures Celastrina echo (Lep.: Lycaenidae)   Mike Yip

 Two-banded Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus ruralis (Lep.: Hesperiidae)  Mike Yip

Bee fly Bombylius major (Dip.: Bombyliidae)  Mike Yip


April 28

2016 April 28




Hi, Butterfly watchers,

The second butterfly walk of 2016 is this Sunday, May 1. The weather looks as though it will be fine, so we should have a good showing of butterflies.

We meet at the top of Mount Tolmie in the parking lot by the reservoir at 1 p.m. After a quick look around the summit, we will decide on a destination at that time.

As always, the walk is weather-dependent, so if the weather forecast is wrong and it is cold or rainy, the walk will be cancelled.

Thanks also to everyone who participated in April’s butterfly count. See the VNHS Invertalert for April 27 (yesterday!) for details and a comparison with 2015’s count. The May count will start May 21.


Gordon Hart


   Annie Pang sends a photograph of a greenbottle fly from Gorge Park.  This fly belongs to the large genus Lucilia.  We can’t be certain of the species, but the commonest and most widespread and therefore the most likely is Lucilia sericata.  The separated eyes show that this is a female.

Greenbottle Lucilia (probably sericata) (Dip.:  Calliphoridae)  Annie Pang

Annie also sends a picture of a bee from Gorge Park.  We are very much in need of someone who can identify Hymenoptera for us!



Mason bee Osmia sp. (Hym.: Megachilidae)   Annie Pang

   Libby Avis writes from Port Alberni:  Here’s a moth that we don’t get here very often – Lithophane dilatocula. Only the third one I’ve seen. Photo taken in Port Alberni on April 27th.


Lithophane dilatocula (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Libby Avis

Gordon Hart writes:  I dropped by the Munn Road power lines today, Wednesday April 27. I saw about a dozen Western Spring Azures, a Sara Orangetip, and at least three Propertius Duskywings. Two were by the mud near the pond, and one or two near the gate. There was also a Western Forktail Damselfly.


Propertius Duskywing Erynnis propertius (Lep.: Hesperiidae)  Gordon Hart

Western Forktail Ischnura perparva (Odo.:  Coenagrionidae)  Gordon Hart

Jeremy Tatum writes:  Here a small moth, from near Blenkinsop Lake today:



Euceratia securella (Lep.: Plutellidae)  Jeremy Tatum


And here’s a large moth, from Livesay Road, Central Saanich, also today:


Cerisy’s Eyed Hawk Moth Smerinthus cerisyi (Lep.: Sphingidae)  Jeremy Tatum


Also found at Livesey Road, this egg:



Triphosa haesitata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jeremy Tatum


Lastly, for today, a nice close-up of a familiar insect, a Cabbage White, sent by John Costello.


Cabbage White Pieris rapae (Lep.: Pieridae) John Costello


April 27

2016 April 27


   While full details of all the year’s monthly Butterfly Counts are published in the following year’s March/April issue of Victoria Naturalist, Gordon Hart has kindly supplied us with the figures for this year’s April count – and last’s year’s, for comparison.

Gordon thanks all who participated.



19 species Apr/2016 Apr/2015  Difference  
AniseSwallowtail 1 0 1  
Western Brown Elfin 19 9 10  
CabbageButterfly 188 69 119  
CaliforniaTortoiseshell 4 4 0  
CedarHairstreak 6 1 5  
GreenComma 4 1 3  
GreyHairstreak 6 5 1  
MossElfin 4 3 1  
MourningCloak 9 8 1  
PaintedLady 4 10 -6  
PaleSwallowtail 4 0 4  
PropertiusDuskywing 7 25 -18  
RedAdmiral 6 0 6  
SaraOrangeTip 53 72 -19  
SatyrComma 4 4 0  
SpringAzure 322 189 133  
TwoBanded Grizzled (Checkered) Skipper 2 0 2  
WesternPineElfin 3 0 3  
WesternTigerSwallowtail 2 0 2  
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell 0 1 -1  
totals 648 401 247  
Number of observers 18 14    
Number of reports 47 19    



   Gordon sends a photograph of a very bright and fresh-looking male Western Spring Azure.


Western Spring Azure Celastrina echo (Lep.: Lycaenidae)  Gordon Hart




   Scott Gilmore’s recent comment about the great variability of the Multicoloured Asian Ladybird inspired Rosemary Jorna to take a series of photographs to illustrate just how variable this beetle can be.  We apologize that the first is slightly blurred, but we thought it was worth including in the series to illustrate one variation.  The second one is rather orangey in colour, and this might be (or might not!) because it has only recently ecloded from its pupal state and hasn’t yet hardened and reached its final colour.  However, great though the variability of the Multicoloured Asian Ladybird is, it turns out that two of Rosemary’s ladybirds are in fact a different species – the Seven-spotted Ladybird.  We are grateful to Scott Gilmore for the identifications.



Harmonia axyridis (Col.: Coccinellidae)

 Rosemary Jorna


Harmonia axyridis (Col.: Coccinellidae)

 Rosemary Jorna





Harmonia axyridis (Col.: Coccinellidae)

 Rosemary Jorna



Harmonia axyridis (Col.: Coccinellidae)

 Rosemary Jorna


Coccinella septempunctata (Col.: Coccinellidae)

Rosemary Jorna

Coccinella septempunctata (Col.: Coccinellidae)

Rosemary Jorna



   Jeremy Tatum photographed the Brown Woodling moth shown below near the Swan Lake nature house today (April 27).  He saw (but, alas, did not photograph) a Mourning Cloak in flight nearby.



Egira perlubens (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jeremy Tatum

April 26


2016 April 26


   Gerry and Wendy Ansell write that there was a Propertius Duskywing in a Garry Oak meadow on Mount Tolmie this afternoon (Tues. Apr. 26) – their first for the year.


   Gordon Hart, in response to my query re Satyr Commas, writes:  I have not yet seen a Satyr Comma this year either. There were four reported during the April count period, all from Prospect Lake Road west into the Highlands and Colwood. In our yard I have only seen Green Commas and have been able to see them all closely and photograph them so I am pretty sure they have all been P. faunus.  Meanwhile, Gordon continues: Today in our yard in the Highlands District, I saw my first of the year Two-banded Grizzled Skipper, two Cedar Hairstreaks, a Sara Orangetip, one Green Comma, and several Western Spring Azures.



Female Sara Orangetip Anthocharis sara (Lep.: Pieridae)  Gordon Hart

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

Cedar Hairstreak Mitoura rosneri (Lep.: Lycaenidae) Gordon Hart


Mike Yip writes from Nanoose Bay: It’s always a challenge to find a Western Spring Azure with its wings open, but a female obliged right at my feet this afternoon. Even more difficult is the dorsal view of the Western Pine Elfin or any of our elfins for that matter. I still haven’t seen one with its wings open, but I got a hint of what it might look like in the attached shot.


Female Western Spring Azure Celastrina echo (Lep.: Lycaenidae)  Mike Yip

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


Jeremy Tatum writes: I thought I’d try my hand a photographing a spider, so I photographed this one at Swan Lake today (April 26).  Thanks to Robb Bennett, who writes: A long-jawed orbweaver, Family Tetragnathidae.  This one is almost certainly Tetragnatha versicolor.  Tetragnathids are often hugely abundant, anywhere that is even remotely damp, but especially on the margins of streams, ponds, and lakes, or in wet meadows.


Tetragnatha versicolor (Ara.: Tetragnathidae)  Jeremy Tatum


Nathan Fisk sends a photograph of eggs of a ladybird beetle from Island View Beach, April 25, low down of the stem of a Contorted-pod Evening Primrose Camissonia contorta.  Nathan asks: Why would it choose this location to lay? Mysteries abound!


Ladybird beetle eggs (Col.: Coccinellidae)   Nathan Fisk