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 16


2018 September 16


   Ron Flower sends a photograph of an insect from Goldstream.   Jeremy Tatum writes:  I have to say that I was completely floored by it – I could not even guess as to Order.   So I tried Dr Rob Cannings, in the hope that he might possibly be able to suggest the Order.   Rob replied almost immediately, with Order, Family, Genus and Species!     It is a woodwasp, a hymenopteran in the Family Siricidae, related to the sawflies.  Thank you, Rob!


Urocerus californicus (Hym.: Siricidae)    Ron Flower


   Bryan Gates writes:  At least seven of these Lophocampa maculata were on my alders at Saratoga Beach today, after a heavy rain through the night, Sept. 15-16, 2018. My notes show that I photographed one on the same alder on Sept. 8, 2017.


Spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa maculata (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae)  Bryan Gates


   Jeremy Tatum writes:  A rainy day today, but during a brief sunny spell I saw a Cabbage White from the window of my Saanich apartment.



September 15

2018 September 15


   Continuing the saga on the Triphosa haesitata / Coryphista meadii  identification problem, Ron Flower sends a picture, from Goldstream Park last week, of one of the forms of Coryphista meadii  that cannot (we hope!) be confused with T. haesitata.  Would that all meadii were of this form!



Coryphista meadii (Lep.: Geometridae)   Ron Flower






   Val George writes:  A couple of days ago, Sept 12, this Chlorochroa Stink Bug was in my Oak Bay garden.  I suspect it is a “sp.”   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Agreed, but most likely C. uhleri rather than sayi.


Stink Bug Chlorochroa (probably uhleri) (Hem.: Pentatomidae)  Val George


   Jeremy Tatum notes a few Cabbage Whites today at Maber and Martindale Flats.


   Alanah Nasadyk writes:  I found this handsome moth in the spikemoss going up towards Sugarloaf Mountain in the Sooke Hills.  Libby Avis kindly identified it for us as Mesogona olivata, a moth that occurs in dry Garry Oak type habitat, Garry Oak being one of the larval foodplants.


Mesogona olivata (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Alanah Nasadyk



September 14


2018 September 14


   Here are a few moths photographed in Metchosin by Jochen Möhr.    We sometimes dread having to distinguish between Coryphista meadii and Triphosa haesitata.  The former occurs in several forms. Some of the forms are easy to identify, but one form looks exceedingly like T. haesitata.  The following three moths are difficult, but we are pretty sure that they are all Triphosa haesitata. The one sure way of distinguishing between the species is their caterpillars – which are totally different!


Triphosa haesitata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


Triphosa haesitata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


Triphosa haesitata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


The next one is also a little tricky, since there are some similar congeners.


Tetracis pallulata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


   We can relax with the next two, which are relatively easy!


Ennomos magnaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


Zenophleps lignicolorata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


   We haven’t yet quite finished with the word “spectacular” this year.  Here’s a caterpillar found by Jeremy Tatum this morning on Black Hawthorn in Uplands Park:


Polyphemus Moth Antheraea polyphemus (Lep.: Saturniidae) Jeremy Tatum

September 13

There was no Invert Alert on September 12

2018 September 13

Message from Gordon Hart

Hello Butterfly Counters,

The September count runs nine days from the third Saturday, September 15, to the fourth Sunday, September 23. You can submit a count anytime over this period, and you can do more than one count, just use a separate form for each count. In the case of repeat counts, or more than one person counting an area, I will take the highest count for each species.

Please use the form at on the Victoria Natural History Society website. If you have a zero count, or just one or two butterflies, you can email me directly.

The count area is the same as the Christmas Bird Count circle (attached). For butterfly identification, the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT) has a useful chart of butterflies of southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands:

If you would like a suggestion for an area to count, please send me an email. (hartgordon19 at gmail dot com)

In addition to the counts, a monthly butterfly walk is held on the first Sunday of each month – the last walk of 2018 will be on October 7. This may seem a bit late, but we may see some migrating butterflies or second-generation adults. We start at the summit of Mount Tolmie at 1pm, and decide where to go from there. I will send out another reminder closer to the date.

Thank-you for submitting your sightings and happy counting!

Gordon Hart

Butterfly Count Coordinator

Victoria Natural History Society

Count circle map link:



   Gordon Hart sends photographs of a Honey Bee and a dragonfly.  We weren’t sure whether the dragonfly was Sympetrum illotum or S. madidum, so we went to expert Dr Rob Cannings, who identified it as Sympetrum illotum, and he explained:

   It is a male S. illotum. The broad abdomen is a good character and the red colour is usually more vibrant than in S. madidum. Mature S. illotum also have a pair of bright white-yellow spots on the sides of the thorax which S. madidum lacks (mature males of the latter species have partial dull white stripes in the same place). The dark cells at the bases of the wings that you can see here are part of the brown marks at the bases of the wings that the books talk about. The species is mainly a spring and early summer one and drops off considerably in abundance after July, just as other species of Sympetrum are getting more and more frequent.  But it still hangs around as late as mid-October in some years.

Honey Bee Apis mellifera (Hym.: Apidae)  Gordon Hart

Cardinal Meadowhawk Sympetrum illotum (Odo.: Libellulidae)  Gordon Hart


   Just in case some of you thought that maybe we exaggerated in saying that the wingspan of the Black Witch is seven inches,  here’s another photograph of Libby Avis’s one.  On my screen an inch is an inch, so the moth is life-size.


Male Black Witch Ascalapha odorata (Lep.: Erebidae – Erebinae)  Libby Avis


    Not quite so big, but still impressive are our native erebids of the genus Catocala, the underwing moths.   Jessica Page found one on Maplewood Road, Saanich, on September 2, and she managed to get a distant shot.  Catocala is a large genus, with many similar species that are notoriously difficult to identify with certainty.  Our commonest (hence “default”) species is C. aholibah.  Although this species sometimes shows a conspicuous white spot on the forewing, as in Jessica’s photograph, we are not sure if this is sufficient to identify it with certainty.  So let’s say:  Catocala, and maybe Catocala aholibah.

Catocala sp.: (Lep.: Erebidae – Erebinae)  Jessica Page


   Jeremy Tatum writes:   While on the subject of the spectacular, I have just (September 13 afternoon) returned from Bow Park, Saanich, where I saw a Garden Tiger Moth Arctia caja flying around in the sunshine.

      We are almost out of butterflies now, but Gordon noted a few Pine and Cabbage Whites at his Highlands property on September 12.   Jeremy Tatum saw a Cabbage White at Bow Park on September 13 will it be the last butterfly of the year?


September 11

2018 September 11


    Two small points about the Black Witches shown in yesterday’s posting.  1.  Libby estimated the wingspan of her Witch to be about seven inches.  Now, before you read on, go to your cupboard or drawer and bring out a ruler and remind yourself of exactly what seven inches looks like.  Once you’ve done that, you’ll see how excited we are over having two Black Witches on the Island.  2.  The two Black Witches shown on yesterday’s posting looked rather different.  Apparently they are sexually dimorphic.  I have added the sex to the caption of each of yesterday’s photographs.    I wonder if “male Black  Witch” is a contradiction in terms. Should it be “Black Warlock”?  And what about a male Painted Lady?  Should that not be a Painted Gentleman?


   Now more moth news from Jochen Möhr in Metchosin.

   The first is a pterophorid moth.   It looks a lot like Oidaematophorus mathewianus.  The trouble is that there are lots of pterophorids that also look like this, and, because of the way they hold their wings, they are difficult to identify from photographs.  Our commonest species of this group that we get in Victoria is Emmelina monodactyla.  It may be safest to label this just “pterophorid moth”.


Pterophorid moth (Lep.: Pterophoridae)   Jochen Möhr


Stenoporpia pulmonaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


   Two geometrid moths,  Triphosa haesitata and Coryphysta meadii, sometimes look so much alike that we dread being sent photographs of them!  Today we had photographs from Jochen Möhr and from Annie Pang.  Coryphista meadii  occurs in several forms, not all of which look like T. haesitata.  Fortunately, Jochen’s photograph below is one of the forms of  Coryphista meadii that does not resemble Triphosa haesitata and is therefore easy to identify, even though this is a somewhat worn specimen.


Coryphista meadii (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


   Annie’s is Triphosa haesitata:


Triphosa haesitata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Annie Pang