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.

October 1

2017 October 1


   Jochen Moehr sends a photograph of a pretty little (“pulchella”) moth from Metchosin.


Agrochola pulchella (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Moehr



   Jochen also sends photographs of two parasitoidal ichneumonid wasps.  There are thousands of species of ichneumonids, and identifying them is a bit of a problem.  Beyond saying that the first of Jochen’s photographs below might be Ophion luteus (or it might not!), I think I’ll play it safe and label both of them merely Ichneumonidae.


Ichneumonid wasp (Hym.: Ichneumonidae) Jochen Moehr


Ichneumonid wasp (Hym.: Ichneumonidae) Jochen Moehr



   Looking my kale over this morning, Jochen continues. I found another P. rapae caterpillar. It was less than 1 cm in length, so I think it is at most second instar. 

Cabbage White Pieris rapae (Lep.: Pieridae)  Jochen Moehr


   The VNHS Monthly Butterfly Walk took place today.  Seven brave members, who I think must belong also to the Optimists’ Club, turned up expecting to find butterflies on a partly cloudy day in October – and they did so!  We went to McIntyre reservoir in Central Saanich.  For about half-an-hour it was cloudy, with never a butterfly in sight.  Then the sun came out and almost immediately Cabbage Whites started to appear.  There must have been about two dozen in all.  Alas, no sulphurs or ladies, but there were other things to see. Thus we saw several of the migratory day-flying moth Autographa californica. And on the broccoli plants in the next field we found three cocoons with living pupae inside of A. californica’s close relative, Trichoplusia ni.  Also seen was an adult Large Yellow Underwing Moth Noctua pronuba, and a Banded Woolly Bear, caterpillar of the Isabella Moth.  October is the month for Banded Woolly Bears, so we should be seeing more of them in the next few weeks.  They are often common at Panama Flats.

Cocoon and pupa of Ni Moth Trichoplusia ni (Noctuidae – Plusiinae) Val George


Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba (Lep.: Noctuidae – Noctuinae) Val George



September 30

2017 September 30


   Jochen Moehr sends a photograph of  Ennomos magnaria from Metchosin.

Ennomos magnaria (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Moehr


September 29

2017 September 29


Reminder:  Please send images as attachments in .jpg format.



   Jochen Moehr has set us a puzzling problem with the moth below, from Metchosin.  Compare it with his similar moth on September 18.  We are dealing with two similar species (if they are indeed separate species!), Tetracis pallulata and Tetracis jubararia.  Libby Avis writes that Jochen’s September 18 moth is Tetracis pallulata, whereas today’s moth is probably Tetracis jubararia, and Jeremy Tatum agrees.


Probably Tetracis jubararia (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Moehr September 29


Jochen sends a photograph of a noctuid moth, which Libby has kindly identified for us as Fishea discors.


Fishea discors (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Moehr


Val George sends photographs of upperside and underside views of a fresh American Lady at McIntyre Reservoir yesterday afternoon, Sept 28.


Notice that the largest of the white patches near the apex is pointed – it is blunt in our other two ladies.  This patch can be white or orange – which can be useful in distinguishing between individuals.  For example, it is orange in Mike McGrenere’s September 16 photograph, confirming that there is, or has been, more than one individual at McIntyre reservoir.   The freshness of Val’s specimen is also an indication that there is more than one individual – other observers have reported seeing slightly worn specimens.


John Acorn, in his book on British Columbia butterflies, implies that this species, at one time called Hunter’s Butterfly, is somehow connected with hunters and hunting.  Its scientific name at one time was Vanessa huntera.  I haven’t been able to find the origin of this name, but I suspect that it was more likely named after someone whose name was Hunter, and it has no particular connection with hunting.


American Lady Vanessa virginiensis (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Val George

American Lady Vanessa virginiensis (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Val George

   Shortly after I wrote the above, we received two photographs from Mark Wynja of an American Lady at McIntyre reservoir.  While its patch is white, like Val’s, it is clearly a more worn specimen than Val’s pristine one, and so I think we can be sure that Mike’s, Mark’s and Val’s photographs are all of distinct individuals.

American Lady Vanessa virginiensis (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Mark Wynja

American Lady Vanessa virginiensis (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Mark Wynja

   By the way, Jeremy writes, I have heard all sorts of (completely wrong!) names applied to these prickly flowers that are so attractive to butterflies at McIntyre reservoir.  The plant is Teasel Dipsacus fullonum.  It is not a thistle.

  Mark tells us that Guy Monty took a photo of an American Lady on Little Mountain in Errington, near Parksville, on the same day, September 27.


Mike and Barb McGrenere write:  In case you are interested [Yes, I am – always! Jeremy],  we visited Mount Washington today and saw about three Green Commas (we believe) at Paradise Meadows.


Jeremy responds:  Commas are difficult, particularly at Mount Washington, where several species may be expected, but I agree that these are Green Commas.  If anyone feels that we may be mistaken, please let us know.


Green Comma Polygonia faunus (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Mike McGrenere

Green Comma Polygonia faunus (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Mike McGrenere

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Here is another Ni Moth reared from a caterpillar found in the Brussels sprouts fields next to McIntyre reservoir.   This one was photographed in natural daylight, and the colour rendering is better than the one shown yesterday.


Ni Moth Trichoplusia ni (Lep.: Noctuidae – Plusiinae)  Jeremy Tatum


September 28 morning

2017 September 28 morning


   Jochen Moehr sends photographs from Metchosin of a Robber Fly, which he describes as being as aesthetically pleasing as an Apache attack helicopter.  Rob Cannings writes: This is a male Laphria asturina or L. fernaldi. These two are very difficult to tell apart and I’m not convinced yet that they are distinct species.

Robber fly Laphria asturina/fernaldi (Dip.: Asilidae)   Jochen Moehr


Robber fly Laphria asturina/fernaldi (Dip.: Asilidae)   Jochen Moehr



   Jeremy Tatum found a small (6 mm) beetle on the windshield of his car when he was parked near McIntyre reservoir yesterday.  Charlene Wood writes:  It looks like a Sitona sp. broad-nosed weevil (Curculionidae: Entiminae), which includes many non-native pests of clover, pea, etc. Looks most like a clover weevil, Sitona hispidulus, which is an introduced species from Eurasia, but there are a few other possible species.


Sitona sp (probably hispidulus) (Col.: Curculionidae – Entiminae)  Jeremy Tatum



   Jeremy Tatum writes:  The caterpillar of a Ni Moth shown on September 11 produced the moth shown below.  The moth emerged in the middle of last night, so I had to try to photograph it in artificial light when I was half asleep. Then I drove out to the Martindale area to release it there.  When I got back, a second moth had emerged, and I had to start all over again.  The second moth was from the caterpillar shown on August 28, 30, September 2,7,11.  I believe it is Zale lunata.


Ni Moth Trichoplusia ni (Lep.: Noctuidae – Plusiinae) Jeremy Tatum




Zale lunata (Lep.: Erebidae – Erebinae)  Jeremy Tatum



   Aziza Cooper sends a photograph of a Purplish Copper from Saanichton (Cordova) Spit.


Purplish Copper Lycaena helloides (Lep.: Lycaenidae)  Aziza Cooper


    Jeremy Tatum writes: At press time no word from yesterday’s observations at McIntyre reservoir, but I can tell you that there were several Cabbage Whites, one Orange Sulphur (deep orange, no problem with identity), several Painted Ladies, at least one (could be more) American Lady, a probable Purplish Copper, and several Autographa californica.  So it is well worth a visit there on this, the last day before the rains begin.  Also a report of a Red Admiral from Whiffin Spit.

September 27 evening

2017 September 27


   Here are three geometrid moths from Jochen Moehr’s Metchosin home this morning:


Neoalcis californiaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Moehr




Xanthorhoe defensaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Moehr




Eupithecia graefii (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Moehr




   At least five butterfly-ers visited McIntyre reservoir today.  We’ll write about what they saw in tomorrow’s posting.  In the meantime, in case you are wondering whether it is worth visiting McIntyre reservoir tomorrow (Thursday), which might be the last day before the onset of the rainy season, the answer is definitely yes.  There are still sulphurs and ladies there, though you might have to wait ten or fifteen minutes before you spot one.