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.

2024 April 8

2024 April 8

   Jochen Möhr sends photographs of three moths from Metchosin, all out of tripod reach, and all presenting identification challenges.  One is one of the difficult pair Eupithecia nevadata/ravocostaliata, but the mid-costal mark is brown and triangular, and Jochen, Jeremy Tatum and Libby Avis all agree that it is E. nevadata.  Another is a member of the notoriously difficult pair Triphosa haesitata/Rheumaptera [formerly Coryphista] meadii – but all three of us readily agree that this one is Triphosa haesitata.  The third one, a noctuid, was more difficult, but Libby managed to identify it as Ufeus satyricus sagittarius.

Eupithecia nevadata (Lep.: Geometridae)   Jochen Möhr

Triphosa haesitata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr

Ufeus satyricus  (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Möhr

2024 April 7 morning

2024 April 7 morning

Aziza Cooper writes:  On April 6, I saw two Sara Orangetips on the west slope of Mount Douglas, where Glendenning Trail enters the oaks.  On April 5, there was one Mourning Cloak at Red Barn/Tod Creek Flats.


Solar Eclipse
Jeremy Tatum  (retired astronomer)

 There will be a small partial eclipse of the Sun tomorrow, starting at 10:41 am PDT,  maximum at 11:29 am, ending at 12:19 pm.  It will be much smaller than the partial eclipse that we saw last October, but still worth watching.

­How to watch it safely:  It is very dangerous to attempt to look directly at the Sun, with or without sunglasses.  Even expensive polarizing sunglasses, for which you paid hundreds of dollars, are not remotely suitable for protecting your eyes.  The best way (in my opinion the only way) to watch a partial eclipse safely is to do so under the direct supervision of an experienced astronomer.  We are very fortunate here in Victoria, that you can go either to UVic or to the DAO (Dominion Astrophysical Observatory), where there will be lots of astronomers showing the eclipse safely, and I strongly advise people to go to one of these places.

Sorry – I’m not available myself, since I will be visiting at a care home at the time, where I shall be showing the eclipse to residents and staff.

One interesting observation that you can make is to look at the dappled shadow of a leafy broad-leafed tree.  There, you will see hundreds of pinhole images of the partially-eclipsed Sun.



2024 April 6

2024 April 6

   Ian Cooper sends photographs of a velvet mite and a globose springtail:

Velvet Mite  (Acari:  Trombidiidae)  Ian Cooper

Globose springtail, Ptenothrix sp. (Coll.: Dicyrtomidae)   Ian Cooper



Jeremy Tatum writes:

On January 4, I made some preliminary remarks about the Annotated Taxonomic Checklist (ATC) of the Lepidoptera of North America North of Mexico edited by Gregory Pohl and Stephen Nanz.   I have now had time to go through the butterflies as our local species are affected by the ATC.  I shall be following the ATC when I prepare the 2024 Butterfly Report (in January 2025).

English names of our butterflies are not affected by the ATC,  except that the Western and Brown Elfins are now lumped, so we should now call them all Brown Elfins.  I also suggest below that we should call our Coenonympha the California Ringlet.

There are several changes in sequence, which I shall not list here, but the new sequence will become apparent when I produce the 2024 butterfly report.

The following are the changes in the scientific names of butterflies that I have detected in the ATC.  (I have not tackled the moths.)


The Hesperiidae (formerly included in a now no longer used Superfamily Hesperioidea) are now included in the Superfamily Papilioidea.  What this means when re-written in English with the long words removed, is that you can now happily call the skippers butterflies.

Th Arctic Skipper  is no longer considered to be the same species as the European Chequered Skipper C. palaemon.  It is now either C. mandan or C. skada.  It is not yet clear which of these two names apply to the Vancouver Island butterflies.  Arctic Skipper is not a particularly good name, since it is by no means even approximately restricted to the Arctic.

The Common and Western Branded Skippers are treated as separate species in the ATC, and I shall (admittedly with some reluctance) be following that here.  The Common Branded Skipper (known as the Silver-spotted Skipper in the UK) is Hesperia comma.  This species may occur on Vancouver Island, but the colony on Cordova Spit is believed to be the Western Branded Skipper Hesperia colorado.

The tiger swallowtails are no longer in Papilio, but are now in Pterourus.   This not a new-fangled name.  It is the genus they used to belong to before they were (inexplicably) lumped with other quite different  butterflies in Papilio.

The Purplish Copper is now Tharsalea helloides.

Mitoura and Incisalia are now subgenera of the enlarged genus Callophrys.
Thus, we now have:
Cedar Hairstreak:  Callophrys (Mitoura) gryneus.          Formerly Mitoura rosneri.
Western Pine Elfin:  Callophrys (Incisalia) eryphon.      Formerly Incisalia eryphon.
Moss’s Elfin:  Callophrys (Incsialia) mossii.                      Formerly Incisaloa mossii.
Brown Elfin:  Callophrys (Incisalia) augustinus.              Formerly Incisalia iroides.

The name augustinus is not a new-fangled name.  It is merely returning the Brown Elfin to its former species name before it suffered from lot of unnecessary “splitting”.

 The small and large fritillaries are now in the Subfamily Heliconiinae.  (Surprising?)

The larger fritillaries (Zerene, Hydaspe) are now in the genus Argynnis, with Speyeria being regarded as a subgenus.  This now agrees with European practice.


The “Ringlet” has long caused nomenclatural problems, and such problems are doubtless not yet over. The ATC lists four species of Coenonympha, two of which do not concern us.  The remainder consists of a huge Holarctic assemblage of numerous forms and populations referred to as the “tullia complex”.  The ATC treats this complex as consisting of just two species – Coenonympha tullia and C. california.  The former has three named subspecies. The latter has numerous subspecies and synonyms. (A rough quick count came to about 30.)  The ATC does not specifically indicate to which species our Vancouver Island population belongs, but I think it is intended that our butterflies are C. california, and, if Invertebrate Alert is to follow ATC usage, this is the name that we should henceforth use.

The ATC does not deal with English names, so we are left with the question as to what English name we should use.   “Ringlet” is not ideal, since that name is used in the UK for a quite different species.  I have sometimes suggested that we should use the UK name “Large Heath” – but that won’t do, for Large Heath is C. tullia, and our butterfly is no longer tullia.  We might use “Ringlet” with an adjective in front of it. The problem then is – what adjective?  I suppose the obvious solution is to call our butterfly the California Ringlet.

Generally, the use of special English names for subspecies is to be discouraged – but if we do use an English name for a subspecies, we might follow what the birdwatchers do, and use parentheses and quotation marks, as in Yellow-rumped (“Myrtle”) Warbler.  The English name for our western yellow-throated population of this bird has problems of its own, for it is Incorrect.  I suppose the day will come when Lorquin’s Admiral and Milbert’s Tortoiseshell will also suffer from Incorrectness.



2024 April 5


2024 April 5

    Jeff Gaskin writes: Today, April 5th, there were two Mourning Cloaks at Panama Flats.  I saw one with Les Peterson in the south-east end of the flats and Les saw the other one by the gravel trail next to Interurban Road.

Val George writes:  This Drepanulatrix moth (secundaria? monicaria?) was on the wall of my Oak Bay house this morning, April 5.   Jeremy Tatum agrees:  Yes, I can’t tell the difference between monicaria  and secundaria, either, though this one does look a lot like monicaria.  It’s a male, anyway – see the bipectinate antennae.

Drepanulatrix monicaria/secundaria  (Lep.: Geometridae)  Val George


Here are more miscellanea from Ian Cooper.  It’s amazing, the number of creatures under our feet that most of us never notice.   Thanks to Robert Forsyth, Heather Proctor, Robb Bennett for help with the identification of the slugs/snail, mite, spider, respectively.

First, a Leopard Slug.  Compare this unspotted variety with the very spotted one shown on April 2.  Is the April 2 one what gave Rudyard Kipling the inspiration for How the Leopard Got His Spots?

Limax maximus (Pul.: Limacidae)  Ian Cooper


Another pair of slugs below in a tender moment. Labelled Deroceras panorbitanum in earlier photographs in this site of this species,  Robert Forsyth tells us that recent work has led to the recognition that P. panorbitanum is a Sicilian endemic, and the species that we have here is P. invadens.

 Deroceras invadens  (Pul.: Agriolimacidae)  Ian Cooper


Vespericola columbianus  (Pul.:  Polygyridae)   Ian Cooper


If anyone is unsure about the statement that millepedes have two pairs of legs on each segment, have a look at the millepede below.

Flat millepede Scytonotus sp. (Diplopoda:  Polydesmidae)   Ian Cooper


Velvet Mite  (Acari:  Trombidiidae)  Ian Cooper


Female linyphiine spider (Ara.:  Linyphiidae – Linyphiinae)  Ian Cooper

2024 April 4 morning

2024 April 4

  More biodiversity from Ian Cooper:

Steatoda sp. Possibly Steatoda bipunctata (Ara.: Theridiidae)   Ian Cooper


Rugathodes sexpunctatus (Ara.: Theridiidae)   Ian Cooper



Female Pimoa altioculata (Ara: Pimoidae) guarding her egg sac.   Ian Cooper

Two Grey Field Slugs in copulaDeroceras reticulatum (Pul.: Agriolimacidae)
Ian Cooper


Millepede.   Class Diplopoda.  Order probably Julida
Ian Cooper


Globose springtail, Ptenothrix sp. (Coll.: Dicyrtomidae)   Ian Cooper