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 (tatumjb352@gmail.com). 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 4

2016 September 3, morning

 

   Monthly butterfly walk, Sunday September 4.   All welcome.   Meet at the top of  Mount Tolmie, 1:00 p.m.

 

    Rosemary Jorna writes that the moth below was resting on the duff in her Kemp Lake garden yesterday morning.  It is a Large Yellow Underwing moth, a European species by now well established here.  The shape is quite characteristic.  Although the pattern and colour on the wings is very variable, and this is an extreme pale version, one can usually recognize the species by the double black spot near the apex – a feature that is very obvious in this example.

Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba (Lep.: Noctuidae)   Rosemary Jorna

September 2

2016 September 2

 

   Annie Pang sends a photograph of a hover fly (Syrphidae).  Many hover flies (also known as flower flies) are boldly and, one would think distinctively, marked, and one would think they would be easy to identify.  Unfortunately most specialists agree that they are not as easy to identify from photographs as one would think, and it is probably best to leave this one, beautifully marked as it is, as just a syrphid.

 

Hover fly (Dip.: Syrphidae)   Annie Pang

 

   On the August 29 posting, we mentioned a sighting on August 24 by Aziza Cooper, at Turkey Head, of a sulphur butterfly.  Some may wonder – as I did at first – how good a sighting it was.  In fact Aziza had a good close look, supplied excellent field notes, and took a photograph.  The photograph is probably not an award-winner, and probably wouldn’t reproduce well on this site, but we can confidently assure viewers that it really was a sulphur, and consequently we should be looking out for them right now!  Good luck!

August 29

2016 August 29

 

  Colias alert!  On August 24, Aziza Cooper saw a sulphur (exact species undetermined) on Gumweed at Turkey Head.

 

Jeff Gaskin reports a Western Tiger Swallowtail on Mount Tolmie, August 11, and, on August 12, also on Mount Tolmie, 1 Red Admiral, 1 West Coast Lady, and 1 Painted Lady.

 

Annie Pang found a spider weaving a web on the side-view mirror of her car on August 24.  Thanks to Robb Bennett for confirming its identification as Araneus diadematus

 

 

Araneus diadematus (Ara.: Araneidae)  Annie Pang

  

 

   Aziza Copper photographed the micro moth shown below near the Garcia reservoir on August 26.  Thanks to Libby Avis for identifying it as the Alfalfa Webworm Moth Loxostege cereralis.

 

Alfalfa Webworm Moth Loxostege cereralis (Lep.: Crambidae)  Aziza Cooper

   The name cereralis immediately raises a spelling question.  Surely this is a misspelling for cerealis ­ –  a spelling that is sometimes seen in the literature.   The definitive way to determine the correct spelling is supposed to be to go back to the original scientific description, and see what spelling the author used.  This is often easier said than done, and I didn’t manage to do it for this moth.  However, I found enough to convince myself that the cereralis spelling is the correct, or at least the preferred, spelling.  It is not named after what you eat for breakfast.  Rather, it is named for Ceres (genitive Cereris), the Goddess of Agriculture.

 

Thanks to Claudia Copley for identifying some recent photographs of grasshoppers and bush-crickets (katydids) that have been sent to Invertebrate Alert.  The first was photographed  recently by Paige Erickson-McGee.  Claudia writes that it is Melanoplus sp., and probably M. femurrubrum, the very common Red-legged Grasshopper.

 

 

Melanoplus (probably femurrubrum)  (Orth.: Acrididae)  Paige Erickson-McGee

 

Next is Meconema thalassinum, a bush-cricket, photographed by Cheryl Hoyle in Saanich on August 27.  Claudia remarks that this is non-native, and a very recent invader.

 

 Drumming Katydid Meconema thalassinum (Orth.: Tettigoniidae)  Cheryl Hoyle

 

Claudia has also identified Cheryl Hoyle’s grasshopper posted on August 5. Scroll down to that date to see the photograph and the identification.

 

 

 

August 28

2016 August 28

 

   Jeremy Tatum writes:   Back from holiday in England.  Sorry for the hiatus in Invert Alert, but we are ready to get going again.  On my first full day in Sussex, England, August 11, I saw 12 species of butterfly.  This made me feel guilty, because I had arranged a day out on August 13 with David Harris, Sussex butterfly enthusiast, and I was afraid that I had seen so many species that there wouldn’t have been any left for David to show me.  How wrong I was!  On August 13 he showed me an additional 14 species – so that was 26 species in two days!   Thank you, David Harris, for setting aside a whole day to go out a-butterflying with me!

 

Now back to Vancouver Island.  Just before I left, I inadvertently missed out an observation from Gordon Hart of a Grey Hairstreak in his Highlands garden, August 6.

 

On August 8 we posted photographs from Annie Pang of a brilliantly coloured halictid bee, Agapostemon texanus.  Annie’s photo was of a male, with a banded abdomen.  Aziza Cooper managed to get a quickie photo, at Swan Lake on August 8, of a very active female – whose abdomen is the same brilliant green as the head and thorax.

 

Female Agapostemon texanus (Hym.: Halictidae)

Aziza Cooper

 

Aziza also sends a photo of a caterpillar of the Spotted Tiger Moth from the railing of the wooden boardwalk at Swan Lake, August 22.

 

 Spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa maculata (Lep.: Erebidae- Arctiinae)  Aziza Cooper

   Liam Singh sends a photograph of a caterpillar of Cerisy’s Eyed Hawk Moth from Pedder Bay, August 22.

 

Cerisy’s Eyed Hawk Moth Smerinthus cerisyi (Lep.: Sphingidae)  Liam Singh

 

Helen Johnson sends a picture of the spectacular Banded Alder Borer from Willows Beach.  Thanks to Scott Gilmore for the identification.

 

Banded Alder Borer Rosalia funebris (Col.: Cerambycidae)  Helen Johnson

 

Jody Wells sends pictures of Woodland Skippers from Brentwood Bay

 

Woodland Skipper Ochlodes sylvanoides (Lep.: Hesperiidae) Jody Wells

 

   Woodland Skipper Ochlodes sylvanoides (Lep.: Hesperiidae) Jody Wells

  He also sends photographs of Large Heath (“Ringlet”) from Cordova Spit.

Large Heath Coenonympha tullia

(Lep.: Nymphalidae – Satyridae)

Jody Wells

Large Heath Coenonympha tullia (Lep.: Nymphalidae – Satyridae)
Jody Wells

   Aziza Cooper reports a Red Admiral and a Woodland Skipper from the tip of Sidney Island Spit, August 27.

 

We also have photos of grasshoppers and bush crickets waiting in the Invert Alert Inbox – but they will have to wait for another day, while we try to get them identified.

 

August 8

2016 August 8

 

HOLIDAY!

 

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Just a reminder that I’m going on holiday – to England – tomorrow, and consequently I shall not be running Invertebrate Alert until I get back on August 27.   By all means continue to send in observations and photographs during this time (but they will not be processed or posted until I get back), but please try and restrict yourselves to truly noteworthy observations and your best photographs, and try not to overwhelm me with oodles of photographs of our most frequently-photographed insects!

 

It will still be of interest, of course, to try and record the dates of the latest Lorquin’s Admiral and Western Tiger Swallowtails.  That reminds me that I saw a Lorquin’s Admiral at UVic today, shortly before I came into the office to type this posting.  And Jeff Gaskin reports a Western Tiger Swallowtail today from Gorge Park across from Millgrove Avenue.

 

Gordon Hart reports on yesterday’s (August 7) VNHS Butterfly Walk as follows:

Despite a cloudy start to the day, by 1 p.m. the sun had appeared and we saw our first butterfly on Mount Tolmie- the Anise Swallowtail around the fennel at the summit. [Jeremy Tatum remarks: The Anise Swallowtail is at least partially bivoltine, so it is quite possible that it may be thinking of laying eggs on the Fennel there.  Might be worth searching for.]   Two more butterfliers (Val George and Aziza Cooper) joined me and we went out to Island View Beach, where we found at least 10 Ringlets (Large Heaths) in the meadows along the way, and a total of 15-20 by the end of the trip. We did not find any Purplish Coppers so perhaps their season is over. We arrived at the spit by the sewage plant parking lot and saw lots of Woodland Skippers. We started looking at each skipper carefully. Val found the first Western Branded Skipper, I found one sunning on the path and Aziza found a third one nearby. These were all along the fence line on the way out to the tip of the spit in the general area where Steve Ansell and Val had seen them recently. The only other butterflies we saw were four Cabbage Whites.  Later, Aziza saw a Red Admiral back at Mount Tolmie.

 

Western Branded Skipper Hesperia colorado (Lep.: Hesperiidae)  Gordon Hart

Western Branded Skipper Hesperia colorado (Lep.: Hesperiidae)  Aziza Cooper

   Aziza adds:  Sand Wasps with banded abdomens were common on Gumweed north of Island View Beach.

 

Sand Wasp Bembix americana (Hym.: Crabronidae – Bembicinae) Aziza Cooper

   Jeremy Tatum writes:  I recently had a little discussion with Sean McCann about the spelling of BembixBembix, Bembex and Bembyx are all to be seen, and each of these spellings could be defended as the “correct” one.   Current usage, at least in North America, seems to favour Bembix.

 

 

Annie Pang sends a photograph of a colourful male sweat bee (Halictidae) from Gorge Park, August 7, identified by Annie as Agapostemon texanus.

 

Agapostemon texanus (Hym.: Halictidae)   Annie Pang

 Agapostemon texanus (Hym.: Halictidae)   Annie Pang