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.

May 1

2015 May 01




   The monthly Butterfly Walk led by Aziza Cooper is this Sunday, May 3 at 1pm. As always, we will meet at the top of Mount Tolmie and decide on our destination. The forecast is for sunshine and warm temperatures. Could be a good butterfly day!  For info, email Aziza (tanageraz at, or call her cell phone: 250-516-7703.


   Aziza also writes:


Appended is a summary of information I’ve compiled about watching butterflies: books and internet sites of interest. There are also short descriptions of the butterfly count and the butterfly walk.


It’s intended to help out those new to this interest, and remind everyone of what is out there to help us.


Additions and suggestions would be welcome.


Butterfly Watchers’ Resources

by Aziza Cooper, , April, 2015

Comments and suggestions welcome.


Part 1. Butterfly Count: April to September


Watching butterflies is best done on a warm, sunny day with calm to mild winds. Butterflies are most active in bright sun and when the temperature is above 12 ºC, between about 10am to 4pm. Our counts are held from April through September, and the count period is nine days of each month – from the third Saturday to the fourth Sunday.


Counting is straightforward – just count the number of each species you can confidently identify in any convenient location such as a park, field, street or your back yard. Good tools are close-focus binoculars, a field guide and a camera.  Photos of rare or unusual species are appreciated. Anyone can submit as many counts as they wish, as long as they fill out a count form for each location. Our count area is the same area as the Victoria Christmas Bird Count circle, with the northern border at about Island View Road, and the western border at Goldstream.


   The Butterfly Count isn’t a formal survey with set protocols. It’s very informal, and up to the observers to decide how long they spend in the field. It should be a comfortable length so that the observer can fit it into their busy life, rather than a really intensive search.


Please submit your counts on the form at the new link in the VNHS website:


Aziza sends out a reminder email for Butterfly Counts and the monthly Butterfly Walk. To receive the reminders, email Aziza at: .


Counts are compiled monthly by species, and a report of the results is published in The Victoria Naturalist early in the following year.



Part 2: Butterfly Walk


The Butterfly walk is held once a month on the first Sunday from April to September. We meet at 1pm at the summit of Mount Tolmie, and decide on our destination at that time. The outing usually lasts about two hours. The walk is weather-permitting, and will be cancelled in case of cloudy or cool weather. Reminder emails are sent out – see above to be added to the email list.


Part 3: Websites and Internet


InvertAlert (VNHS Invertebrate Alert): All terrestrial invertebrates including butterflies. No membership required. Send photos and sightings to   For Vancouver Island sightings. Link:

eFauna: species accounts and photos of BC wildlife including butterflies:

James Miskelly’s photos of Victoria butterflies on eFauna:,%20james&specrep=0

BCButterflies – a Yahoo postings group for BC observations, membership required. Go to Yahoo Groups to join.

Bugguide: an internet site for i.d. and posting of invertebrates. USA and Canada. Postings may request I.D. help. Membership required to post but not required to view. Link:

Flickr site: VNHSInvertAlert . Photos of all insects including butterflies. Membership required to post but not required to view photos. Link:

Victoria Natural History Society (VNHS) website.  Natural history of Victoria. Includes calendar of field trips for members, many other resources and links.


BC Butterfly Atlas: compiling sightings and encouraging surveys to add to knowledge about BC butterflies.


Part 4: Publications in print


The Victoria Naturalist, Victoria Natural History Society’s bimonthly publication. Publishes notice of field trips, annual results of the Butterfly Count, other articles of interest. Magazine included with membership of the Society, and sent as hard copy or electronic version.



Mike Yip and James Miskelly: Vancouver Island Butterflies. 2014. Species accounts and photos of all species known from Vancouver Island.

Jim P. Brock and Kenn Kaufman: Butterflies of North America (Kaufman Field Guides). 2006. Field guide illustrated with photos.

Jeffrey Glassberg: Butterflies through Binoculars: the West. 2001. Field guide illustrated with photos.

Jon Shepard and Crispin Guppy: Butterflies of British Columbia. 2001. Large hardcover format. Full species accounts and photos.

John Acorn: Butterflies of British Columbia. 2006. Field guide illustrated with paintings.

Ann Nightingale and Claudia Copley, eds. Nature Guide to the Victoria Region. 2012. Chapter on butterflies by James Miskelly with a checklist of Victoria area butterflies.




   Jeremy Gatten writes:  I was up on Observatory Hill today (May 1) and happened upon a couple of Greater Night-stalking Tiger Beetles (Omus dejeanii).  I have only seen them once before, but I guess in the right habitat they are not too hard to come across if you look under woody debris.  Other than that, not too much to report.  Moths have been fairly slow.  I believe I had a new Hydriomena tonight (for the year, at least).  I unfortunately lost track of it, so I’ll have to see if it comes back to a light later.

Greater Night-stalking Tiger Beetle Omus dejeanii  (Col.:  Carabidae – Cicindelinae)

Jeremy Gatten   







April 30

2015 April 30


   Aziza Cooper writes:  I found the spider in my bedroom. I captured it and placed it on the roof outside my window.


   Robb Bennett kindly identified it for us as a female Phidippus johnsoni.  Robb writes:

The males are even more brightly coloured with the dorsal abdomen being completely scarlet.

 Phidippus johnsoni (Ara.: Salticidae)  Aziza Cooper


  Aziza continues:  The Red Admiral was along the trail to the West Summit of Mount Douglas yesterday (April 28). It was quite windy in the afternoon, and the butterfly was along the level paved trail before the second set of steps.


Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Aziza Cooper



   Jeremy Tatum writes:  There was a Mourning Cloak on the Mount Tolmie reservoir this afternoon (April 30), and two more at UVic.

April 29

2015 April 29


   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Talking of chalcidoids – which we were on April 27 – I came across some myself today.  On March 8 I showed a batch of eggs of the Vapourer Moth Orgyia antiqua.  Well, a whole bunch of parasitoidal chalcidoid wasps came out of them today.  From front of head to tip of abdomen, they were a little less than 1 mm in length.  The wings extended a little bit more behind, and the antennae projected forward, but including wingtips and antennae the total length was still less than 2 mm.  They were very active and, though I tried, I just couldn’t get a photo of them.


   I did get photos of a couple of insects.  The first is a bright green maggot of a hoverfly from Rithet’s Bog.  I might at one time have called it Catabomba, but I’m not sure whether that name is still valid.  The other is a micro moth from Snowberry on Mount Tolmie.  Thanks to Eric LaGasa for identifying it.  He writes:  Your image is an example of the plain-Jane version of the Orange Tortrix, Argyrotaenia franciscana (was A. citrana a while back).  It’s rather ubiquitous around here (Washington) on a huge range of hosts, and occurs in an interesting mix of wing patterns ( ).

Hoverfly maggot (Dip.: Syrphidae)   Jeremy Tatum

Argyrotaenia franciscana (Lep.: Tortricidae)   Jeremy Tatum



   Ken Vaughan writes:  Here’s a couple from Swan Lake on 22 Apr 15: a teneral male Pacific Forktail and a male California Darner. Very little variety for Odonata as of now, but that will change.


Pacific Forktail Ischnura cervula

(Odo.: Coenagrionidae)

Ken Vaughan


California Darner Rhionaeschna californica (Odo.:Aeshnidae)  Ken Vaughan



   Scott Gilmore writes from Upper Lantzville: Yesterday (April 28) I came across a couple of interesting critters (see pictures below). A Root Maggot Fly and a green stink bug.  It was also a six-species-of-butterfly day with Cabbage White, Pacific Azure (= Western Spring Azure), Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Mourning Cloak and Western Brown Elfin.  [Jeremy Tatum comments – We’ve had several zero-species-of-butterfly days recently down here in Victoria.]

Root Maggot Fly  Anthomyia procellaris (Dip.: Anthomyiidae)  Scott Gillmore


Root Maggot Fly  Anthomyia procellaris (Dip.: Anthomyiidae)  Scott Gillmore


Stink bug Zicrona sp. (probably caerulea)  (Hem.: Pentatomidae) Scott Gillmore


   Jeremy Tatum writes:  I notice that we have had several flies (Diptera) on this site recently, so, to continue in this vein:  When a butterfly or moth caterpillar is ready to pupate, its outermost skin peels off, revealing the pupa underneath.  But when a brachyceran fly maggot is ready to pupate, it doesn’t slough its outmost skin.  Instead the skin hardens to form the pupa, which is called a puparium.  The photograph below shows two fly puparia, which I photographed today.  To protect sensitivities, I shall not go into further details of the life-history here (Rated PG). 

Fly puparia  (Dip.: Tachinidae)   Jeremy Tatum




April 28

2015 April 28


   Annie Pang sends a photo of a Flesh fly Sarcophaga sp. from Gorge Park on April 14.

The maggots eat decaying animal flesh.


 Flesh fly  Sarcophaga sp. (Dip.: Sarcophagidae)   Annie Pang


April 27

2015 April 27


   Scott Gilmore writes:   I have attached an interesting Chalcid Wasp I found in my Upper Lantzville backyard on Saturday April 25th. It was found flying around a Douglas Fir and sure enough has been confirmed as a Douglas Fir Seed Chalcid by Ross Hill  (Hymenoptera: Torymidae, Megastigmus spermotrophus)


The BC Forestry Genetics Council has a nice little leaflet on the life cycle of



   [Jeremy Tatum comments:  The English name “chalcid” might seem to imply that it comes from a family “Chalcidae”.  There was a family with such a name at one time, but since then the taxonomy of these and related insects has been greatly revised – although the English name “chalcid” has stuck for many of them.  At present there is a superfamily called Chalcidoidea, which includes many related families, one of which is Chalcididae (with an extra syllable stuck in there!)  They are all very tiny insects, and Scott obviously has some hidden expertise in photographing them.  Some of them are butterfly and moth parasitoids.  The adult wasp of these lays many eggs inside a single moth egg.  The grubs that hatch then spend their entire larval and pupal life inside the moth egg.  I have seen about twenty adult chalcidoid wasps of the family Pteromalidae emerge from a single egg of the Polyphemus Moth.   The insects that Scott has photographed are not moth parasitoids, however, but from another chalcidoid family – Torymidae –  and they spend their immature stages in fir cone seeds.  The link to the leaflet that Scott gives is most interesting and worth looking at.]


Megastigmus spermotrophus (Hym.: Torymidae)  Scott Gilmore

 Megastigmus spermotrophus (Hym.: Torymidae)  Scott Gilmore