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.

September 27 morning

2017 September 27 morning


   Rarities Alert!


   Gordon Hart writes: I have enclosed photos of the American Lady that Anne-Marie and I saw at Whiffin Spit yesterday. After seeing the rather drab Lark Sparrow in the parking lot, it was exciting to see several Painted Ladies and then this American Lady in the grassy area part way to the tip where the Meadowlarks are usually found.  

   Later, while viewing the Lark Sparrow again with Cheryl Mackie and Marilyn Lambert, they told us that Avery Bartels, Rocky Point bander, saw a Monarch and a Red Admiral on the morning of September 25. Avery is familiar with Monarchs and was certain of the identification. I suppose if American Ladies can migrate through here occasionally, then Monarchs can as well.


   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Thanks to Gordon and Anne-Marie, I, too, saw the Whiffin Spit American Lady – in the area where there is lots of Gumweed, opposite the washroom, and where the Grasshopper Sparrow was seen a few years ago.  Unlike the slightly worn specimen that is doubtless still at McIntyre reservoir, the Whiffin Spit butterfly was pristine fresh and very obvious.


  Usually we caution that the provenance of Monarchs is always suspect, because of their commercial release at weddings.  However, there is no need to assume that all Monarch sightings pertain to such releases, and we must bear in mind that some of them may be genuine wild butterflies – particularly when seen in areas remote from cities, such as Rocky Point.

American Lady Vanessa virginiensis (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Gordon Hart


American Lady Vanessa virginiensis (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Gordon Hart



   And here’s a not-quite-so-rare butterfly from Jeremy Tatum’s Saanich apartment this morning.


Cabbage White Pieris rapae (Lep.: Pieridae)  Jeremy Tatum


   Annie Pang is rearing a Spotted Tiger Moth caterpillar (see September 16), which has now spun a wonderful cocoon:


Spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa maculata (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae) Annie Pang



September 26

2017 September 26


Jochen Moehr reports seeing a Tolype distincta at his Metchosin house on September 24.  [For the purposes of this site, we are treating T. distincta and T. dayi as conspecific under the name T. distincta.  Jeremy Tatum].


Today, September 26, Jochen’s morning crop was a Noctua pronuba, a Neoalcis californiaria,  and an unknown noctuid, which Libby Avis kindly identified for us as Lithophane baileyi.  Jochen sends photographs of the last two.


Neoalcis californiaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Moehr


Lithophane baileyi (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Moehr



Jochen also had a look on his kale plants, and found a caterpillar of a Cabbage White:


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


September 25

2017 September 25


   Aziza Cooper writes:  Yesterday, Sunday, September 24, I saw four Painted Ladies at the tip of Whiffin Spit. The photo shows one on a log flattened down against the cold wind of the ocean. Two other observers saw at least four other Ladies in the grassy area at mid-spit. It certainly is a good year for Painted Ladies.  [It is indeed – though occasionally in past years we have had truly massive invasions, with caterpillars in almost every thistle patch.  Jeremy].


Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Aziza Cooper

    Following my appeal yesterday for photographs of one of the paler sulphurs, Val George writes:  Here is a (not very good) photo of one of the pale sulphurs at McIntyre Reservoir that I took a few days before our butterfly walk.  I wondered then whether it could be a Clouded Sulphur.  However, I concluded that it probably wasn’t possible from this photo to tell the species with certainty.  What do you think?


Jeremy Tatum writes: I think I have to agree with Val.  It is tempting to say that it is a Clouded Sulphur, but honesty compels me to say that I cannot be certain.  Is it a male or a female?  (Can’t quite see whether the terminal band contains yellow spots.)  I don’t see any sign of orange. What about the dark ST spots on the fw und?  (That’s jargon for subterminal spots on the forewing underside.)  The one spot is fairly well defined (therefore probably Orange Sulphur) but there is only one of them (therefore probably Clouded Sulphur).  So we remain tantalized!  More photos needed.  We’ll figure it out eventually!

Sulphur Colias sp. (Lep.: Pieridae)  Val George.




September 24

2017 September 24


   Jeremy Tatum writes:   And I thought the butterfly season was over!  Not a bit of it!   Bill Savale and I went to McIntyre Reservoir today and we saw six species there.  Several Cabbage Whites, of course.  A male and a female Purplish Copper in perfect brand-new condition.   A pristine fresh Painted Lady, and a not-so-fresh American Lady.  (The latter is a real rarity in our area, and even in British Columbia.)  Two sulphurs.  One was a deep rich orange and was clearly an Orange Sulphur. The other was a much paler yellow, similar to the few of that colour that we saw on the VNHS September Butterfly Walk.  I am pretty well convinced now that these are Clouded Sulphurs.  I had a good look at one of them.  It was a male (no yellow spots within the terminal band).  That rules out the possibility that it was a female Orange Sulphur, and also rules out the possibility that it was a white (helice) form of a female of any sulphur.  The width of the black terminal band appeared to be obviously narrow compared with that of an Orange Sulphur.  While I am pretty-well convinced that it was a Clouded Sulphur, it would still be of great interest if someone could obtain (or if someone already has obtained) a photograph of one of these paler sulphurs.  One feature of interest to look at would be the row of dark subterminal spots on the underside of the forewing.  It is a pity that we cannot investigate the large alfalfa patches in the Forbidden Field.  There might even be caterpillars there.


September 23

2017 September 23


   Jeremy Tatum writes:  I visited McIntyre Reservoir today in hopes of seeing an American Lady.  No such luck, and unfortunately most of the Teasels are now past flowering.  There are a very few Teasels left, and lots of other flowers, so it is still worth a look to find Painted or American Ladies.


I did see from one to three (not sure which) Orange Sulphurs.  The one I had a good look at was obviously a female (yellow spots inside the broad terminal band), and it was every bit as deep orange as a male Orange Sulphur.  This makes me think again quite seriously about those paler sulphurs seen during the VNHS September Butterfly Walk.  I may have too hastily dismissed them as female Orange Sulphurs, and I now wonder if in fact they may have been Clouded Sulphurs.  I don’t think they were the form helice that occurs in many female sulphur species, because forma helice is almost as white as a Cabbage White.  If anyone has photos of these paler sulphurs from the VNHS Butterfly Walk, we would be very interested to see them.


There were still lots of Cabbage Whites at McIntyre reservoir.


Rosemary Jorna writes from Kemp Lake Road:  I do not know if this spider lived in our house or came in with me as I had been working in the yard. We I came in for coffee and I settled down on the couch.   After a few minutes it ran down my arm and ended up on our deck for photos before a quick trip out back to a new home.

Robb Bennett writes:

It could be a female of Steatoda grossa but my first guess would be Steatoda albomaculata.  Steatoda grossa females are usually mostly dark brown but they often have some amount of pale patterning. Males of grossa are patterned and this is likely the same scenario as in Latrodectus (same family – Theridiidae) where the adult males retain juvenile patterning and some females do, too, especially subadults.


Steatoda sp.(Ara.: Theridiidae)  Rosemary Jorna


Bill Savale found some tiny beetles in a long-dried specimen of a fungus that he had had for some years.  Many thanks to Charlene Wood for identifying them and photographing them. They are at most 1.5 mm in length.  Have a look on a ruler to remind yourself of what a millimetre looks like to appreciate Charlene’s skill in getting the photograph.


Hadraule blaisdelli (Col.:  Ciidae)  Charlene Wood


Jeremy Tatum writes:  The Pheosia rimosa caterpillar shown on September 20 has now grown a lot and has changed colour:


Pheosia rimosa (Lep.: Notodontidae)  Jeremy Tatum