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.

October 24

2016 October 24


   Jeff Gaskin writes:  Yesterday, October 23, I saw two Cabbage Whites on Tillicum Road. There was one on Tillicum Road at Carey Road and the other one was on Tillicum Road at the Island Highway.  And today, October 24, Devon Parker saw two on the hillside along Latoria Road.


Jeremy Tatum writes:  Bill Savale and I visited the Kinsol trestle yesterday (October 23).  The river below was in full flood and the scenery quite spectacular, but this note, of course, concerns invertebrates seen there.  The fence on either side of the bridge has a handrail made of a shiny aluminium tube running the full length of the bridge.  A shiny aluminium tube sounds an unlikely habitat on which to find anything of natural history interest, but in fact there was a fantastic variety of creatures there – beetles, bugs, stoneflies, large colourful globose springtails, mites, etc. I am sure the large harvestman we saw was not the usual Phalangium opilio, but was a more impressive species. There was a huge variety (possibly about 15 species – we lost count) of spiders, nearly all of them unfamiliar to us, and not the usual run of spiders that are commonly seen on this site.  They ranged in size from tiny ones barely visible to our aged eyes to huge, frightening ones. One of the commonest was a species of Cyclosa, with its odd-shaped abdomen and its beautiful web with stabilimentum.  Also of great interest – there were lots of things that looked like tiny (5 mm) fragments of general detritus on the aluminium tube.  At first that’s just what we thought they were – until we noticed that some of them moved slightly, seemingly of their own volition.  On looking at them closely, we saw that each of them was a tiny tube, and from time to time a small head and a pair of legs poked out.  It seems hardly credible, but I think they may have been caddisfly larvae.  Caddisfly larvae are, of course, familiar objects under water in ponds, but I have never heard of one out of water, let alone dozens of them on the shiny surface of an aluminium tube, nowhere near water other than the raging river hundreds of feet below.  Quite extraordinary!


Also found near the bridge was a mushroom (Bill will know which species), and, in the spaces between the gills was a horde of mites with exceptionally long legs – especially the front pair.  Thanks to Dr Heather Proctor for identifying these as members of the family Eupodidae.


Libby Avis sends photographs of two caterpillars found on alder on a logging road near the Alberni Inlet on October 22nd.  One is the Peppered Moth Biston betularia  (of industrial melanism fame).  The other is a hooktip moth Drepana sp.  Jeremy Tatum writes that he can’t be totally certain whether it is Drepana arcuata or Drepana bilineata, but he’d put his money (maybe not a lot of it) on the latter.


Peppered Moth Biston betularia (Lep.: Geometridae) Libby Avis


Peppered Moth Biston betularia (Lep.: Geometridae) Libby Avis


Drepana sp. (Lep.: Drepanidae)  Libby Avis

Drepana sp. (Lep.: Drepanidae)  Libby Avis



Liam Singh sends a spectacular photograph of a jumping spider Phidippus sp. from his yard.  Although it has no red, it is believed that this is probably a young Phidippus johnsoni


Jumping spider Phidippus (probably johnsoni)  (Ara.: Salticidae)  Liam Singh


October 20

2016 October 20


   Jeremy Tatum writes:  It’s Winter Moth season again.  Here is my first of the season – at my Saanich apartment this morning.


Winter Moth Operophtera brumata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jeremy Tatum


October 18

2016 October 18


   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Did I say that the Invert Alert season is almost over?  Our contributors are proving me wrong, with another interesting batch of creatures.


   Twice recently (October 11 and 17) we have had photographs of bark lice.  Thanks to Dr E. Mockford (University of Illinois) for identifying these for us – and thanks to Dr Rob Cannings for putting me in touch with Dr Mockford.


   Rosemary Jorna writes:  This weather is bringing out the snails. I met this small Pacific Sideband Snail Monadenia fidelis  near the Charters River Salmon Interpretative Centre off Sooke River Road.  There should be Vertigo Snails on their Big Leaf Maples, I’ll have to look but we were there to see the newly arrived Salmon. It is a really good viewing spot. What a wonderful gift Dr Joyce Clearihue gave to the community when she bought that land for the CRD, which made the Centre possible.


Pacific Sideband Snail Monadenia fidelis (Pul.: Bradybaenidae)  Rosemary Jorna



   Libby Avis sends photographs of two caterpillars from Cameron Lake, October 12.  The first looks quite like the Habrosyne scripta caterpillar shown on September 21, except that the white spots (mimcry of tachinid eggs?) are much lower down on the abdomen – they are usually on the thorax of H. scripta.  We suspect that Libby’s caterpillar may actually be Pseudothyatira cymatophoroides.



Pseudothyatira cymatophoroides (Lep.: Drepanidae – Thyatirinae)  Libby Avis


Pseudothyatira cymatophoroides (Lep.: Drepanidae – Thyatirinae)  Libby Avis



Pseudothyatira cymatophoroides (Lep.: Drepanidae – Thyatirinae)  Libby Avis


  Her second caterpillar has the black diamonds on the back which seem to be characterstic of Polia nimbosa.

 Polia nimbosa (Lep.: Noctuidae)   Libby Avis


Polia nimbosa (Lep.: Noctuidae)   Libby Avis


Polia nimbosa (Lep.: Noctuidae)   Libby Avis



October 17

2016 October 17


   Sending your contributions to Invert Alert.   For some time the heading at the top of Invert Alert suggested that you send your contributions (photographs and observations) to    We have found it much more efficient, however, if you send your contributions direct to Jeremy Tatum at, which most of you have been doing anyway, and we have changed the instructions on the heading to the site accordingly.


   The bark lice and book lice comprise a not-very-well-known Order Psocoptera.  They are tiny and inconspicuous insects, and not often photographed, so it is amazing for Invert Alert to receive two excellent photographs of bark lice within a few days.  Hot on the heels of Liam Singh’s bark louse (October 11 posting), comes one from Kemp Lake Road by Rosemary Jorna.   Thanks to Dr E. Mockford for the identification


Bark louse Graphopsocus cruciatus (Pso: Stenopsocidae)   Rosemary Jorna



October 16

2016 October 16


  This stormy weather hasn’t prevented invertebrate-seekers from finding some interesting creatures.


Rosemary Jorna writes:  It looks as if I may have caught two of those tiny Nearctula sp. snails mating this afternoon. They are so small I did not realize there were two until I down-loaded about 20 minutes later. There were at least six out and active, the bark was so wet. I went back to see if I could get a clearer photograph but I could not relocate them. I am sending them because you may know if there is a biologist somewhere trying to understand more of their life cycle. I would be interested in figuring out how to study them myself.


Well, is there a malacologist reading this who might like to respond?  Please contact jtatum at if you are interested.


Nearctula sp.  (Pul.: Vertiginidae)  Rosemary Jorna