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 2

2021 August 2

 

   In spite of a great paucity of butterflies this year and especially the last week or so, and in spite of the oppressive heat and smoky atmosphere, six enthusiastic butterfly-watchers took part in the VNHS August Butterfly Walk yesterday.  We chose to go to the Royal Roads University campus, with the target species being the Pine White.  Even with few butterflies, it was really interesting to walk around the magnificent gardens there.   There were dozens of Woodland Skippers, especially on Lavendar blossom.  There were, of course, Cabbage Whites, and there was a magnificent Western Tiger Swallowtail, which got several cameras a-clicking.   And near the end of the walk, just when we were despairing of seeing the target species, we found a male Pine White nectaring at ground level to give us all a good look.

 

Apart from butterflies, one of the more exciting things was a nest of the White-faced Hornet.  Strictly speaking, I suppose, since it is Dolichovespula and not Vespa, I suppose we should call it a wasp rather than a hornet.  Their sting is reputed to be very painful, but, as long as you leave them and their nest alone, they are not a particularly aggressive insect.

 

White-faced Hornet Dolichovespula maculata (Hym.: Vespidae)  Gordon Hart

 

There was a young man from Tralee

Who was stung on the nose by a wasp.

When asked : “Does it hurt?”

He replied: “No it doesn’t –

It’s a good thing it wasn’t a hornet.”

 

W.S.Gilbert

 

 

Here are three more photographs from Gordon Hart taken during the walk.  Gordon writes:  This is a Leafcutter Bee, Megachile sp., but I can’t go further than that. There are 130 -140 North American species plus some imports from Europe, and they are difficult to key out to species without having more structural details. I think it is a female if I counted the antenna segments correctly, but I don’t know what the back end is supposed to look like. Apparently, they often assume that posture with the abdomen raised. The large head is to accommodate the large mandibles. A lot of them specialize on flowers of the aster family or legumes. This was on a large daisy which is in the aster family.

 

Leafcutter bee Megachile sp. (Hym.: Megachilidae)  Gordon Hart

Western Tiger Swallowtail Papilio rutulus (Lep.: Papilionidae)
Honey Bee Apis mellifera (Hym.: Apidae)

Gordon Hart

Woodland Skipper Ochlodes sylvanoides (Lep.: Hesperiidae)  Gordon Hart

 

Jochen Möhr also sent a photograph of a Woodland Skipper from Metchosin.  Both photographs show the hook at the end of the tip of the antenna.  It is probably too late in the season to get a good close-up photograph of the tip of the antenna of an Essex Skipper, but it would doubtless be found that it lacks the hook seen in the Woodland Skipper.

 

Woodland Skipper Ochlodes sylvanoides (Lep.: Hesperiidae) Jochen Möhr

 

Also from Jochen, three moths:

 

Eupithecia unicolor (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr

 

Silver-spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa argentata (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae)

Jochen Möhr

 

Soothsayer Graphiphora augur (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jochen Möhr

 

 

Ron Flower sends this picture of a hawk moth from the Highlands, June 17.  Strictly this is a bit late for inclusion in the Invertebrate “Alert” – but hawk moths are rather special, and this one is one of our less common hawk moths, and I couldn’t resist.  Jochen Moehr reminds us that he recorded a hawk moth of the same species in Metchosin on the previous day, June 16 (see the Invert Alert for that date).  We leave it to viewers to speculate on how or why!

 

 

Paonias excaecata (Lep.: Sphingidae)  Ron Flower

 

Before we close – we have learned of the latest victim of Political Correctness.  Those who make it their business to be offended apparently find that the name Gypsy Moth is offensive, and the moth is to be given a new name (not yet chosen).

2021 August 1 afternoon

2021 August 2 afternoon

     Jeremy Tatum writes:  Here’s a photograph of a pug moth (Eupthecia sp.) from the University of Victoria this morning.  Unfortunately, I can’t be certain of the species.  Eupithecia annulata is a possibility.

 

Eupithecia sp. (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jeremy Tatum

   On July 25, Kirsten Mills visited Mount Washington with Jeff Gaskin, where Kirsten photographed this moth on the summit.  Libby Avis writes:  A very nice find!   It looks as if it could be Sympistis wilsoni, which has been reported from the Island. 

Sympistis wilsoni (Lep.:  Noctuidae)  Kirsten Mills

2021 August 1 morning

2021 August 1 morning

 

   After some brief unaccustomed cloud yesterday, the Sun is coming out again today, so the VNHS August Butterfly Walk is on!    Top of Mount Tolmie, 1:00 pm today, Sunday August 1.  All very welcome!

  Mr E sends a photograph of a Grey Flesh Fly, Family Sarcophagidae.  Jeremy Tatum says he is tempted to say Subfamily Sarcophaginae, or even genus Sarcophaga, but prudence suggests we stick to Family Sarcophagidae.  Mr E reminds us that these flies don’t lay eggs – they lay already wriggling maggots!

Grey Flesh Fly (Dip.: Sarcophagidae)   Mr E

 

 

 Grey Flesh Fly (Dip.: Sarcophagidae)   Mr E

 

   Kate Woods sends photographs of a nice plusiine moth from Sooke, July 31.  Thanks to Libby Avis for the identification as Autographa corusca.

Autographa corusca (Lep.: Noctuidae – Plusiinae)  Kate Woods

 

 

Autographa corusca (Lep.: Noctuidae – Plusiinae)  Kate Woods

 

 

Autographa corusca (Lep.: Noctuidae – Plusiinae)  Kate Woods

    

2021 July 31

2021 July 31

    Gordon Hart writes:      A reminder that the VNHS August Butterfly Walk will take place on Sunday, August 1, as described in the VNHS calendar. We will meet at 1 p.m. by the reservoir near the Mount Tolmie summit, where we will decide on a destination. Royal Roads has been suggested where we could find several species around the grounds and in the gardens.

 

To which Jeremy Tatum adds:  This summer we haven’t usually had to bother with adding the proviso that a butterfly walk requires sunny weather.  Today, however, we have seen some unaccustomed clouds and even a little rain, so it is best to be reminded that, if it is cloudy and raining, the butterfly walk will be off!  I’ll go up to Mount Tolmie at 1:00 pm anyway.

 

Jochen Möhr’s moths from Metchosin this morning.  The third one is a little bit worn, so we can’t be quite certain of the identification.

 

Alucita montana (Lep.: Alucitidae)  Jochem Möhr

Idaea dimidiata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr

 

Possibly Protitame subalbaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr

 

Jeremy Tatum writes:  Earlier this year I mentioned that a care home in Victoria had obtained two dozen commercially-reared caterpillars of the Painted Lady, feeding on something that looked a bit like mashed potato. Most of these successfully produced adult butterflies and were duly released.  Viewers may have noticed an article in today’s (July 31) Times-Colonist, page A4, saying that 1000 Painted Ladies had been released at 24 care homes across BC, including one in Sidney, apparently in honour of Covid-19 victims.  These butterflies had apparently been shipped, as adults, from a firm in Edmonton that raises them.

 

 

2021 July 30

2021 July 30

   The VNHS August Butterfly Walk will take place on Sunday August 1.  Meet at the top of Mount Tolmie at 1:00 pm.  After a brief look around there, we will decide where to go.  Royal Roads University has been suggested – there are good numbers of Pine Whites to be seen there.  A few of them are coming down low for nectar, allowing good looks.  The males and females are different in appearance, so you get two for one, so to speak.

    There don’t seem to be huge numbers of other butterflies around just now in this hot weather.  However, there are a few good ones still flying.  Jeff Gaskin writes:

    In case Kirsten Mills hasn’t told you already, she found a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell at the corner of Richmond Avenue and Cedar Hill Cross Road yesterday afternoon, July 29.  I saw a rather late Western Tiger Swallowtail in Finnerty Gardens on a Buddleia bush today, July 30.