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.

2021 August 15

2021 August 15

 

   Jochen Möhr sends a picture of Neoalcis californiaria from Metchosin.  He mentions that he has seen three Woodland Skippers, but no Pine Whites today.

Neoalcis californiaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr

   Jeff Gaskin writes:  I saw some Vancouver Island Ringlets this afternoon, August15.  There were 7 at Viaduct flats by Markham Road and 7 on Camosun College lands by Markham Road also.

2021 August 14

2021 August 14

 

   Jochen Möhr reports four species of moth, a long-horned beetle, and a spittle bug from his Metchosin home this morning.  We are grateful to Libby Avis for identifying the beetle and the bug.

1 Eulithis xylina

4 Ochlodes sylvanoides

1 Tolype distincta

1 Udea profundalis

Etorofus obliteratus

Philaenus spumarius

 

Udea profundalis (Lep.: Crambidae)  Jochen Möhr

 

Etorofus obliteratus (Col.: Cerambycidae)  Jochen Möhr

 

Meadow Spittle Bug Philaenus spumarius  (Hem.: Aphrophoridae) Jochen Möhr

2021 August 13

2021 August 13

    Ron Flower reports that on Tuesday August 10 a (the?) Anise Swallowtail was at the McIntyre reservoir in Central Saanich.  [Jeremy Tatum writes:  My apologies for not posting this earlier!]

   And Jeff Gaskin reports that this morning, August 13, there was a Mourning Cloak in the central meadow, south of the central dyke at Panama Flats.

   Here are two moths from Jochen Möhr’s Metchosin home this morning:

 

Neoalcis californiaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr

 

Tolype distincta (Lep.: Lasiocampidae)  Jochen Möhr

2021 August 12

2021 August 12

 

   Here’s a caterpillar found by Andrew Jacobs at Pedder Bay on August 9 

 

Nadata gibbosa (Lep.: Notodontidae) Andrew Jacobs

   Jochen Möhr sends this photograph of a moth from Metchosin:

 

Probably Mesapamea secalis (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Möhr

   Val George writes:  Here are two photos of a Black Saddlebags taken at McIntyre Reservoir yesterday morning, August 11.  On August 6 you commented that this species has been seen quite frequently this year and in 2020.  I think the number of sightings has indeed been rather unusual for a species that’s red-listed in BC.  I’ve seen them in about half a dozen places this summer. 

Black Saddlebags Tramea lacerata (Odo.: Libellulidae)  Val George

 

Black Saddlebags Tramea lacerata (Odo.: Libellulidae)  Val George

 

   Many of us here in Victoria have been lamenting the scarcity of butterflies in the Victoria area.  Things are evidently different on Mount Washington, for Mike Yip writes:  I photographed 13 species on Mount Washington last week: Woodland Skipper, Pine White, Cabbage White, Margined White, Mylitta Crescent, Hydaspe Fritillary, Western Meadow Fritillary, Lorquin’s Admiral, Common Branded Skipper, Anna’s Blue, Mariposa Copper, Purplish Copper, and Hoary Comma. Two other friends also recorded Rocky Mountain Parnassian, Clodius Parnassian, Grey Hairstreak, and Sylvan Hairstreak.

Anna’s Blue Plebejus anna  (Lep.: Lycaenidae)   Mike Yip

Western Meadow Fritillary Boloria epithore (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Mike Yip

 

 

Hydaspe Fritillary Speyeria hydaspe (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Mike Yip

 

Mariposa Copper Lycaena mariposa (Lep.: Lycaenidae)   Mike Yip

Common Branded Skipper Hesperia comma (Lep.: Hesperiidae)  Mike Yip

 

Hoary Comma Polygonia gracilis (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Mike Yip

   Jeremy Tatum comments on the names of some of these butterflies.

  No one seems to know who Anna was, or even if there was such a person.  The name Anna’s Blue seems to be taken from the probably meaningless anna in the scientific name, much as we call Speyeria hydaspe  the Hydaspe Fritillary.   We should perhaps, therefore, call this butterfly the Anna Blue, and by the same token we should talk about the Anna Hummingbird and the Editha Checkerspot.   I doubt, however, if this suggestion is likely to take on.

   Some authors split the Branded Skippers into two species, the Common Branded Skipper Hesperia comma and the Western Branded Skipper H. colorado.  In this site I have been lumping them as a single species under the name Branded Skipper H. comma.   If, however, they are to be treated as separate species, the one that occurs on Mount Washington is supposed to be the the Common Branded Skipper H. comma, whereas the one that occurs on Cordova Spit in the Saanich Peninsula is supposed to be the Western Branded Skipper H. colorado.    H. comma also occurs in Britain, where it is known as the Silver-spotted Skipper, a name that is used for a quite different species in North America.   The word comma in the scientific name has, of course, no connection with the comma (formerly anglewing) butterflies in the Nymphalidae.  What a complicated situation!

   The Mariposa Copper is called by some authors Reakert’s Copper.   The word Mariposa is, I believe, Spanish for butterfly.

  Boloria epithore is called by some authors Clossiana epithore.

 

  The Vancouver population of the Hoary Comma P. gracilis is supposed by some authors to be a distinct species , the Zephyr Comma P. zephyrus.  We do not follow that in this site.

  Juliet asked:  What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

2021 August 11

2021 August 11

    Jeremy Tatum writes:  The first moth seen outside the door of my apartment building in Saanich for some weeks is an exciting one – Catocala relictaAfter photographing it, I took it to Mount Douglas – a more suitable place than my apartment building.

 

Catocala relicta (Lep.: Erebidae – Erebinae)  Jeremy Tatum

 

Catocala relicta (Lep.: Erebidae – Erebinae)  Jeremy Tatum

   As if that were not enough excitement for one day, a White-lined Hawk Moth emerged from its pupa. The caterpillar and pupa can be seen on the Invert Alerts for July 12 and 23.  After photographing the moth, I released it in the Martindale Valley, where the caterpillar was found.

White-lined Hawk Moth Hyles lineata (Lep.: Sphingidae) Jeremy Tatum

 

White-lined Hawk Moth Hyles lineata (Lep.: Sphingidae) Jeremy Tatum

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  We have seen several  “underwing” moths on this site in recent days, both “yellow underwings”  (Noctua) and “red underwings”  (Catocala).  (C. relicta shown above is one of the very few Catocala species that doesn’t have any red on its hindwing).  This started me thinking, while I lay awake in bed last night, about the word “underwing”.  The word is well  established as the English name of these groups.  The two genera are not closely related.  Although they both used to be included in the Family Noctuidae, in modern classifications Catacala has been moved to the new Family Erebidae. 

  Other than when referring to the English names for these two groups, the word “underwing” is not a good word when describing moth anatomy.  A moth, or butterfly, has two pairs of wings – the forewings and the hindwings.   Each wing has an upperside and an underside.   If someone talks about the colour of the “underwing” of a moth, one cannot be certain whether that person is referring to the hindwings, or to the underside of the wings.   It is probably best to avoid the word “underwing” in that context.

  Then there are the words “dorsal”, “lateral” and “ventral”  – grand, scientific-sounding words derived from Latin dorsum (back), latus (side) and “venter” (belly).     These words are best used to describe the aspect of the body of an insect, and should not be used when describing a wing.   For example, this photograph:

Pine White Neophasia menapia (Lep.: Pieridae)     Jochen Möhr

is certainly not a ventral view of the butterfly.  It is a lateral view.  It shows the underside of the hindwing and part of the underside of the forewing.