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 8

2019 October 8

Jochen Möhr writes from Metchosin:


2 Ceranemota fasciata

2 Tetracis jubararia/pallulata


No pics taken.



   Today, being rather a quiet day for invertebrate reports, there is time for a random musing.


   What is the difference between a butterfly and a moth?  An FAQ, to which there is no very simple answer.  The question presupposes that the Order Lepidoptera is divided into two great Suborders,  Butterflies and Moths, but this is not at all the case.  There are five or six Suborders, each divided into numerous Families, and we choose, at least in the English language, to call a few of these Families in one of the Suborders “butterflies”.  I don’t know if many other languages do this.  For example, I believe that papillon, farfalla, mariposa, Schmetterling all refer to butterflies or moths in various European languages, which I’ll leave for viewers to identify – a single word doing for both.

I am lucky to have a copy of the excellent book, by Louis Handfield, called “Les Papillons du Québec”, which means, in English:  “Butterflies and Moths of the Province of Quebec”.  (You spotted where it says “the Province of”?). 


  Butterflies are brightly coloured; moths are dull grey and brown.  Butterflies fly by day, moths by night. Butterflies have clubbed antennae, moths don’t.  Butterflies hold their wings vertically at rest; moths hold them horizontally.   Moth caterpillars make cocoons; caterpillars of butterflies don’t. The trouble with these “rules”  (there are others) is that there are numerous exceptions to all of them, to the extent than none of them really works at all. Indeed it has even been said that a butterfly is just a sort of moth.


  I don’t think I can do better than to quote the words of Moses Harris in the 1760s:


   The Horns or Antenna of a Butterfly, hath a Knob, or Ball at the Extremity or End of each, and are for the most part pretty straight. The Antenna of Moths.chiefly diminish gradually, and end in a sharp Point; tho’ indeed some do swell about the Middle, or towards the Point, or End, some are Comb-like and very broad, others appear like fine Thread, and most of them have a winding Motion from the Root to the Extremity; others are notched on the under or inner Side, like the Teeth of a Saw.


  The Tails or Abdomen of Butterflies, commonly lays in a Kind of Groove or Bed, which is form’d by the Underwings, neither do the Tails ever reach below the Edge of the Underwing.  The Tails of Moths in general lie beneath the Underwings, and reach to the Extremity of the Underwings, and many of them a great way beyond.


  A Butterfly always sleeps or rests with its Wings erect over its Back; the Underwings being Broad and without Folds.  The Moth commonly rests with its Wings covering its tail and Underwings; in which Account, Providence has ordered it so, that the Underwings of all Moths, fold themslves up half Way in the Manner of a Fan. A Butterfly always flies in the Day, and mostly in the Morning, but never in the Night.  Moths, some flie in the Day-time, some after Sun sett in the Evening, and others in the Dead of the Night.


   Tho’ I must here observe, that tho’ these are Rules very sufficient whereby you may know a Moth from a Butterfly, yet I well know there is not one of the above Rules, but has an Objection; and altho’ Moths and Butterflies are two quite different Species of Insects, and at the very first Sight each of them confess themselves to a good AURELIAN; Yet I wholly believe ‘tis impossible, by any proposed, to make a Rule to know one by, which some one of the other will not be an Objection to.  The same Difficulties arise in attempting to class either the Moths or the Butterflies, and altho’ several has attempted to do it, yet the many Obstacles they meet within their Way, especially among the Moths, many of which will jar,with the Order and Regularity of their Work, that the Matter is rendered extreamly Difficult; these however, they squeezed into some Place or other; for you know they must be put some-where; so at last the Work is rendered Imperfect; but to return to the Matter in Hand.


   I shall further observe, that when a Moth in any part of its Investure is seen to close with a Butterfly, viz.either in the Horns, Shape of the Wings, &c, it shall differ in any other Particular, and that so notoriously, that you may always be able to know which of the two it is.  Thus the great Magpie in the Form of its Wings much resembles a Butterfly; but its Horns or Antenna, are like crooked threads; the Head remarkably small…


…Mr Wilks…I think he says, Flies resembling partly Moths and partly Butterflies; here he produces but one single Instance, which to me is no Instance at all of any such strange Being; nor would I have taken the Liberty to have mention’d it in this Work, had I not been fearful young AURELIANS might have been led astray by the Novelty of the Thought, and perhaps in Process of Time, have added a great number of other Moths and Butterflies into a Species of Insects, never before heard of, at least in this Part of the World.  The Fly he speaks of is the Burnet, the Horns or Antenna of which swell…


     Time to return to our century!  A few days ago Cheryl Hoyle photographed a beetle, which Charlene Wood has kindly identified to genus for us. Charlene writes:  It’s a curculionid, subfamily Entiminae (broad-nosed weevils), genus Sitona.  


Broad-nosed weevil Sitona sp. (Col.: Curculionidae – Entiminae)  Cheryl Hoyle

October 7

2019 October 7


   Some of Jochen Möhr’s moths from Metchosin yesterday, identified by Libby Avis.


Ceranemota fasciata (Lep.: Drepanidae – Thysanurinae) Jochen Möhr

Ceranemota fasciata (Lep.: Drepanidae – Thysanurinae) Jochen Möhr


Agrotis ipsilon (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr

Agrotis ipsilon (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jochen Möhr

 Tetracis jubararia/pallulata (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr

…and some from this morning:


Tetracis jubararia/pallulata (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr


Ceranemota fasciata (Lep.: Drepanidae – Thysanurinae) Jochen Möhr


On October 5, Jochen photographed the harvestman below, which is not the ubiquitous Phalangium opilio.  Dr Philip Bragg of UBC writes:  It is difficult to be completely sure about this identification since I cannot see some of the diagnostic features I would have liked to have seen, e.g . is the palpal claw toothed? However, I think it likely that this harvestman is Nelima paessleri.


So, photographers, next time you snap a harvestman, be sure to get a close-up of the palps!  And, by the way, did you know that the second pair of legs of most harvestmen is the longest?  Well, ye ken noo.


Probably Nelima paessleri (Opi.:  Sclerosomatidae) Jochen Möhr

Probably Nelima paessleri (Opi.:  Sclerosomatidae) Jochen Möhr




October 6

2019 October 6

Jeremy Tatum sends a photograph of Tetracis jubararia (guaranteed!).


Tetracis jubararia (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jeremy Tatum

   Here’s a difficult tortricid from Jochen Möhr in Metchosin.  Probably a species of Acleris.Possibly (but not certain), Acleris britannia.


Possibly Acleris britannia (Lep.: Tortricidae)

Jochen Möhr

   Now, a stink bug and two spiders from Cheryl Hoyle:


Probably Chlorochroa ligata (Hem.: Pentatomidae)  Cheryl Hoyle

Araneus diadematus (Ara.: Araneidae)  Cheryl Hoyle

   We haven’t (yet?) been able to identify Cheryl’s second spider other than to say it is a jumping spider (Salticidae) and most likely of the genus Sitticus.


Probably Sitticus sp.  (Ara.: Salticidae)  Cheryl Hoyle

Jeremy Tatum writes: I saw two Cabbage Whites today – one at McIntyre Reservoir, and the other flying over Mackenzie Avenue.  I also saw my first Banded Woolly Bear of the fall, on Dooley Road in Central Saanich.  These caterpillars, when found in  the fall, are not easy to rear, so I let it go upon its way.  They spend the winter moths as a caterpillar.  When found in the spring, they will soon pupate, and are consequently then much easier to rear.


October 5

2019 October 5


Jochen Möhr’s moths from Metchosin this morning:


3 Drepanulatrix sp.

1 Pleromelloida cinerea

1 Tetracis jubararia/pallulata

1 Udea profundalis



Tetracis jubararia/pallulata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


Udea profundalis (Lep.: Crambidae)  Jochen Möhr


   Jeremy Tatum writes: At this time of year, this site is becoming a little less busy, so I may from time to time take the opportunity of musing on random topics.  Today:


    What is a chrysalis, and what its its plural?.  The first part is fairly easy.  A chrysalis is an informal “nontechnical” name used for the pupa of a butterfly.  One sometimes hears talk of a moth chrysalis, but it is probably best to restrict its use to the pupa of a butterfly, and not to use it for a moth pupa.  The word comes from the Greek chrysos = gold and it refers to the gold colour of, or gold spots on, the pupae of some nymphalid butterflies.


  For the plural we have a choice of three spellings, any one of which might be defended as “correct”!

  1. If we accept that “chrysalis” is a perfectly normal English word, I see nothing at all objectionable to forming its plural in the usual English way, and spelling and pronouncing it chrysalises.
  2. On the other hand if we feel that it has not quite reached the status of an English word, and that it still looks a bit “foreign” (i.e. Greek), then we can use the Greek form of the plural, namely chrysalides.  [Analogous words:  iris, irides;  proboscis, proboscides]
  3. The spelling chrysalids for the plural is often seen, and it is the spelling that I usually use.  It is open to the objection that it is not correct in either English or Greek.  In its defence, it may be pointed out that the spelling chrysalids for the plural has been used for hundreds of years (Moses Harris used it in the 1760s), and it has become so usual and so established, that it may be taken as the normal or “correct” spelling.


So, in brief, you can use any of these spellings, and stand on solid ground.  The one thing that is certain, is that there is no word “chrysalid” in singular or plural!

October 4

2019 October 4


   Jochen Möhr’s moths from Metchosin this morning:


2 Drepanulatrix sp.

2 Dryotype opina

1 Lambdina fiscellaria

1 Platyptilia carduidactylus

2 Pleromelloida cinerea

2 Sunira decipiens

3 Tetracis jubararia/pallulata


Sunira decipiens (Lep.: Noctuidae)   Jochen Möhr


Platyptilia carduidactylus (Lep.:  Pterophoridae) Jochen Möhr


Lambdina fiscellaria (Lep.: Geometridae) Jochen Möhr



   Naturalists who are familiar with spreadwing damselflies might keep a look-out in British Columbia for

Archilestes californicus.  This is a new species for Canada.  I have just been notified via Dr Rob Cannings of the discovery of the fourth British Columbia record, in the Osoyoos Desert, by Eckert Cameron.  This is what it looks like:


Archilestes californicus (Odo.: Lestidae)  Eckert Cameron


   Rob describes it as follows:  Archilestes californicus is a very large (4.5-6 cm long) brown spreadwing with a white-striped thorax. The male’s eyes and labrum are blue; the abdomen is brown above with darker areas tinged with green; segs 9-10 are pruinose; the paraprocts are short and parallel, visible from above; the pterostigmas are tan or whitish.

   If anyone thinks he or she sees or has photographed this species in British Columbia, let us know, and I’ll pass it on to Rob if it looks good.  Jeremy Tatum