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 19

2020 March 19

   Welcome to Spring!  The Sun crosses the equator from south to north at 8:49 pm PDT this evening. Appropriately, there were a number of butterfly sightings yesterday:

 

  Val George writes:  I  saw my first butterflies of the season yesterday afternoon, March 18:  Two California Tortoiseshells at the summit of Mount Tolmie, one on the reservoir, the other by the Jeffery Pine.   They were definitely two different insects, as the photos show.

 

California Tortoiseshell Nymphalis californica (Lep.: Nymphalidae)   Val George

 

California Tortoiseshell Nymphalis californica (Lep.: Nymphalidae)   Val George

 

   Jochen Möhr writes from Metchison:  When I came home yesterday, there was a Satyr Comma enjoying the the warm gravel on our driveway. 

Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus (Lep.: Nymphalidae)   Jochen Möhr

 

    Gordon Hart wrote yesterday  March 18 from Highlands:  We had a Mourning Cloak fly by and stop briefly. Unfortunately, my camera was in the house, so I was unable to get a photo. That makes three species of butterfly in 2020, and no pictures of any of them!  I did see lots of bees and moths as well. I have attached a picture of Epirrhoe plebeculata.

 

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  I have been trying to find the caterpillar of E.  plebeculata for years.  If anyone sees this moth (common in March and April) please keep a lookout for oviposition!

 


Epirrhoe plebeculata (Lep.: Geometridae)   Gordon Hart

 

   Jochen Möhr continues with his amazing run of moths at his Metchosin home.  Thus, this morning:

 

1 Acerra normalis

Eupithecias (including one probably ravocostaliata)

17 Hydriomena manzanita

1 Lithophane innominata

1 Lithophane pertorrida

Orthosia praeses 

1 Triphosa haesitata 

Venusia obsoleta / pearsalli

2 unidentified micros

 

   Spurred on by this, writes Jeremy Tatum, I went to the Goldstream Park Nature House this morning, but, although the lights were on, the only moths were three Eupithecia and one Venusia.  Then I went to the Swan Lake Nature House.  The lights were on, but there were no moths at all.  Both Nature Houses are closed, because of the corona virus outbreak.   The moths are presumably paying attention.

 

  Here is a sample of some of Jochen’s moths this morning.

 


Acerra normalis (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Möhr

 


Acerra normalis (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Möhr

 


Lithophane pertorrida (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr

 


Eupithecia nevadata/ravocostaliata  (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

 

 

   The next one, we think, is a slightly worn Lithophane, but we can’t be absolutely certain whether it is L. innominata or L. petulca.

 


Lithophane innominata/petulca (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr


Orthosia praeses (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Möhr


Venusia obsoleta/pearsalli  (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

 

Hypena californica (Erebidae – Hypeninae) Jochen Möhr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 18

2020 March 18

 

    Jochen Möhr writes that the abundance of moths at his Metchosin home continues.  Thus this morning:

 

21 Eupithecias (among them some new ones, probably not annulata)

17 Hydriomena manzanita

1 Lithophane petulca

3 Orthosia praeses 

3 Triphosa haesitata 

3 Venusia obsoleta / pearsalli

 

   Here is a selection of photographs:

 


Lithophane petulca (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Möhr

(Larval foodplant Alder – and probably other caterpillars!)


Orthosia praeses (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr

(Aslo Alder, but I think it is an innocent vegetarian)

 


Orthosia praeses (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr

This nice orange ruff on the front of the thorax is an aid to its identification.

 

American Tissue Moth Triphosa haesitata (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

The foodplant is restricted to Frangula.  The adult moth hibernates – sometimes in numbers in caves.

 

 

The pugs are a large genus, many of which are challenging to identify.  This one is probably one of the difficult pair Eupithecia annulata/oleracea, both of which feed on conifers.


Eupithecia annulata/oleracea (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

 

  This next pug, a fairly large one, is boldly marked, and, one would hope, easy to identify.  Alas, it is one of two look-alikes, E. ravocostaliata and E. nevadata.  The mid-costal dark patch is supposed to be triangular (like this one) on nevadata and rectangular on ravocostaliata – but who knows?  I haven’t reared either, writes Jeremy Tatum, but the caterpillar of ravocostaliata has been found on Salix.

Pronunciation:   RAY-vo costallyAHta.

 


Eupithecia nevadata/ravocostaliata (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

 

   The pugs are not the only small geometrids that are hard to identifiy.  The two waves Venusia obsoleta and V. pearsalli are a difficult pair.

 


Venusia obsoleta/pearsalli (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

 

 

 

 

March 17 evening

2020 March 17 evening

 

   Kalene Lillico photographed this Satyr Comma butterfly at Swan Lake Nature House yesterday.  We leave it to viewers to decide if it is the same individual as – or a different one from –  the one that Kirsten Mills photographed there on the same date.

 

Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Kalene Lillico

 

   Jochen Möhr has been seeing a large variety of moths – macros and micros – at his house in Metchosin in the last few days.  Here is a selection of a few of them.  As often, we are grateful to Libby Avis for her help with identifications.

 


Hydriomena manzanita (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

 

 


Lithophane pertorrida (Lep.:  Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr


Lithophane pertorrida (Lep.:  Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr

 

 


Lithophane innominata (Lep.:  Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr


Venusia obsoleta/pearsalli (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

 

 


Triphosa haesitata (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

March 17 morning

2020 March 17 morning

 

   Kirsten Mills writes:  Jeff Gaskin and I were at Swan Lake yesterday, March 16, at around 2pm. We had a Mourning Cloak fly by. Then we had a Satyr Comma land near the nature house. Here are some Comma photos. We couldn’t photograph the Mourning Cloak.

 

Satyr Comma  Polygonia satyrus (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Kirsten Mills

Satyr Comma  Polygonia satyrus (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Kirsten Mills

   Jeremy Tatum sends a photograph of a Venusia obsoleta/pearsalli from UVic’s Elliott Building this morning:

 


Venusia obsoleta/pearsalli   (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jeremy Tatum

   Jochen Möhr sends a picture of a cerambycid beetle from Metchosin, identified by Libby Avis as Plectrura spinicauda.

 


Plectrura spinicauda (Col.: Cerambycidae)  Jochen Möhr

 

March 13 morning

2020 March 13 morning

 

   Mr E writes from Saanich, March 12, that this Spotted Tree Borer Synaphaeta guexi “flew onto my shirt inside the house while I was cooking”.

 

Spotted Tree Borer Synaphaeta guexi (Col.: Cerambycidae)  Mr E

Spotted Tree Borer Synaphaeta guexi (Col.: Cerambycidae)  Mr E

   Jochen Möhr sends a photograph of Orthosia pulchella from Metchosin, March 12.

 


Orthosia pulchella (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr


Orthosia pulchella (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr