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.

2014 December 04

The introduced European Winter Moth Operophtera brumata is usually a rather featureless grey (like the November 10 photograph), although some specimens can be quite well patterned. I think the European one is the one most often (almost exclusively?) seen in Victoria. The native Bruce’s Winter Moth O. bruceata (which Bill Katz and Jeremy Tatum have found at Goldstream Park), is usually well patterned. Annie Pang sends a photo of a winter moth from her kitchen window in Victoria. Although it is well patterned, Jeremy Tatum and Jeremy Gatten believe that this is a European Winter Moth O. brumata.

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Winter Moth Operophtera brumata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Annie Pang

September to December 2014

2014 December 12

Jeremy Tatum writes:

The current (Winter 2014) issue of BC Nature includes an article in which it is proposed to introduce large numbers of European butterflies (such as Peacock and Map butterflies) to Salt Spring Island. These are to be obtained from a commercial supplier in England, known as World Wide Butterflies. The proposed butterflies include Painted Ladies which have been “specially designed” and have been artificially reared for generations on Stinging Nettles, which are not their usual foodplant here. The author is applying for a permit from Parks Canada.

This site would welcome short comments. Some viewers might also want to send comments to BC Nature or perhaps also to Parks Canada.

The article is illustrated with photographs of three butterflies. One is our native Milbert’s Tortoiseshell. Another is the Peacock butterfly, well known in Britain. The third is labelled “Red Admiral”. Viewers of this site who have seen the article will recognize that this is not the Vanessa atalanta commonly known here and in Britain as the Red Admiral, and may wonder what the illustrated butterfly is. It is in fact Vanessa gonerilla, a New Zealand endemic, known there as the New Zealand Red Admiral.

2014 December 04

The introduced European Winter Moth Operophtera brumata is usually a rather featureless grey (like the November 10 photograph), although some specimens can be quite well patterned. I think the European one is the one most often (almost exclusively?) seen in Victoria. The native Bruce’s Winter Moth O. bruceata (which Bill Katz and Jeremy Tatum have found at Goldstream Park), is usually well patterned. Annie Pang sends a photo of a winter moth from her kitchen window in Victoria. Although it is well patterned, Jeremy Tatum and Jeremy Gatten believe that this is a European Winter Moth O. brumata.

Winter Moth Operophtera brumata (Lep.: Geometridae) Annie Pang

2014 November 28

Winter Moths are abundant everywhere now. I have been seeing clouds of the flying males in my car’s headlamps at night. Here is a flightless female from my Saanich apartment on November 25. We have had some spectacular creatures on this site. This is perhaps one of the less spectacular ones. Jeremy Tatum

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

2014 November22

No recent reports of interesting invertebrates, but Aziza Cooper writes:

Hi Jeremy, Mike Yip was kind enough to give me a copy of his and James Miskelly’s’ lovely new book: Vancouver Island Butterflies. He writes that he’s had some enthusiastic comments from Norbert Kondla, Cris Guppy and Dr. David James.

I’ll add my own comment: this book is a must for local butterfly chasers, and I’m already looking forward to chasing some of the more elusive species next year.

The book is available now in several Victoria bookstores: Munro’s, Bolen and Ivy’s, and Tanners in Sidney as well as at Victoria Camera Repair.

It would be nice if you could mention it on the InvertAlert. I’ll understand if you don’t feel it’s appropriate to post an ad for Mike’s book, but I would really like to support his efforts. The book is the only book on Vancouver Island butterflies. I’m sure your readers would be interested, and it would make a great Christmas gift.

Jeremy comments: I’ve already asked Santa to get me one for Christmas. I hope I’ve been good during most of the year.

2014 November 14

Aziza Cooper writes:  While looking for the Cattle Egret in Vic West on November 10, I had two sightings of Cabbage White. The first was at the east end of the Johnson Street bridge, flying past ornamental trees at the Wharf Street and Johnson Street intersection. The second may have been a different individual. It was at the Cattle Egret location near the Bayview condo towers. It was on the green space between the condos and the railroad tracks, west of Tyee Road. These are the latest butterflies I’ve seen in Victoria.

2014 November 10

Winter Moth season has arrived. Jeremy Tatum photographed the first one he has seen this season at his Saanich apartment on November 10. They will probably be seen everywhere on a daily basis from now on during November and December.

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

Gordon Hart writes: I saw the bug in the pictures below on November 5 at Viaduct Flats on the viewing platform. With the continuing warm weather, I saw a large Aeshna dragonfly – probably a Paddle-Tailed Darner A. palmata – on November 5 at Viaduct Flats, and again on November 6, at home during a sunny break. I guess they will continue until we have a cold spell.

Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis (Hem.: Coreidae) Gordon Hart


2014 November 6

   Aziza Cooper sends a picture of Erannis vancouverensis on the glass of her back door at Brighton Avenue and Foul Bay.  Very similar to Bill Katz’s November 2 photo – also on the glass of his back door!   The more I look at these moths, the more I am convinced that there really is no such animal as Erannis vancouverensis, and the moth is in fact, like the Winter Moth, a European invader, namely the Mottled Umber Erannis defoliaria.

Jeremy Tatum

Erannis vancouverensis (Lep.: Geometridae) Aziza Cooper

   We are by now well past summer, but it is still possible to find caterpillars.  Jeremy Tatum found this one at Martindale Flats on November 1.  Another European invader!

Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 November 1

Mike Yip writes: My books [see October 22 Invert Alert for a notice about Mike’s book on V.I. butterflies] arrived early and I’m delivering down your way on Nov. 3. Munro’s, Bolen, and Tanners are all on board, and I have about a dozen orders from various individuals.

Bill Katz writes: An Erannis vancouverensis on our building front door, my first of the season, is greeting Hallowe’en visitors on Summit Hill.


Erannis vancouverensis (Lep.:Geometridae) Bill Katz

Jeremy Tatum found the spider below at Swan Lake on October 29. Robb Bennett, who kindly identified it, writes: Your beast is one of BC’s half dozen or so mygalomorphs. A male of Antrodiaetus pacificus. One of my personal favourites!

In case anyone is wondering what a mygalomorph is, the Mygalomorphae are a suborder of spiders characterized by downward-pointing chelicerae, including funnelweb, trapdoor, and purseweb spiders. The Antrodiaetidae are trapdoor spiders. They are very appropriate animals to see at Hallowe’en.


Antrodiaetus pacificus (Ara.: Antrodiaetidae) Jeremy Tatum

Jeremy continues: The two animals shown below, photographed in my Saanich apartment in the last few days, are members of the Order Thysanura (three-pronged bristletails), Family Lepismatidae (silverfish and firebrats). Both are firebrats. The first is the Common Firebrat Thermobia domestica. The second might possibly be a colour variety of the same animal, but I believe it is more likely a different species, namely the Grey Firebrat Ctenolepisma longicaudata. While interesting, they were uninvited guests in my apartment and were beginning to make themselves unwelcome. Who will rid me of this turbulent animal? (That’s a misquotation from Henry II.) The answer is Marlin Smyth, whom many of you will know, and who is an experienced professional. He came to rid me of them yesterday morning, and I haven’t seen any since.


Common Firebrat Thermobia domestica (Thy.: Lepismatidae) Jeremy Tatum


Grey Firebrat Ctenolepisma longicaudata (Thy.: Lepismatidae) Jeremy Tatum

Although the butterfly season is winding down, there are still lots of other terrestrial invertebrates to see, such as the slug below, Limax maximus, from the Martindale Valley, November 1. It is variously known as the Great Grey Slug or the Giant Garden Slug. These slugs mate by wrapping themselves around each other and writhing while suspended from a rope of slime.


Limax maximus (Pul.: Limacidae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 October 28

Aziza Cooper writes: On October 21, a  Cabbage White was at the Orange Sulphur location along Martindale Road, north across from the kiwi farm. This is one of the more likely places to find one to try and extend the butterfly season into November! Thanks to Claudia Copley for identifying a grasshopper that Aziza photographed in August. We’ll let viewers scroll down to September 5 to see what it was!

Cabbage White Pieris rapae (Lep.: Pieridae) Aziza Cooper

Jeremy Tatum sends a photograph of Cucullia montanae from Island View Beach, October 23. It wears a hood (Latin Cucullus) over its head.

Cucullia montanae (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

Gordon Hart found a geometrid on October 9, but so far we have not been able to identify it. Suggestions welcome.

Unknown geometrid – Gordon Hart

Jeremy Tatum photographed a spider in his Saanich apartment building on October 25.
He writes: You can patiently explain to me all day that they are perfectly harmless, but I’m still scared of them! Robb Bennett writes: It’s a female gnaphosid, probably the introduced Palaearctic species Scotophaeus blackwalli. That species is common in various parts of the world but is a relatively recent introduction here. Robb also points out that other gnaphosid genera, such as Gnaphosa, Zelotes and Drassylus, also look somewhat similar – hence the “probably” Scotophaeus blackwalli. These other genera, he writes, are less likely to be found indoors than Scotophaeus blackwalli.


Probably Scotophaeus blackwalli (Ara.: Gnaphosidae) Jeremy Tatum


Jeremy also photographed a caddisfly in the building. There is usually an expert in any obscure subject out there somewhere – so is there someone who can identify the caddisfly for us?

Caddisfly (Trichoptera) Jeremy Tatum

2014 October 22

Mike Yip writes that his book VANCOUVER ISLAND BUTTERFLIES is currently at the printers in Altona, Manitoba and should be available by Nov. 7. Mike is the principal author and photographer, and James Miskelly collaborated with the updated distribution maps for all 70 species on the Island list. The book is full colour, hard cover, 128 pages, and will be available in some bookstores (Munro’s and Tanners so far) for $34.95 plus GST. However, naturalists and butterfly enthusiasts can get their copies for $25 each if someone is willing to collect cheques, make a group order, and hold the books for pick up. Email Mike if anyone is interested (

Jeff Gaskin writes: On October the 21st, there were two Cabbage Whites along Maddock Avenue at Qu’appelle Avenue. [Only a few more days now before November – can we extend the butterfly season into that month? – Jeremy Tatum]

At last we have managed to identify the caterpillars found by Gwen Greenwood (2011 November 11) and Bud Logan (2012 October 12). On October 19 Jeremy Gatten found a similar one in Devonian Park and he found a description (no picture!) of it in a 1958 Proceedings of the Entomological Society of British Columbia. It is Lophocampa roseata.

Lophocampa roseata (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae) Jeremy Gatten


Jeremy Gatten also found two individuals of Orthosia mys at his Saanichton house a few days ago. It is of interest to compare this moth with photographs of the somewhat similar Orthosia transparens which appeared on this site for 2011 April 6 and 24, and 2013 March 30.

Orthosia mys (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Gatten

Orthosia mys (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Gatten

2014 October 20

Jeremy Tatum reports a Cabbage White from Island View Road on October 19. I wonder if we can extend the butterfly season into November?

Jeremy shows a photograph of a White-lined Hawk Moth from Martindale Flats, October 19.

White-lined Hawk Moth Hyles lineata (Lep.: Sphingidae) Jeremy Tatum

Gordon Hart writes: We saw one Cabbage White in the Highlands today October 18, and one day-flying moth. I think it is Autographa californica as per your book ( and Bill Katz’s picture of September 23. [See also Aziza Cooper’s of August 9 – Jeremy.] It landed first on some yellow chrysanthemums and then on dandelions. Your book says it is migratory but I’m afraid this one won’t be going anywhere. Just as I was framing another shot, a junco swooped in and grabbed it for a snack. Jeremy Tatum responds: Yes, Bill Savale and I also saw several Cabbage Whites in the Vantreight Central Saanich fields on October 18, as well as an equally incautious Autographa californica. It was so intent on nectaring on Raphanus that it allowed me to catch it in a jar to verify the identification, before releasing it.


Autographa californica (Lep.: Noctuidae) Gordon Hart

Bill Katz writes: The walls of the Goldstream Nature House were a moth paradise on Saturday morning, October 18. I identified Epirrita autumnata and Tetracis jubararia [also known as Synaxis jubarariaJeremy].


Autumnal Moth Epirrita autumnata (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

Autumnal Moth Epirrita autumnata (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz


October Thorn Tetracis jubararia (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

2014 October 17

Daniel Dönnecke sends a photograph of a yellow underwing moth Noctua sp. from Swan Lake, October 16. The clear absence of a dark crescent in the middle of the hindwing shows that it is in fact the Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba rather than the somewhat similar Lesser Yellow Underwing Noctua comes.

Viewers may also notice a bird in the photograph. It is a Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus (Pas.: Tyrannidae).

Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba (Lep.: Noctuidae) Daniel Dönnecke

2014 October 15

Jeremy Tatum saw a Cabbage White outside his Saanich apartment on October 11.
He found another Autographa californica caterpillar, at Martindale Flats, October 12, feeding upon Raphanus. And there are lots of Isabella caterpillars (Banded Woolly Bears) around, especially at Panama Flats and Swan Lake, where the one below was found.

Autographa californica (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

Banded Woolly Bear Pyrrharctia isabella (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae) Jeremy Tatum

These caterpillars are very attractive and visible at this time of year, and I dare say some viewers may be tempted to keep one to see what sort of moth eventually emerges. This is an interesting thing to do, but maybe it is worth knowing, for those who haven’t reared many moths from caterpillars, that Pyrrharctia isabella is not an easy caterpillar to rear – indeed one might say it is one of the more difficult ones – and perhaps not to be recommended for a first attempt. One problem is that it will not pupate until about next March, and it won’t eclode until May, so you’d have to look after it all winter. You may be able to find one outside in February – and then they are much easier. If you are curious to see what the adult looks like, there are photographs on this site for May 25, 2010 and 2012. May 25 seems to be a good date to find the adult!

Caterpillars are not the only things that creep and crawl.. Here is a slug from the garden of my apartment, October 11.

Arion subfuscus (Pul.: Arionidae) Jeremy Tatum


Bill Katz sends a photograph of an October Thorn Synaxis jubararia [also known as Tetracis jubararia – I’m not sure what its name is this year — Jeremy] from his productive Summit Hill garage.

October Thorn Tetracis jubararia (Lep.:Geometridae) Bill Katz

2014 October 10

Jeff Gaskin writes: There were over 10 Banded Woolly Bears at Panama Flats on Tuesday October 7. Last year, if I recall, there was a huge number of Banded Woolly Bears here too. [Yes – that’s what I remember, too. – Jeremy]

There are other caterpillars still to be found. The one shown below was found at McMicking Point on October 5. It is Autographa californica. It is a plusiine. That is to say it belongs to the subfamily Plusiinae of the family Noctuidae. The caterpillars of most plusiines are “semi-loopers”. They have only two pairs of mid-abdominal prolegs rather than the usual four.

Autographa californica (Lep.: Noctuidae – Plusiinae) Jeremy Tatum


Jeremy Tatum writes: Here are two moths from my Saanich apartment on October 10. One is the abundant European Large Yellow Underwing. The other is a species of Drepanulatrix. I have had difficulties with the identification of Drepanulatrix moths before and I may have to revisit previous images of this genus in the Website. However, I am pretty sure the moth shown below is Drepanulatrix monicaria, although, strangely, this species does not appear to be on the Lafontaine/Troubridge list for Canada, at least not under this name.

Noctua pronuba (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

Drepanulatrix monicaria (Lep.: Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 October 7

Val George writes: Here is another nice fresh Painted Lady, this one seen at Cattle Point, October 7, with the Tuesday birding group. I got a photo of this one.

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Val George

Jeremy Tatum writes that there were still lots of Cabbage Whites around on October 6. The caterpillar season isn’t quite over yet. October is the month to see caterpillars of the Banded Woolly Bear – I saw several at Swan Lake on October 6. And I spotted an interesting caterpillar, shown below, below on Cornus stolonifera at Swan Lake on October 5. The sharply contrasting colours disguise the (already weird) shape of the caterpillar. This is called disruptive coloration.

Unicorn Prominent Schizura unicornis (Lep.: Notodontidae)
Jeremy Tatum

2014 October 4

Val George writes: On October 1 there was a Painted Lady near Willows Beach in Oak Bay. It looked to be in very fresh condition. That’s the fourth Painted Lady reported from the Greater Victoria area since September 21. All have been reported as in fresh condition.

Jeremy Tatum sends photographs, both taken on October 3, of two moths new to this site. The first, from his Saanich apartment, is a White-speck Moth Mythimna unipuncta (formerly known as Pseudaletia unipuncta, and, before that, as Leucania unipuncta.) The caterpillar is known to agriculturists as the Army Worm and in some places it apparently occurs in huge numbers and can be destructive to crops. Jeremy writes: I have rarely seen the moth here, and I have yet to find the caterpillar. For a time, he continues, I was sure the second moth, from Swan Lake, was a notodontid – perhaps Schizura or Oligocentria. But it isn’t – it’s a noctuid, which looks very like a notodontid. That big reniform stigma (that’s Latin and Greek for kidney-shaped spot) gives it away as a noctuid.. It is in fact the noctuid Lithomoia germana, the American Brindle. If Schizura imitates a stick, does Lithomoia imitate Schizura imitating a stick? Is it an example of convergent evolution?

White-speck Mythimna unipuncta (Lep.: Noctuidae)
Jeremy Tatum

American Brindle Lithomoia germana (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 October 01

Butterflies may be getting scarce, but there are still lots of other invertebrates to see, such as this slug that Jeremy Tatum photographed at Mount Douglas Beach Park today.

Reticulated Tail-dropper Prophysaon andersonii (Pul.: Anadeniidae) Jeremy Tatum


Jeremy Tatum reports a Painted Lady from Iron Mine Bay, September 28. He shows an Apple-and-Thorn Skeletonizer moth, which came from the caterpillar shown on September 18.

Apple-and-Thorn Skeletonizer Choreutis pariana
(Lep.: Choreutidae)
Jeremy Tatum

2014 September 27

The butterfly season is drawing to a close, but there are still a few surprises. Jeremy Tatum reports a Lorquin’s Admiral from Swan Lake, and Ken Vaughan photographed a Painted Lady at Esquimalt Lagoon, both on September 27. There are still a few Cabbage Whites around. Who is going to see the last one?

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Ken Vaughan

Bill Katz sends a picture of a beautiful noctuid moth (new to this site) from Goldstream, and a spectacular coreid bug from Swan Lake.

Agrochola purpurea (Lep.: Noctuidae) Bill Katz

Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis (Hem.: Coreidae)
Bill Katz

Val George sends a couple of photos from Island View Beach, September 25: a Western Black Widow, Latrodectus hesperus (also new to this site) and a Banded Woolly Bear (Isabella Moth) Pyrrharctia isabella.

Western Black Widow Latrodectus hesperus (Ara.: Theridiidae) Val George

Banded Woolly Bear Pyrrharctia isabella (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae) Val George

2014 September 23

Gordon Hart sends photographs from the Highlands of Noctua pronuba and Nepytia phantasmaria. The former is a European invader, which has rapidly become one of our most familiar moths in Victoria. Its caterpillar feeds on many low-growing plants, especially those that you are trying to grow in your garden. The caterpillar of the latter is a conifer-feeder.

Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba (Lep.: Noctuidae) Gordon Hart

Nepytia phantasmaria (Lep.: Geometridae) Gordon Hart

Goldstream Park is very productive for moths at the moment – especially around the Nature House. Bill Katz photographed an interesting caterpillar on September 20. David Wagner identified this one for us as a species of Zale. It is most likely Z. lunata. The brown colour probably indicates that it is shortly going to pupate.

Zale (probably lunata) (Lep.: Erebidae -Erebinae) Bill Katz

Next is Papaipema insulidens, whose caterpillar is a stem-borer in ragwort.

Papaipema insulidens (Lep.: Noctuidae) Bill Katz

Next is a more familiar moth, the day-flying Autographa californica.


Autographa californica (Lep.: Noctuidae) Bill Katz

And now Lithophane pertorrida, which is interesting, because it was shown previously on this site on April 3 of this year. This may be a species that overwinters in the adult state and hence can be found is spring and in fall.

Lithophane pertorrida (Lep.: Noctuidae) Bill Katz


And Bill got one more interesting moth from Finnerty Gardens at UVic on September 20. Thanks to Libby Avis for identifying it for us as Pleromelloida cinerea.

Pleromelloida cinerea (Lep.: Noctuidae) Bill Katz

Jeremy Tatum writes: Here is a Heliothis phloxiphaga from Gumweed at Island View Beach, and a micro, Oreana unicolorella from willow at Munn Road. The caterpillars of these species are shown on the postings for August 22 and September 18 respectively.

Heliothis phloxiphaga (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

Oreana unicolorella (Lep.: Pyralidae) Jeremy Tatum

Jeremy Tatum writes that he went to Martindale Road on September 21 to see if there were still any Orange Sulphurs there. He didn’t see any, but it might still be worth trying. He did see a pristine fresh Painted Lady there, next to the same corn square where the sulphurs had been. And Aziza Cooper reports that a Mourning Cloak flew by the VNHS barbecue at the Aylard Farm parking lot on September 20.


2014 September 20

Saturday, September 20 to Sunday September 28
Victoria Butterfly Count

We are always looking for keen-eyed volunteers to submit butterfly records. If you would like to participate, please contact Aziza Cooper at tanageraz at

Annie Pang sends a poetogram of Neoalcis californiaria from the Gorge area.

Neoalcis californiaria (Lep.: Geometridae) Annie Pang

Jeremy Tatum sends a photograph of a bug found in his Saanich apartment, September 19, and a caterpillar found on Hardhack at Swan Lake, September 20. He writes that on September 20 he saw a Purplish Copper and several Cabbage Whites on the East Saanich Indian Reserve.


Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis (Hem.: Coreidae)
Jeremy Tatum

Rheumaptera undulata (Lep.: Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 September 18

Libby Avis writes: I found a Cisseps fulvicollis, Yellow-collared Scape Moth, at Little Qualicum Estuary September 15th.

Jeremy Tatum comments. This is one of the most striking of the tribe Lithosiini of moths variously known as scape moths or footman moths. The caterpillars (I have never found one!) feed on lichens.

Yellow-collared Scape Moth Cisseps fulvicollis
(Erebidae – Arctiinae – Lithosiini)
Libby Avis

Yellow-collared Scape Moth Cisseps fulvicollis
(Erebidae – Arctiinae – Lithosiini)
Libby Avis

Jeremy Tatum writes: Here is the moth Lacanobia subjuncta from Beckwith Park in Saanich, September 16. Thanks to Libby for the identification.

Lacanobia subjuncta (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum


Guy Monty sends photos of a Catocala. He writes: On the evening of September 14, 2014, there were about two dozen of them fluttering around our porch lights here in Moorecroft Regional Park, Nanoose Bay.

Jeremy Tatum responds: We are not sure what species it is. You’d think a striking species like this would be easy, but Catocala is a large genus with lots of similar-looking species. Discussions have included as possibilities Catocala aholibah, allusa, semirelicta, unijuga. Who knows? For the time being we’d better settle for Catocala sp.

Catocala sp.(Lep.: Erebidae – Erebinae – Catocalini) Guy Monty

Catocala sp.(Lep.: Erebidae – Erebinae – Catocalini) Guy Monty

Jody Wells writes: I saw this remarkable butterfly on my property on West Saanich Road earlier this summer (1st or 2nd August). It was gorgeous blue on the upperside of the wings, and although it flew around landing on this same spot a few times I couldn’t get a shot showing colour. I’m not sure if this is a common species or not. I do not recall ever having seen this large beautiful butterfly in the 35 years I have lived in Greater Victoria.
Jeremy Tatum responds: Glad you mentioned the blue on the upperside, otherwise I would have been stumped. This is Morpho peleides, which occurs in Costa Rica and at the Butterfly Gardens in Central Saanich! Looks as though it had made a break for it.

Morpho peleides (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Jody Wells.

Reid and Susan Gurney write from Fanny Bay in the Comox Valley: Here is a large caterpillar (approx. three inches long by one half inch wide) which we saw on our lawn one week ago. Jeremy Tatum writes: It is the caterpillar of the Polyphemus Moth. Viewers can keep a look out for this spectacular creature just now, when most of them are full grown,

Polyphemus Moth Antheraea polyphemus (Lep.: Saturniidae)
Reid and Susan Gurney

And now for some micros. We are much indebted to Eric LaGasa for identifying them.
First a small moth, several of which have been outside Jeremy Tatum’s Saanich apartment in recent days. It is a European species, Acleris rhombana, apparently known in North America only from British Columbia. Bill Katz photographed one for Invert Alert on October 18, 2013.

Acleris rhombana (Lep.: Tortricidae) Jeremy Tatum


Next, two well-marked micro caterpillars. The first was on Salix at Munn Road. It is probably Oreana unicolorella. The second was on Malus at Witty’s Lagoon. It is the Apple-and-Thorn Skeletonizer Choreutis pariana.

Oreana unicolorella (Lep.: Pyralidae) Jeremy Tatum

Choreutis pariana (Lep.: Choreutidae) Jeremy Tatum


2014 September 16

There still seem to be a few Pine Whites around, especially in the Sooke/Metchosin area. Jeff Gaskin writes that there was one at Whiffin Spit and one seen along Sooke Road rear Gillespie Road on September 13. Jeremy Tatum saw several on September 14 at Swanwick Road and at Pearson College, Metchosin. Some were high up in the trees; others were nectaring near ground level on thistles and hawkbits.

Val George writes: This morning, Sept 14, a Sulphur butterfly flew in front of my car as I was driving along Oak Bay Ave. Needless to say, I couldn’t identify the species.

Annie Pang sends a photograph of a noctuid moth from the Gorge area, September 12. Thanks to Libby Avis for identifying it as Homorthodes communis.

Homorthodes communis (Lep.: Noctuidae) Annie Pang

Jeremy Tatum sends a photograph of Tetracis jubararia from Bow Park, Saanich, September 15.

Synaxis jubararia (Lep.: Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 September 13
Libby Avis writes from Port Alberni: Just checked the VNHS site and see you have a post for Neoarctia brucei from Campbell River. We were particularly interested because Rick photographed two of them on Mt Adder, near Sutton Pass, between Ucluelet and Port Alberni, on August 1. Haven’t seen one before, so maybe this is a good year for them.

Neoarctia brucei (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae) Rick Avis

Libby continues: I was wondering if you have any ideas on a couple of caterpillars from earlier in the year. The first one was found in our yard on August 20th and looks as if it might be a Lasiocampidae. The red markings behind the head are similar to Phyllodesma americana, although the other markings are the wrong colour. [Jeremy Tatum comments – I agree. I’m sure it’s Phyllodesma americana, though I’ve never seen one with those markings or colours – apart from the red rings on the thorax, which look typical.]
The second was found on Purple Loosestrife on the Somass Estuary on June 20th. I posted it on Bug Guide and got a suggestion back that it was perhaps an Egira. [Jeremy comments: I think it is a noctuid, and I agree that it is probably an early instar of a species of Egira, perhaps E. crucialis.]

Probably Phyllodesma americana (Lep.: Lasiocampidae) Libby Avis

Perhaps Egira crucialis (Lep.: Noctuidae) Libby Avis

Jeremy Tatum shows a photograph of a Neoalcis californiariafrom his Saanich apartment this morning (September 13), and a pupa of Hyles lineata.

Neoalcis californiaria (Lep.: Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

White-lined Hawk Moth Hyles lineata (Lep.: Sphingidae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 September 10

Half-a-dozen VNHS members gathered for a butterfly-watching outing on Sunday September 7. This late in the season, expectations were not high, but it was a beautiful warm, sunny and windless day, so we thought we’d give it a try. We had two target species – the Orange Sulphurs that had been at Martindale Road for several days, and an outside chance of a Purplish Copper at Island View Beach. We got them both, including both sexes of the sexually dimorphic Purplish Coppers. In addition we saw a few of the expected Woodland Skippers and Cabbage Whites. Birdwatching and botanizing were, of course, strictly prohibited, and participants were well-behaved except for one understandable diversion for a brief sneak view of a spectacular plant, albeit a foreign weed, at Martindale, namely an Apple of Peru Nicandra physalodes (Solanaceae). A successful and enjoyable outing!

Also on September 7, Aziza Cooper found several Purplish Coppers on the East Saanich Indian reserve, and she took several photographs to illustrate their variability. The Purplish Copper is the most sexually dimorphic of our local butterflies, and the two sexes look almost like different species. Aziza’s first photograph, below, is a male. He is the one who shows a purplish sheen, but only when viewed at certain angles, and only when he is very fresh. Aziza’s second photo is a fresh female. To add to the complications, her third photo shows a rather worn female whose colours have much faded.

Slightly worn male Purplish Copper Lycaena helloides (Lep.: Lycaenidae)
Aziza Cooper

Fresh female Purplish Copper Lycaena helloides (Lep.: Lycaenidae)
Aziza Cooper

Slightly worn female Purplish Copper Lycaena helloides (Lep.: Lycaenidae)
Aziza Cooper

Jeremy Tatum writes: On August 19 I posted an image of a Hypena caterpillar from nettle at Royal Roads University. The moth emerged on September 7 (photo below) – but I still don’t know what species it is. You can see, however, why these moths are called “snout” moths.

Snout moth Hypena sp. (Lep.: Erebidae – Hypeninae) Jeremy Tatum

Here are two colour varieties of the Yellow Woolly Bear (Virginia Ermine). The yellow one was found by Jeremy Tatum at King’s Pond, and the brown one by Jeff Gaskin and Barb McGrenere at McIntyre reservoir.


Yellow Woolly Bear Spilosoma virginica (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae)
Jeremy Tatum

Yellow Woolly Bear Spilosoma virginica (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae)
Barb McGrenere


And here is a caterpillar of Cucullia montanae from Grindelia at Island View Beach.

Cucullia montanae (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum


2014 September 7

Mike and Barb McGrenere report that an Orange Sulphur flew over Tsehum Harbour on September 4. Val George and Jeremy Tatum saw several still at the Martindale location (see August 25 posting) on September 6. Here is Val’s photo of one of the Orange Sulphurs. It may be of interest to compare the markings on the undersides of the hindwings of this and other recent photos (Aziza’s of August 25, and Wendy’s of August 22) with what the books say they ought to be, and to decide whether these markings are useful (or otherwise!) in species identification.

Orange Sulphur Colias eurytheme (Lep.: Pieridae) Val George

Yellow Woolly Bears are much in evidence just now. Val found one on September 6 near the Orange Sulphur location, and Jeremy found one at King’s Pond the previous day.

Leo Dönnecke found a nice moth on Crest Mountain near Campbell River on August 31.  It is Bruce’s Tiger Moth – a moth of mountainous alpine meadows in western North America.  His dad Daniel managed to get a photograph.

Bruce’s Tiger Moth Neoarctia brucei (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae) Daniel Dönnecke


Although the next photo is a few weeks old, I thought it was worth including, because it shows what is apparently an unusual foodplant for Hyles lineata. The usual foodplant is Epilobium, but this one is on quite unrelated Abronia. It is not a final instar, so it is not a case of a fully-fed caterpillar wandering off its foodplant to find somewhere to pupate, and it looks likely (though we can’t be absolutely certain) that it was using Abronia as a foodplant. The photograph was obtained by Morgan Davies on Sidney Island, where the species is apparently not uncommon, on July 2.

Hyles lineata (Lep.: Sphingidae) Morgan Davies

Bill Katz sends recent photos of two moths from his productive garage on Summit Hill.
I’m putting “probably” before the labels. I am pretty sure that they are correct, but I cannot be 100 percent certain. Opinions welcome!

Probably Acleris fragariana (Lep.: Tortricidae)
Bill Katz

Probably Epirrita autumnata (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

2014 September 5

In spite of the record-breaking rainfall the other day, there were still a few Orange Sulphurs at Martindale Road on September 4. See August 25 posting for details of the exact location.

Butterflies may be winding down for the season, but there are still lots of other insects around, especially grasshoppers of several species. Here is a photo of a Two-striped Grasshopper, photographed by Aziza Cooper from Uplands Park, August 28, and kindly identified for us by Claudia Copley.

Two-striped Grasshopper Melanoplus bivittatus (Orth.: Acrididae) Aziza Cooper

On September 1 Jeremy Tatum saw a Purplish Copper at McIntyre reservoir. Also at McIntyre reservoir he saw his first Isabella caterpillar (Banded Woolly Bear) of the fall. October is their best month, but this one must have been taking an early stroll.

Yellow Woolly Bears seem to be making themselves conspicuous just now. Here is a photo of one by Val George, Puckle Road, Central Saanich, September 1.

Yellow Woolly Bear (Virginia Ermine) Spilosoma virginica (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae)
Val George

Another woolly bear that is conspicuous at the time of year is the Spotted Tiger Moth. Here is a photo of one taken by Natalie Skinner in Gordon Head.

Spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa maculata (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae) Natalie Skinner


Bill Katz writes: Eva and I were at Goldstream on September 1 and we found an abundance of moths at the Nature House. These are Ipimorpha nanaimo, Lithophane innominata and Lambdina fiscellaria (Hemlock Looper).

Ipimorpha nanaimo (Lep.: Noctuidae) Bill Katz

Lithophane innominata (Lep.: Noctuidae) Bill Katz

Lambdina fiscellaria (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz


Morgan Davies sends a photograph of a moth seen on Sidney Island Spit on June 16. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I believe it is Euxoa auxiliaris. (Jeremy Tatum)

Maybe Euxoa auxiliaris (Lep.: Noctuidae) Morgan Davies

2014 September 1

 Gordon Hart sends a picture of the caterpillar of Acronicta dactylina, August 29. This is one of a large genus of moths that look very similar in the adult stage, but the caterpillars are both spectacular and varied. The adult moths carry a dagger-like marking on their forewing, which is obvious in some species, and less obvious in others. The genus on the whole are known as “dagger” moths. Although many of them, like dactylina, are furry, they are not at all related to the “woolly bear” caterpillars.

Acronicta dactylina (Lep.: Noctuidae) Gordon Hart

Annie Pang sends recent photos of a variety of insects. If someone can identify the grasshopper, please let us know. The fly might be Lucilia sp. (greenbottle). The stage of development of the maggots of some species enable forensic scientists to determine how long a body has been dead. Some doctors use the maggots for treating infected tissue in injured patients. Apparently it is often quite successful. Some species lay their eggs in the nostrils of frogs and toads – but I don’t think anyone will want to know what happens next. The Leafcutter Bee can be recognized in that it gathers pollen on the underside of its abdomen rather than on its legs like a Honey Bee.

Grasshopper (Orth.: Acrididae) Annie Pang

Blow Fly, possibly Lucilia sp. (Dip.: Calliphoridae) Annie Pang

Leafcutter Bee Megachile sp. (Hym.: Megachilidae) Annie Pang

Bill Katz sends a photo of a caddisfly from Goldstream Park, and the moth Xanthorhoe defensaria from the Interfaith Chapel at Finnerty Gardens.

Caddisfly (Trichoptera) Bill Katz

Xanthorhoe defensaria (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

Mike McGrenere writes: I was cycling in the Martindale/Island View area today (Aug 29) and was able to see two Sulphur butterflies. The first was along Welch Road north of Martindale Road where there is a corn field. Gerry Ansell had two there a while ago and there was still one there today along with Cabbage Whites. The butterflies like the flowering plants along the edge of the corn field.

The second one was in a new location. It was along the west side of McIntyre Reservoir. The butterfly flew out of the weedy onion field as I was walking along the farm road and it disappeared into the dry grass/weeds on the edge of the reservoir. I am assuming that this was an Orange Sulphur like the others in this general area but I did not get any field marks except for the yellow colour and erratic flight. The number of Cabbage Whites was down considerably from last week with only two along the reservoir. I saw two other butterflies which I think were a Purplish Copper and a Mylitta Crescent.

Jeremy Tatum writes that on August 30 between Island View Beach and Cordova Spit he saw several Purplish Coppers, Large Heaths (regular viewers of this site will know that I am referring to the so-called “ringlet”) and Woodland Skippers. The Purplish Coppers, male and female, were looking pristine fresh, while the Large Heaths were, shall we say, somewhat past the first fresh flush of youth.

Here are two colour varieties of the Spotted Tiger Moth caterpillar (Ken Strothcamp would welcome all photos of this species), and what I think is the final instar of the White-lined Hawk Moth caterpillar, earlier instars of which we have seen on August 25 and 29. It truly is a most spectacular animal. It is about the size of my middle finger.

June – July 2014

2014 July 30

Some of us are noticing how very scarce butterflies of any sort are flying just now. Even Tiger Swallowtails, Lorquin’s Admirals and Pine Whites seem to be scarce. The best bet for butterflies is to look at the very summits of some of our local hills after six in the evening to see Painted Ladies. But have a look at the July 14 entry for further suggestions. There are several species of butterfly that have not been mentioned in this year’s Alerts – but you have to go out into the countryside to find them.

Annie Pang sends photographs of Cosmia praeacuta from the Gorge/Tillicum area, July 19.

Cosmia praeacuta (Lep.: Noctuidae) Annie Pang

Cosmia praeacuta (Lep.: Noctuidae) Annie Pang

Jeff Gaskin writes: On Sunday July 27, around 6 pm. there were an Anise Swallowtail, a Red Admiral, and 2 Painted Ladies on or flying around the cement reservoir on Mt. Tolmie – to which Jeremy Tatum adds: There were also Painted Ladies on the top of Christmas Hill at the same time.

Val George writes: Here is my butterfly list for the official July count done for Mt Douglas and the surrounding area; I did the count July 27.

Anise Swallowtail 2 (summit), Cabbage White 11, Lorquin’s Admiral 1, Painted Lady 4 (summit), Pine White 8, Western Tiger Swallowtail 6, Woodland Skipper 1.

Val also attaches a photo of a female Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) taken on July 25 behind the Red Barn Market on West Saanich Rd.

Female Blue Dasher Pachydiplax longipennis (Odo.: Libellulidae) Val George


Jeremy Tatum writes that the Satyr Comma caterpillar shown on July 26 pupated on July 28 and made a nice chrysalis:

Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus (Lep. Nymphalidae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 July 26

Identification Problems
Colias, Polygonia, Yponomeuta
Jeremy Tatum

Colias, the sulphur butterflies. Pristine fresh males might be easy if one sees both upper and undersides. Unfortunately, sulphurs almost always settle and rest with their wings closed, so we don’t often get a good prolonged look at the uppersides. Females of several of the Colias species have an occasional-to-common white form, and white females are perhaps the most difficult forms to identify. I believe that Aziza Cooper’s July 21 butterfly (see July 22 posting) is a white female, so we have a problem!

The plausible possibilities in our area are

Western Sulphur C. occidentalis
Clouded Sulphur C. philodice
Orange Sulphur C. eurytheme

I hope I’m not too hasty, but I don’t think Aziza’s butterfly is occidentalis,so we are left with the other two. I cannot say that I am certain which of the two it is. In most pictures that I have seen of the two species, the hindwing underside of those labelled (rightly or wrongly!) as eurytheme has a fairly conspicuous row of submarginal spots. These spots are much less bold in pictures that are supposed to be philodice. Such spots are almost completely absent in Aziza’s photo. Based on this I’d agree with Aziza that her butterfly is more likely to be philodice, the Clouded Sulphur. We should be on the look-out for more of these butterflies. If you can see conspicuous orange on a male upperside, it’ll be Eurytheme.


Polygonia, the commas (formerly anglewings). I find these very difficult, and Val George has set us a problem with his July 13 upper and underside (see July 17 posting).

The plausible possibilities in our area are

Satyr Comma P. satyrus
Green Comma P. faunus
Grey Comma P. progne
Oreas Comma P. oreas
Hoary Comma P. gracilis
“Zephyr” Comma P. zephyrus

Val’s photos are certainly not satyrus or faunus, while progne has never been recorded anywhere near Vancouver Island.

Not everyone regards “zephyrus” as a separate species, and on this site I am regarding the “Zephyr” Comma as a subspecies (the one that is supposed to occur on Vancouver Island) of the Hoary Comma, and I call it P. gracilis zephyrus. The problem of comma identification is already hard enough without trying to deal with subspecies, so, for Val’s butterfly, we have to decide between P. oreas and P. gracilis. I’m not sure myself, and I’d like to see to two species side by side.  Val is leaning towards gracilis.  We’d welcome comments.


Yponomeuta, the small ermine moths. The adults of the species Y. malinellus and Y. padella are similar. Whether they are distinguishable other than by dissection I am not yet sure. I’ll try to rear some next year. Eric LaGasa, Washington micro expert, agrees with my suggestion that larvae feeding on Malus are likely to be malinellus, while larvae feeding on Crataegus are likely to be padella. Also the cocoons are distinct. The cocoon of malinellus is dense, white and opaque, whereas that of padella is a flimsy net-like structure. I labelled most examples that appeared earlier on this site as malinellus. However, the foodplant of some of them was known to be Crataegus, so when I get round to it (perhaps not too far in the future) I should re-label these as padella.


Annie Pang writes: I got this picture on July 21st at Gorge Park. I saw the wasp drop to the ground carrying this spider which I had identified as possibly a Misumena vatia although it would be hard to tell with this wasp eating it!

Jeremy Tatum comments: There is a family of wasps, Pompilidae, that specializes in hunting spiders, but this is not one of them. It is a vespid, Polistes sp. Interesting. I agree with Annie that the spider may well be Misumena vatia, but it is probably not safe to label it as such.

Paper wasp Polistes sp. (Hym.: Vespidae) with spider. Annie Pang

Jeremy Tatum writes: Here is an unusually white form of the caterpillar of a Satyr Comma from Lochside Drive north of Blenkinsop Lake, July 24.

Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Jeremy Tatum


Jeremy Tatum writes: On July 25 there were a Painted Lady and a Red Admiral on the Mount Tolmie reservoir. It is best to go after about 6:00 pm to see these late-afternoon hill-topping nymphalids.

Jeff Gaskin writes: On July 17, Nairn Hollett tells me that Government House had the following butterflies: 1 Red Admiral, 1 Painted Lady, 4 Western Tiger Swallowtails, and 2 Lorquin’s Admirals. Today in Beacon Hill Park on July 22, in the southern woods the best I could come up with was 1 Western Tiger Swallowtail.

Jeremy Tatum writes: Viewers may have seen a bold headline in the July 23 Times-Colonist: Burrowing Caterpillars Scar Lilacs. The species concerned is Gracillaria syringella (Lep.: Gracillariidae), also known as Caloptilia syringella. A close-up of an adult, photographed by Terry Thormin, appeared on this site on 2010 May 17.

Libby Avis writes from Alberni: Got Anarta (formerly Dicestra) farnhami on July 19th; it’s the first time I’ve seen it here. Also Melanchra adjuncta on July 17th. Have only seen it once before and that was in 2008.

Anarta farnhami (Lep.: Noctuidae) Libby Avis

Melanchra adjuncta (Lep.: Noctuidae) Libby Avis


Morgan Davies sends a photo of Apamea amputatrix from a light trap on Sidney Island, July 2.

Apamea amputatrix (Lep.: Noctuidae) Morgan Davies

2014 July 22

Colias alert! Aziza Cooper reports two or three sulphur butterflies at Panama Flats on July 21. She photographed one of them – below. Not 100 percent sure of the exact species yet, but we’ll post as soon as we know for sure. In the meantime, I thought I ought not to delay in posting the sighting. The one below is nectaring at bindweed. It may also be attracted to clovers, melilot and lucerne.

Sulphur Colias sp. (Lep.: Pieridae) Aziza Cooper

The Monarch that was at Panama Flats on Sunday, July 20, hasn’t been seen again – but keep a look-out and let us know.

Annie Pang sends photos of two nice moths from her home in the Gorge/Tillicum area, July 7.

Lesser Yellow Underwing Noctua comes (Lep.: Noctuidae) Annie Pang

Lesser Yellow Underwing Noctua comes (Lep.: Noctuidae) Annie Pang

Girdler Moth Dargida procinctus (Lep.: Noctuidae) Annie Pang

Jeremy Tatum writes: The moth below is a very tiny moth, and I couldn’t get it as sharp as I would have liked. Viewers will have often noticed a swollen gall at the base of the midrib of the leaves of Rhamnus purshiana. This is caused by the caterpillar of a moth of the family Cosmopterygidae, Sorhagenia nimbosa.

Sorhagenia nimbosa (Lep.: Cosmopterygidae) Jeremy Tatum

Jeff Gaskin writes: In Cuthbert Holmes Park today, July 21, there were 11 Lorquin’s Admirals, 3 Pine Whites and 1 Woodland Skipper. Western Tiger Swallowtails seem to be petering out – there was one on the 500 block of Gorge road West today, and only one in Gorge Park on Saturday July the 19th. In Cecilia Ravine were just 2 Lorquin’s Admirals, 1 Woodland Skipper, and 8 Cabbage Whites.

2014 July 20

Monarch!!! Jeremy Tatum saw one, pristine fresh, at Panama Flats today. Honest!
No kidding! Has anyone else seen one? Please do let us know.

Jeff Gaskin writes: This morning, July 17th, there was a Woodland Skipper on lavender in a playground at the end of Cecilia Avenue, just to the north of Cecilia Ravine in the Burnside-Gorge Community.

Bill Katz sends a photo of a small ermine moth of the genus Yponomeuta, from Summit Hill. The exact species is a bit difficult to determine, but this one looks more like Y. malinellus, whose caterpillar feeds on apple (including crab-apple) leaves.

Yponomeuta malinellus (Lep.: Yponomeutidae) Bill Katz

Jeremy Tatum writes: Visitors to Panama Flats will notice a strikingly striped leaf beetle on the Beggarticks, a.k.a Bur Marigold, a.k.a. Bidens. This is Calligrapha californica. I managed to photograph one of them on July 20.

Calligrapha californica (Col.: Chrysomelidae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 July 17

Jeff Gaskin reports that the Tuesday Group saw at least 6 Pine Whites at Witty’s Lagoon on July 15, at about the same time that Jeremy Tatum saw his first at UVic, where there are now lots of them. Jeff also noted them around Calvert Park and Hector Road the following day.

Still lots of Painted Ladies in the evenings on the reservoir or near the Jeffery Pine on Mount Tolmie. Most are rather worn, but one on July 16 was pristine fresh.

Val George reports a Hudsonian Whiteface from San Juan Ridge (near Jordan River), July 13. Also from there a comma believed to be a Hoary Comma. (Jeremy Tatum comments: I still don’t know how to tell the difference between a Hoary Comma and an Oreas Comma. If anyone has any comments on the butterfly in Val’s photos, do let us know.)

Hudsonian Whiteface Leucorrhinia hudsonica (Odo.: Libellulidae) Val George

Hoary Comma Polygonia gracilis (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Val George

Hoary Comma Polygonia gracilis (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Val George

There are some butterflies to look out for that we haven’t yet had on this site this year.
Great Arctic, Common Wood Nymph, Hydaspe Fritillary, Margined White, Dun Skipper.

Great Arctic. This is an even year, so this is when they are supposed to be around. Dates when they have been previously reported to this site are July 5 and 10, 2012, and July 9, 2013 (an odd year!). This, therefore, is the time of year. I went up Mount Wells
(for probably the last time!) on July 15, but I drew blank. I got there at 8:00 am, hoping to beat the heat, but it was dangerously hot even at that time in the morning. The only butterflies I saw there were a few Woodland Skippers.

Common Wood Nymph. You might try the DND grounds near the RPBO – but you’ll need permission. Or the railway line north of Chemainus. A long shot – the DAO.

Hydaspe Fritillary. Perhaps way along the hydro line by Spectacle Lake.

Margined White – maybe the railway line north of Malahat station, or Bright Angel Park.

Dun Skipper. You could try the Kinsol trestle.

2014 July 14

Saturday, July 19
Dragonflies in the Wild
Last summer, entomologist Gord Hutchings took us out to the ponds at Elk/Beaver Lake and we enjoyed close-up looks at many of the dragonfly wonders that live here. This year we will head out to the wilds for an all-day outing. We shall also check out birds as we travel through the forest. Consider this a Dragonfly and Bird Extravaganza! Our planned location will probably be around the Nanaimo Lakes area but the final destination will be chosen closer to the date. Ideally we will be near a pond, a river and a lake to get the most diversity of species, birds and dragonflies. Gord has seen some rather uncommon dragonflies in that rich area. The success of this field trip depends on its being a sunny day as they are only active when it is nice out. We will be in some very rough terrain around the edges of waterways, so you might wish to bring your gumboots, and a hiking stick might be good as well. Bring a lunch for the all-day outing. We will probably meet at 7:00 a.m. at Helmcken Park & Ride to carpool. Contact Agnes at or 250-721-0634 to register or for more information.

Saturday, July 19 to Sunday, July 27
We are always looking for keen-eyed volunteers to submit butterfly records. If you would like to participate, please contact Aziza Cooper at

Jeremy Tatum writes: At this time of year, butterflies are mostly Western Tiger Swallowtails and Lorquin’s Admirals. However in the late afternoon (say about 6 o’clock) nymphalids are hill-topping. Thus in the last few days (written on July 14) Painted Ladies have been seen at the tops of Mount Tolmie, Christmas Hill and Highrock Park. Doubtless they are to be found at the tops of other hills, too, as well as possibly some other butterflies. On July 13 I saw a Mourning Cloak at Rithet’s Bog.

Jeff Gaskin writes: This morning, Sat. July 12, there was a Painted Lady on a buddleia bush along with swallowtails, and a Lorquin’s Admiral at 410 Gorge Road West. Nearby but down a block on Gorge Road was a Pale Tiger Swallowtail.

Bill Katz adds a new moth to this site with a photo of Plemyra georgii from Goldstream Park on July 13. Jeremy Tatum photographed another Enargia infumata at his Saanich apartment on July 14. Not sure whether the slightly different coluur of this moth from the July 3 one is a real colour difference between the moths, or part of the vagaries of digital photography.

Plemyra georgii (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

Enargia infumata (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 July 10

Val George reports 2 Painted Ladies and a Red Admiral on the reservoir at the summit of Mt Tolmie on July 8 (photos attached).

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Val George

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Val George

Jeff Gaskin reports 4 Painted Ladies, 1 Pale Tiger Swallowtail, several Western Tiger Swallowtails and lots of Lorquin’s Admirals on Mount Tolmie on July 7.

Jeremy Tatum writes: I saw an Anise Swallowtail at Island View Beach on July 6. In the days when this was still a common butterfly, the caterpillars at IVB used to feed on Lomatium and Glehnia.

Every morning now there are several Common Emerald moths outside my apartment. On July 7 they were joined there by a Eulithis xylina.

Eulithis xylina (Lep.: Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

Jochen Moehr sends a photo of a very strange creature from Metchosin. It is a clearwing moth of the family Sesiidae. Claudia Copley suggested that it is Synanthedon novaroensis, and, after further study, I’m almost certain that that is what it is. The larva apparently feeds in the cambium layer of various pines and Douglas Fir. Its presence can be detected by a mass of mixed pitch and frass on the tree trunk. A most interesting find.

Synanthedon novaroensis (Lep.: Sesiidae) Jochen Moehr

Jeremy Tatum found a third-instar Polyphemus caterpillar on Cornus stolonifera in Lochside Drive north of Blenkinsop Lake on July 8. There was also a Satyr Comma nearby.

Polyphemus Moth Antheraea polyphemus (Lep.: Saturniidae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 July 6

Colias alert! Jeff Gaskin writes: Today around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 6, there was a sulphur butterfly flying low along Logan Avenue and heading towards Harriet Road which is in the Gorge/Burnside Road community.

Jeremy Tatum responds: Sulphurs are rare visitors to the Victoria area, and we cannot be sure which species this was. Butterfly enthusiasts are asked to look out for sulphurs, in the Gorge area or anywhere else and let us know if they see any, and see if they can identify the species. (Don’t ask me how – I dunno!)

Bill Katz sends a photo of Eulithis xylina from his Summit Hill garage. Moths of this genus are known as “phoenix” moths.

Eulithis xylina (Lep.: Geometridae) Bill Katz

It was totally cloudy at the top of Mount Tolmie when a few butterfly enthusiasts gathered there on the morning of July 6, and no butterflies turned up then. However, by 6:00 in the evening it was warm and sunny and the local nymphalids were hill-topping. There was several Lorquin’s Admirals and Painted Ladies (some of the latter quite worn but still flying strongly) and at least one Red Admiral, near the entrance to the reservoir.

Jeremy Tatum writes: I usually assume that any comma seen at UVic is, by default, a Satyr Comma, so I was surprised on Saturday (July 5) to find a chrysalis of the Green Comma on a willow there.

Green Comma Polygonia faunus (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Jeremy Tatum



2014 July 3

Sunday, July 6
Monthly Butterfly Outing

Join Aziza Cooper on the first of a series of Butterfly outings. She hopes to get out on the first Sunday in each month to search for butterflies. Each outing is intended to help us learn more about our local butterflies. This outing is weather dependent. It needs to be warm and sunny to make it worthwhile. We will meet near the top of Mount Tolmie (off Cedar Hill Cross Road) and decide where to go from there. Meet at 10:00 a.m. at the main parking lot just north of the summit. Contact Aziza at 250-516-7703 or email Agnes at thelynns at for more information. (I believe that Rick Schortinghuis will be leading this trip.)

Val George was on Mount Douglas on June 25, doing the monthly Butterfly Count, and he scored: 22 Western Tiger Swallowtails, 3 Pale Swallowtails, 1 Anise Swallowtail (summit), 15 Cabbage Whites, 5 Painted Ladies (summit), 1 Propertius Duskywing (summit), 1 Mourning Cloak, 5 Lorquin’s Admirals, c50 European (Essex) Skippers.

Jeremy Tatum photographed a moth, Enargia infumata at his Saanich apartment on July 1. The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of cottonwood. He writes: There seem to be lots of Common Emerald moths Hemithea aestivaria everywhere just now. Although there were very few Malacosoma caterpillars this spring, there was an adult M. californicum outside my apartment this morning (July 3). Satyr Commas, both adults and caterpillars, are to be found just now along Lochside Drive north of Blenkinsop Lake.

Enargia infumata (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

Ken Vaughan sends bunch of photos of a variety of insects.

Sabulodes edwardsata (Lep.: Geometridae) Ken Vaughan

Western Tiger Swallowtail Papilio rutulus (Lep.: Papilionidae) Ken Vaughan

Ellychnia hatchi (Col.: Lampyridae) Ken Vaughan

Male Eight-spotted Skimmer Libellula forensis (Odo.: Libellulidae) Ken Vaughan

Male Western Pondhawk Erythemis collocata (Odo.: Libellulidae) Ken Vaughan


2014 June 30

Jeremy Tatum writes: I am now back from holidays in England. Sorry for the long gap in the Invert Alerts. I had some fancy notion that I might somehow be able to continue to operate it from England, but that proved to be beyond my limited computer abilities. We should be back in business now, so keep your reports and pictures coming in.

I saw lots of butterflies in England, and I thank Sussex butterfly enthusiast David Harris for taking me out to show me so many of them on the South Downs.

One of the butterflies I saw was the genuine Ringlet butterfly – named for the conspicuous “ringlet” marks on the undersides of its wings. The Ringlet is not at all like our local butterfly that we illogically call the (Adjective) “Ringlet”. Our butterfly is really a local population of the widespread Holarctic Large Heath Coenonympha tullia. This species unsurprisingly varies quite a lot over its wide range, and many of these minor varieties have received separate specific names from overenthusiastic taxonomists. Our Vancouver Island population is distinguished by having no trace of a “ringlet” mark at all! The immature stages are indistinguishable from those of the European populations.

I made a mistake in the June 10 posting, dismissing a noctuid moth photographed by Aziza Cooper as a mere “micro”, probably a crambid. I apologize to Aziza and most particularly to the moth for this mistake. Libby Avis has identified it for us as a noctuid, Protodeltotes albildula. I have corrected the text and caption in the June 10 posting.

During the past two weeks while I was away I received a few reports, as follows.

June 11. Jeff Gaskin. Painted Ladies on Christmas Hill.
June 14. Ian Cruickshank. A Ceanothus Silk Moth at East Sooke Park.
June 15. Julie Michaux. A Large Yellow Underwing in her Saanich Garden.
June 17. Jeff Gaskin. Seven or more Pale Tiger Swallowtails along Stebbings Road,
Shawnigan Lake area, as well as a few late Western Spring Azures.
Also, a Mourning Cloak at Providence Farm, Duncan.
June 21. Bill Katz sent photos from Finnerty Gardens and Summit Hill of the moths
Spilosoma virginica, Eurrhypara hortulata, Idaea dimidiata and Udea profundalis. The first two are shown below.
June 21. Jeff Gaskin. Cuthbert Homes Park. 20 Essex Skippers, 13 Lorquin’s
Admirals, 1 Western Spring Azure, 1 Mourning Cloak.
June 22 Sandra Raftery. Michell Nursery, Lochside Drive. White-lined Hawk Moth.
June 23 Bill Katz. Moths at Summit Hill Callizzia amorata, Hedya nubiferana, Notocelia sp.
June 25 Jeff Gaskin. Panama Flats (not including Panama Hill), 213 Essex Skippers.
Colquitz River Park, 10 Western Tiger Swallowtails and 15 Lorquin’s Admirals.
June 30 Jeremy Tatum. Mount Tolmie, near the Jeffery Pine, a Painted Lady.


Spilosoma virginica (Lep.:Erebidae – Arctiinae) Bill Katz

Small Magpie Moth Eurrhypara hortulata (Lep.: Crambidae) Bill Katz

White-lined Hawk Moth Hyles lineata (Lep.: Sphingidae) Sandra Raftery


Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba (Lep.:Noctuidae) Julie Michaux



2014 June 10

A reminder – Jeremy Tatum will be away on holiday from now to the end of the month, so the Invertebrate Alert site service will be somewhere between spotty and nonexistent during that period. (See June 8 posting.) If I find a computer while I’m away, I may be able to do something. Otherwise, save your reports of sightings and photos. In the meantime, here are two notices from the VNHS calendar to keep you busy. Note that it is very probable that you will find some butterflies in Duncan that you won’t find in Victoria.

Sunday, June 15
Field Trip (LEVEL 2/3)
Duncan Butterflies

Join us on our search for the amazing array of butterflies in this area. This trip is weather dependent. It needs to be sunny to make it worthwhile. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Helmcken Park and Ride to car-pool or at 10:00 a.m. at the entrance to the boardwalk at Somenos Marsh in Duncan (off the highway north of Beverly). Contact Rick at 250-885-2454 if the weather is doubtful or for more information.

Saturday, June 21 to Sunday, June 29
We are always looking for keen-eyed volunteers to submit butterfly records. If you would like to participate, please contact Aziza Cooper at


Aziza Cooper writes: Today (June 8) I counted 62 Vancouver Island Ringlets at the Quick’s Bottom site on the trail between Markham Road and Wilkinson Road. Several times 5 or more were in the air at once. Three more ringlets flushed out of the grassy field north of Layritz Park. Another ringlet was on private property in another field south of Quick’s Bottom. It looks like they’re having a very good year. The only other butterfly I saw today was a Lorquin’s Admiral. I’ve attached a photo of a moth I found in the grass at the field north of Layritz Park.

Jeff Gaskin also noted the ringlets at Layritz Park on June 9, but missed them at Quick’s! Evidently you have to be there at the right time!

Jeremy Tatum comments. This is really good news about these butterflies. What to call them is a bit of a problem, since they have been subject to so much taxonomic revision and name-changing over the years. I take the conservative view and I call all the populations of this very wide-ranging butterfly Coenonympha tullia, and the English name Large Heath. Regardless, it is very good news to hear about this healthy population at Quick’s Bottom. Libby Avis has kindly identified Aziza’s moth as Protodeltote albidula.  She writes: They typically come to rest upside down on a stalk of grass – just like Aziza’s photo

Protodeltote albidula (Lep.: Noctuidae) Aziza Cooper

Jeremy continues: I visited Quick’s Bottom on June 9 and I saw a few tullia there, as well as three Mourning Cloaks. The Reed Canary Grass there is at least as high as an elephant’s eye, and very hard for a hay-fever sufferer. In fact the grass is so high there that I couldn’t reach the birdwatching platform at Quick’s. I saw a couple of nice moth caterpillars, both on rose flowers – Common Emerald Hemithea aestivaria, and Vapourer Moth Orgyia antiqua. At Rithet’s Bog I saw a late Western Spring Azure.
On June 10 I found a caterpillar (shown below) of Behrensia conchiformis on Snowberry at Mount Tolmie.

Behrensia conchiformis (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum


2014 June 8

Jeremy Tatum writes: I am going on holiday on Wednesday. Back at the end of June. I may occasionally (or may not at all) have access to a computer, and may occasionally (or may not) be able to run the Invert Alert during this period. If you submit any contributions during this period, you may have to wait a while before they are posted. It may be best to save your photos and sightings until I get back.
I look forward to seeing them.

Libby Avis sends photos of Sphinx perelegans from her porch light at Port Alberni, June 7. Also on June 7, a Euclidia ardita from Mount Arrowsmith.

Sphinx perelegans (Lep.:Sphingidae) Libby Avis

Sphinx perelegans (Lep.:Sphingidae) Libby Avis

Sphinx perelegans (Lep.:Sphingidae) Libby Avis

Euclidia ardita (Lep.:Erebidae) Rick Avis

Jeremy Tatum writes: Western and Pale Tiger Swallowtails and Lorquin’s Admirals are now (June 7) being seen generally. Mourning Cloaks are still around – e.g. two on Mount Tolmie and one at Blenkinsop Lake. There were two Satyr Commas, one of which landed on me, at Bow Park. Also at Bow Park I found a congregation of dozens of Mourning Cloak caterpillars on a willow. (They are highly gregarious.) I took one home briefly to photograph it, and then took it back to join its fellows.

Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa (Lep.:Nymphalidae)
Jeremy Tatum

Val George writes: Butterflies at the top of Mt Douglas this afternoon, June 5: 2 Anise Swallowtails (photo), 2 Western Tiger Swallowtails, 1 Lorquin’s Admiral, 2 Propertius Duskywings, 3 Western Spring Azures, 1 Painted Lady.

Anise Swallowtail Papilio zelicaon (Lep.:Papilionidae) Val George

Ken Vaughan sends a few pics from Swan Lake, June 6.

Lorquin’s Admiral Limenitis lorquini (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Ken Vaughan

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Ken Vaughan

Blue Dasher Pachydiplax longipennis (Odo.:Libellulidae) Ken Vaughan

Blue Dasher Pachydiplax longipennis (Odo.:Libellulidae) Ken Vaughan


Libby Avis sends a “mystery caterpillar” from Alberni on June 4. Any ideas, anyone?

Mystery caterpillar Libby Avis

Jeff Gaskin reports a Cedar Hairstreak from Joan Crescent on June 4, while Bruce Whittington saw several in his Ladysmith garden on June 2. Jeff reports Lorquin’s Admirals and Western Tiger Swallowtails from Esquimalt Gorge and Gorge Parks on June 5.
Looks as though Bill Katz has been exploring the genus Xanthorhoe. His X. packardata was at Finnerty Gardens, and his X. defensaria at Goldstream Park, June 3.

Xanthorhoe packardata (Lep.:Geometridae) Bill Katz

Xanthorhoe defensaria (Lep.:Geometridae) Bill Katz

Bill also sends a photo of a Rough Prominent from his Summit Hill garage:

Rough Prominent Nadata gibbosa (Lep.:Notodontidae) Bill Katz

2014 June 3

Jeremy Tatum writes that there were lots of butterflies (seven species) on or near the reservoir or the Jeffrey Pine on Mount Tolmie at 4:00 pm on the afternoon of June 2 – Western and Pale Tiger Swallowtails, Painted Ladies, Mourning Cloak, Lorquin’s Admiral, Propertius Duskywing, Western Spring Azure. Also on Mount Tolmie now you can find young (2nd or 3rd instar caterpillars of the woodling moth Egira crucialis in the panicles of Ocean Spray.

Rosemary Jorna writes: I saw this Cedar Hairstreak on Ayum Rd during the Sooke Symphomy Secret Garden Tour, June 1. Late in the afternoon on Tugwell Rd , Otter Point, I saw my first Lorquin’s Admiral for the year but could not get a good photo.

Cedar Hairstreak Mitoura rosneri (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Rosemary Jorna

Jeremy Tatum sends pictures of a Common Emerald moth, and a chrysalis of Lorquin’s Admiral, from Mount Tolmie, June 3.

Common Emerald Hemithea aestivaria (Lep.:Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

Lorquin’s Admiral Limenitis lorquini (Lep.:Nymphalidae
Jeremy Tatum

2104 June 01

Jeremy Tatum reports that on May 30-31 there were Mourning Cloak, Painted Lady, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Propertius Duskywing on the Mount Tolmie reservoir. He also saw single Mourning Cloaks on May 3 at Maber Flats and at UVic. Also at UVic on May 31 a Satyr Comma and a Lorquin’s Admiral, and on June 1 there a latish Western Spring Azure. Caterpillars of Satyr Comma can now be found on Stinging Nettle at Lochside Drive north of Blenkinsop Lake, and at Swan Lake. Caterpillars of Essex (European) Skipper can now be found on Reed Canary Grass at Panama Flats.

Bill Katz photographed a Lorquin’s Admiral At Finnerty Gardens, UVic, June 1.

Lorquin’s Admiral Limenitis lorquini (Lep.: Nymphalidae)
Bill Katz

Is anyone seeing any Malacosoma caterpillars this year? I have seen exactly one californicum and one disstria this year. Is anyone else seeing them? Sharon Godkin sent a photo of a big bunch of californicum from Powell River on the Mainland, but they seem to be almost absent from the southern part of Vancouver Island.
Rosemary Jorna sends a bunch of butterfly and damselfly photos from the Otter Point area. She also writes: We have just got back from the Sooke Symphony’s Secret
Garden Tour. There were Pale Tiger Swallowtails in the gardens from Cooper’s Cove
to French Beach The last garden in the 10000 numbers on West Coast Road had
7 of them cruising the flower beds.

Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus (Lep.:Nymphalidae)
Rosemary Jorna

Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus (Lep.:Nymphalidae)
Rosemary Jorna

Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus (Lep.:Nymphalidae)
Rosemary Jorna

Western Tiger Swallowtail Papilio rutulus (Lep.:Papilionidae)
Rosemary Jorna

Pale Tiger Swallowtail Papilio eurymedon (Lep.:Papilionidae)
Rosemary Jorna

Tule Bluet Enallagma carunculatum (Odo.:Coenagrionidae)
Rosemary Jorna

Tule Bluet Enallagma carunculatum (Odo.:Coenagrionidae)
Rosemary Jorna
Ken Vaughan sends some dragonflies from the Beaver Lake Ponds, May 31.

Cardinal Meadowhawk Sympetrum illotum (Odo.:Libellulidae)
Ken Vaughan

Dot-tailed Whiteface Leucorrhinia intacta (Odo.:Libelluluidae)
Ken Vaughan

Four-spotted Skimmer Libellula quadrimaculata (Odo.:Libellulidae)
Ken Vaughan


Libby Avis sends pictures of the caterpillars of Yponomeuta padella from the May 24 Metchosin Bioblitz.

Yponomeuta padella (Lep.:Yponomeutidae) Libby Avis

Yponomeuta padella (Lep.:Yponomeutidae) Libby Avis

Marie O’Shaughnessy writes: More butterflies from Government House, Monday May 26, 2014. Despite the wind these little gems did manage to alight upon the Rhodos, Ginkgo tree and other chosen delights. Found two Red Admirals which was nice. The most abundant butterfly at this time appears to be the Cabbage White as well as the Western Tiger Swallowtail.

Pale Tiger Swallowtail Papilio eurymedon (Lep.:Papilionidae) Marie O’Shaughnessy

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Marie O’Shaughnessy

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Marie O’Shaughnessy

Cabbage White Pieris rapae (Lep.:Pieridae) Marie O’Shaughnessy

Bill Katz sends a photo of three Pandemis cerasana on Summit Hill, May 29. Two of them in a private moment, and a voyeur, or perhaps a jilted lover.

Pandemis cerasana (Lep.:Tortricidae) Bill Katz

He sends photos of two moths from Prospect Community Hall, June 1.

Spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa maculata
(Lep.:Erebidae -Arctiinae)
Bill Katz

Herald Moth Scoliopteryx libatrix
(Lep.:Erebidae – Scoliopteriginae)
Bill Katz


Jeremy Tatum sends a photo of a caterpillar of Orthosia hibisci from Blenkinsop Lake, and a caterpillar and chrysalis of a Sara Orange-tip from Munn Road.

Orthosia hibisci (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

Sara Orange-tip Anthocharis sara (Lep.:Pieridae)
Jeremy Tatum

Sara Orange-tip Anthocharis sara (Lep.:Pieridae)
Jeremy Tatum

April – May 2014

2014 May 29

Jeremy Tatum writes: Apologies for a few days’ delay – I have been laid low by some sort of ailment, which kept me in bed or at least in apartment for a few days. Back in business now.

Marie O’Shaughnessy writes: First time I have ever seen a Red Admiral at Government Gardens. There were 4 Western Tiger Swallowtails in the same area, along with a Western Spring Azure and two Cabbage Whites. Taken this afternoon at 5.30 pm May 24/2014. Jeremy Tatum writes: Marie’s is the first Red Admiral I’ve heard of this year. I saw a Mourning Cloak at Hillman Trail (Metchosin) on May 24. Also my first Western Tiger Swallowtail this year, at my Saanich apartment. Val George writes: I took this photo of a Common Ringlet (if you prefer, Coenonympha tullia [ yes, I do! – Jeremy!]) at Rithet’s Bog today, May 24. He photographed one of 6 Purplish Coppers at Island View Beach on May 27, around the patches of Black Knotweed Polygonum paronychia, which is doubtless the larval foodplant. Also there were a Common Ringlet Coenonympha tullia, a Western Tiger Swallowtail (alas no Anises on the Lomatium or the Glehnia!) and 8 Cabbage Whites.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Marie O’Shaughnessy

Western Tiger Swallowtail Papilio rutulus (Lep.:Papilionidae) Marie O’Shaughnessy

Coenonympha tullia (Lep.: Nymphalidae -Satyrinae) Val George

Purplish Copper Lycaena helloides (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Val George

Bill Katz sends a photo of the moth Lacinipolia patalis from Summit Hill, May19.

Lacinipolia patalis (Lep.:Noctuidae) Bill Katz

Jeremy Tatum sends photos of three moths from his Saanich apartment, May 28-29.

Noctua pronuba (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

Eulithis xylina (Lep.:Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

Campaea perlata (Lep.:Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 May 23

The female Polyphemus Moth that has been at the front door of the Swan Lake nature house for several days has moved, and is now at the right hand side of the door at an eminently photographable height. Her patience has been rewarded, for she has been visited by a male suitor, who has large bipectinate antennae. He is on the ceiling above the door, and not so easily photographable. Chantelle Tearoe, Office Coordinator at the nature house, snapped this picture of the female. As you can see, the moth has just laid an egg. She will doubtless lay many more on the wall of the nature house. The caterpillars will have to be rescued, otherwise they will starve unless given some nice leaves. They have been found on many trees and shrubs, but willow or alder are safe bets.

Polyphemus Moth Antheraea polyphemus (Lep.:Saturniidae)
Chantelle Tearoe

Bill Katz found Jeff’s Silvery Blues on May 22. He writes: I drove back to Helmcken and found the bus stop across the road from the exit ramp – it’s actually on the entrance ramp to the Hwy going north from the hospital. Jeremy Tatum reports a Purplish Copper on May 22, on the East Saanich IR, north of Island View Beach.

Jeremy Tatum writes: The moth below was at my Saanich apartment of May 21. As mentioned on May 16, I’ll continue calling it Cerisy’s Eyed Hawk Moth Smerinthus cerisyi for the time being, although some authors are now treating the race ophthalmica as a full species. I released this moth in the Blenkinsop Valley after photographing it.

Cerisy’s Eyed Hawk Moth Smerinthus cerisyi (Lep.:Sphingidae) Jeremy Tatum

Last fall, Bill Savale found an unfamiliar caterpillar on Grindelia at Island View Beach. It somewhat resembled the familiar Cucullia montanae, but it didn’t seem quite right, and, in its final instar, it was clear that it was some other species. Jeremy Tatum kept the caterpillar. The moth emerged on May 22, and, after it had posed for a photograph, he took it out to Island View and released it. The moth has a “hood” over its head. The Latin for “hood” is cucullus – hence the generic name of the moth.



Cucullia florea (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum


Rosemary Jorna writes: This little moth was resting at the Sunriver Community Gardens in Sooke last evening (May 22):

Cinnabar Moth Tyria jacobaeae (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae) Rosemary Jorna

2014 May 21

Notice to Contributors. While this site was originally conceived as an “Alert” it has also developed into a great Photo Gallery as well. The “Alert” function has been a bit diminished since we lost the “Send2Page” facility, and we are at present not able to post all contributions immediately. We are looking into ways in which we might be able to restore a more immediate response and hence restore the “Alert” aspect. We will continue to welcome contributions of both “Alert” and “Photo Gallery” nature. However, in the case of some of the commoner species that are not “Alerts” (except perhaps for first occurrences in a season), or invertebrates of which you may have several photos, we draw attention to the VNHS Flicker sites, one for general photos ( and one specifically for the InvertAlert ( To join or add photos to these sites, just click on the links and follow the instructions on the site. If you already have a Yahoo or Flickr account, the process to add the group is very easy.

Jeff Gaskin writes (May 20): Two more Mourning Cloaks to tell you about, and what a year they are having, one was in Hyacinth Park and one was at Panama Flats. Also, of interest were 2 Western Tiger Swallowtails seen at Panama Flats. Jeremy Tatum reports yet another Mourning Cloak, from Swan Lake, May 19. And on May 20 there were two Painted Ladies and a West Coast Lady near the Jeffery Pine at the top of Mount Tolmie.

Rosemary Jorna sends a photo of a Purplish Copper from the narrowest part of Whiffin Spit, May 20.

Purplish Copper Lycaena helloides (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Rosemary Jorna

Val George writes: Butterfly photos from May 19. The Mylitta Crescent was taken at Harewood Plains near Nanaimo. The Pale Swallowtail is from Panama Flats.

Mylitta Crescent Phyciodes mylitta (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Val George

Pale Tiger Swallowtail Papilio eurymedon (Lep.:Papilionidae) Val George

Jeremy Gatten sends a photo of the rather destructive defoliator playing havoc with the Garry Oaks in Uplands Park. It is the caterpillar of the moth known currently as Erannis vancouverensis, though Jeremy Tatum wonders whether it might in fact be an invader from Europe, E. defoliator.

Erannis vancouverensis (Lep.:Geomtridae) Jeremy Gatten

Ken Vaughan sends a varied bunch of insect photos from the weekend. The fly is from Swan Lake. The dragonflies and damselflies are from Beaver Lake Ponds (one of the best dragonfly places in the area). The butterflies and moth are from Mount Douglas.

Syrphid fly (ID, anyone?) (Dip.:Syrphidae) Ken Vaughan

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

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

Tule Bluet Enallagma carunculatum (Odo.:Coenagrionidae)
Ken Vaughan

Propertius Duskywing Erannis propertius (Lep.: Hesperiidae)
Ken Vaughan

Western Brown Elfin Incisalia iroides (Lep.:Lycaenidae)
Ken Vaughan

Adela septentrionella (Lep.:Incurvariidae) Ken Vaughan

Four-spotted Skimmer Libellula quadrimaculata (Odo.:Libellulidae) Ken Vaughan

Four-spotted Skimmer Libellula quadrimaculata (Odo.:Libellulidae)
Ken Vaughan

2014 May 19

The Polyphemus Moth that has been near the left hand light above the door of the Swan Lake nature house for several days was still there on May 19.

Jeff Gaskin writes: There were 5 Silvery Blues amongst the lupines at the Colwood exit of the Trans Canada Hwy. today May 18, and I found another Silvery Blue at Helmcken Road and the Hwy. This one was amongst lupines too. The spot is right behind a bus stop at the Hwy ramp and Helmcken . Also, of note I found a Mourning Cloak and a Western Tiger Swallowtail along the Galloping Goose trail between the Colwood exit and Goldstream Ave. Another Mourning Cloak and another Western Tiger Swallowtail were in front of the Oxford Inn at Gorge Road. and Albany Avenue.

Jeremy Tatum visited Jeff’s Silvery Blue colony at the Colwood turnoff from the Island Highway on May 16. It was a windy day and difficult to catch more than a brief glimpse of the butterflies, though he did see three or four. There were many ova on the lupine flower heads, surprisingly visible even at a distance. Also on May 16 he saw a Grey Hairstreak and a Mourning Cloak in front of the Oak Bay war memorial at Cattle Point, and two more Mourning Cloaks in Uplands Park. On May 17, there was a Mourning Cloak at Luxton Road, Langford, and on May 18 there was another Mourning Cloak at Vantreight’s bulb fields in central Saanich.

Aziza Cooper writes: A Grey Hairstreak was on a clover blossom on the east side near the metal building at Panama Flats this afternoon. I’ve attached a photo.

Grey Hairstreak Strymon melinus (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Aziza Cooper

On May 17, Jeremy Tatum found a tiny Sara Orangetip caterpillar on Barbaria in the hydro line at Munn Road.

Sara Orangetip Anthocharis sara (Lep.:Pieridae) Jeremy Tatum

The leaves of many Viburum shrubs this week are brown and badly skeletonized. If you look underneath the leaves you may see many small blackish and yellowish grubs. These are the grubs of the Viburnum Leaf Beetle. Jeremy Tatum photographed two of them at his Saanich apartment on May 17.

Viburnum Leaf Beetle Pyrrhalta viburni (Col.:Chrysomelidae) Jeremy Tatum

Gordon Hart writes: In our yard (Highland District) today (May 16), there were several Western Spring Azures and Cabbage Whites, one Pale Tiger Swallowtail and a Two-banded Skipper.

Two-banded Skipper Pyrgus ruralis (Lep.:Hesperiidae) Gordon Hart
Bill Katz sends some moth photos. First the micro Udea profundalis, from his Summit Hill garage, May 16. The caterpillar is a nettle feeder.

Udea profundalis (Lep.:Crambidae) Bill Katz

Next, the pug Eupithecia rotundopuncta from Goldstream Park, May 18.

Eupithecia rotundopuncta (Lep.:Geomtridae) Bill Katz

Now an American Lappet Moth from his productive Summit Hill Garage. The way that this moth holds its fore- and hindwings is characteristic.

Phyllodesma americana (Lep.:Lasiocampidae) Bill Katz

And finally, a new moth for this site, Metarrhanthis duaria, from Stewart Mountain, May 17.

Metarrhanthis duaria (Lep.:Geometriodae) Bill Katz

2014 May 16

Reminder for the May Butterfly Count: Saturday, May 17 to Sunday, May 25
We are always looking for keen-eyed volunteers to submit butterfly records. If you would like to participate, please contact Aziza Cooper at

Val George, May 15, stopped at the Colwood intersection on the Trans Canada Hwy to check out the Silvery Blues reported by Jeff Gaskin. 4 or 5 were flying around the lupine patch and presenting good opportunities for photos.

Silvery Blue Glaucopsyche lygdamus (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Val George

Silvery Blue Glaucopsyche lygdamus (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Val George


Jeremy Tatum shows a micro moth, freshly emerged from its pupa, from Mount Tolmie, May 15. This is one of several moth species which, at a distance, look remarkably like bird-droppings. Seen close-up, the deception is revealed. And on the same day Jeremy Gatten sends in a photo from Saanichton of another of these tortricid bird-dropping moths.

Hedya nubiferana (Lep.:Tortricidae) Jeremy Tatum


Acleris nivisellana (Lep.:Tortricidae) Jeremy Gatten




2014 May 14

Some enthusiasts may have known that there has been a cocoon of the Polyphemus Moth outside the door of the Swan Lake nature house all winter. The adult moth emerged today (May 14), and this evening it was still sitting next to the lamp at the left hand side of the nature house door. It is a female. Females don’t fly around much – they don’t feed; they merely await the arrival of a husband. There is a fairly good chance that it will still be there tomorrow (May 15), so, if you have never seen a Polyphemus Moth before, here’s your chance.

Val George sends a photo of a Grey Hairstreak from Cattle Point in Oak Bay this afternoon, May 14.

Grey Hairstreak Strymon melinus (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Val George

Aziza Cooper sends a photo of Autographa californica in the grass at Beacon Hill Park on the east side near Heywood and Park Streets.

Autographa californica (Lep.:Noctuidae)  Aziza Cooper

Jeff Gaskin reports a Western Tiger Swallowtail in Gorge Park today (May 14) – his first of the year. He reports that on Tuesday (naturally) May 13, The Tuesday Group went up Observatory Hill and saw 6+ Sara Orangetips, several Western Spring Azures, 2 Satyr Commas, and a Mourning Cloak. Another Mourning Cloak was seen from the car along West Saanich Road near Interurban Road. On May 12 there was a Mourning Cloak on Harriet Road near Obed Avenue. Jeremy Tatum reports a Satyr Comma from Blenkinsop Lake on May 12. Rosemary Jorna reports a few Mourning Cloaks, and more Western Spring Azures were flying along the road in Scout Camp Bernard on May 12. Then in front of the Archery Range there were 25 to 30 fresh Western Spring Azures mud puddling. She sends a photo of a few of the mud-puddlers, and a close-up of a Western Spring Azure, as well as the millipede Harpaphe haydeniana.

Western Spring Azure Celastrina echo (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Rosemary Jorna

Western Spring Azure Celastrina echo (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Rosemary Jorna

Millipede Harpaphe haydeniana (Polydesmida: Xystodesmidae)
Rosemary Jorna
Jeremy Tatum writes that a friend dug up an interesting-looking pupa (dipterous puparium) from her garden in Victoria:

Mystery object Jeremy Tatum

This is what ecloded (emerged) a few days later, May 13:

Narcissus Bulb Fly Merodon equestris (Dip.:Syrphidae) Jeremy Tatum

Jeremy Tatum also shows two geometrid caterpillars from Physocarpus at Maber Flats, May 13.

Hemithea aestivaria (Lep.:Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

Eulithis xylina (Lep.:Geometridae)
Jeremy Tatum

2014 May 13

Jeff Gaskin writes (May 12): Just to let you know that up to five Silvery Blues are amongst the lupines at the Colwood exit of the Island Highway. The lupines are just starting to flower now and the blues are very busy flying around the flowers.

Ken Vaughan sends a batch of various insects and a spider from Beaver Lake Ponds, May 11. The first is a jumping spider of the family Salticidae. This is a large family with many similar species, and it would probably be unsafe to give it a name here.

Jumping spider (Ara.:Salticidae) Ken Vaughan

Next is a march fly.

Marsh Fly Sepeda americana (Dip.: Sciomyzidae) Ken Vaughan

Next is a bee. A tentative suggestion is that it might be Eucera sp.

Unidentified bee. Perhaps Eucera sp. (Hym.: Apidae) Ken Vaughan

Next is a leaf beetle, probably Donacia or Plateumaris(not sure which)

Leaf beetle Donacia or Plateumaris (Col.:Chrysomelidae)
Ken Vaughan

The next one is a ladybird beetle – relatively easy to identify by counting the spots and knowing the Latin for thirteen:

Hippodamia tredecimpunctata (Col.:Coccinellidae) Ken Vaughan

And finally a damselfly. Rob Cannings writes: This is a female Ischnura cervula, I believe. A blue form, but not one of those with the male-type, broken antehumeral stripes.

Pacific Forktail Ischnura cervula (Odo.: Coenagrionidae) Ken Vaughan

2014 May 12
Val George photographed a Painted Lady on Mount Tolmie on May 9. It and a Mourning Cloak were still there on May 11. Jeremy Tatum and Bill Savale visited Latoria Creek Park on May 11, and found a little glade with lots of butterflies – Sara Orangetips, Cabbage Whites, Satyr Commas, Western Spring Azures, and maybe ten or more Mourning Cloaks. We also found there the geometrid moth Spargania luctuata. Gerry and Wendy Ansell saw their first Western Tiger Swallowtail of the year on May 11, in Thetis Lake Regional Park.

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Val George

Bill Katz drove up to the top of Mt Douglas on May 11 and found Painted Ladies, Swallowtails (not sure which as they didn’t stop for photos) and a dark small butterfly with red spots that he hadn’t seen before. (It’s a great photo, with the wings open, of a Grey Hairstreak – Jeremy.)

Jeremy Tatum wonders: Have the Painted Ladies flown in from somewhere, or did they overwinter here? Val’s specimen is evidently a very fresh specimen, while Bill’s is worn. What can we deduce from that – if anything?

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Bill Katz.

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Bill Katz

Grey Hairstreak Strymon melinus (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Bill Katz.

Ian Cruickshank sends photos of two moths from Mount McDonald (Sooke Hills), May 8. One of them is Melanolophia imitata. The other is a highflier of the genus Hydriomena. Jeremy Tatum writes that he is not certain of the species (there are many!), but it is most likely H. furcata or perhaps H. edentata.

Melanolophia imitata (Lep.:Geometridae) Ian Cruickshank

Hydriomena sp.(Lep.:Geometridae) Ian Cruickshank

Bill Katz sends a photo of the moth Xanthorhoe defensaria and the snail Monadenia fidelis (known variously as the Faithful Snail or the Pacific Sideband) from Goldstream Park, and the snail Cepaea nemoralis from Finnerty Gardens, May 10.

Xanthorhoe defensaria (Lep.:Geometridae) Bill Katz

Monadenia fidelis (Pul.:Bradybaenidae) Bill Katz

Cepaea nemoralis (Pul.:Helicidae) Bill Katz

Rosemary Jorna photographed two spiders on her deck at Otter Point on May 7.
We are grateful to Robb Bennett, who comments:

#1 is an immature male anyphaenid “ghost spider” – Anyphaena sp. Hunting, primarily nocturnal spiders; two species are fairly common in BC. Anyphaena aperta (a west coast endemic) is the most likely identification in our area, but A. pacifica is also around. Folks don’t often notice these spiders because they are relatively small, cryptic, and most active at night.

#2 is a male philodromid “agile crab spider**” – Philodromus dispar. Males of the species are very common in/around homes this time of year – a Palaearctic species introduced to the west coast [and one of the only species of Philodromus (a very large genus) that is easy to eyeball to species].

**also known by some authors as “running crab spiders”.

Ghost spider Anyphaena sp. (Ara.:Anyphaenidae) Rosemary Jorna

Agile crab spider Philodromus dispar (Ara.:Philodromidae)
Rosemary Jorna

2014 May 8

Notice to contributors. As we noted in an earlier posting (March 24) it generally takes up to three or four days between when we receive a contribution and when we manage to post it. This usually works out well. However, occasionally there is a report of some special invertebrate (a rarity, perhaps, or a first sighting of the season) and people would like to dash out and see if they could see it, in a similar manner to a report of a rare bird.
In such cases (a “chaseable” invertebrate) we shall make a special effort to get the report posted as soon as we can after it is received. Let us know if you feel that a report that you send in possibly comes into this category, and we’ll do our best!

In the meantime…

Rosemary Jorna sends photos of bumblebee and a beetle (possible a weevil) from her deck at Otter Point, May 7. I hope someone can identify them for us.

Unidentified bee (Hym.:Apidae) Rosemary Jorna

Unidentified beetle, possibly a weevil (Col.: Curculionidae?) Rosemary Jorna

Jeremy Tatum reports a Mourning Cloak from the reservoir on top of Mount Tolmie, May 6. It may well hang around for a while. Jeff Gaskin reports a Green Comma from Hector Road, May 7. He had a good look at it when it settled and was able to identify it with certainty. And Gerry Ansell reports a Grey Hairstreak and a Propertius Duskywing at the summit of Lone Tree Hill, May 7.

Here are some recent insects from Mount Tolmie, photographed on May 4 by Ken Vaughan. We don’t always know the names of the animals shown on this site, so, if there are any viewers out there who can help with identifications, please do let us know.

Ken’s first is a young caterpillar of Erannis vancouverensis (which I suspect might actually be European E. defoliaria) on apple. In a couple of weeks we’ll be seeing hundreds of the full-grown version of this caterpillar, on many trees, but especially on oaks. How can I identify such a young caterpillar? The way it is menacingly holding its head and thoracic legs is quite characteristic of the species.

Erannis vancouverensis (Lep.:Geometridae) Ken Vaughan

Ken’s second photo was of a micro caterpillar on the same apple tree. Probably a tortricid.

Unidentified caterpillar. (Lep.: probably Tortricidae) Ken Vaughan

Ken’s next two are flies. I’d really like to know what the first one is. When you walk along a trail with a hedge on either side, there are always numbers of this red-eyed fly on the shrubs on either side of the trail, and they are always (or so it seems) facing into the trail, as if they are watching you. Can anyone identify either of these flies for us??

Unidentified fly, perhaps Helina sp. (Dip.: Muscidae)
Ken Vaughan

Unidentified fly (Diptera) Ken Vaughan

Next, a snakefly. Formerly part of the Neuroptera, snakeflies now have an order of their own, the Raphidioptera.

Snakefly Agulla sp. (Rap.: Raphidiidae) Ken Vaughan

Ken’s last is obviously a bee, but I don’t know which. Ken suggests a “digger bee” (Anthophorinae), but it’ll need an expert to help us.

Unidentified bee (Hym.: Apidae) Ken Vaughan

Jeremy Tatum writes: Here is a caterpillar of Synaxis jubararia from UVic,
May 7.

Synaxis jubararia (Lep.:Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

Bruce Whittington sends a photo of a caterpillar of the Silver-spotted Tiger Moth from Ladysmith.

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

2014 May 5

Marie O’Shaughnessy sends us a nice face-to-face picture of a Western Brown Elfin
from the gardens of Government House, May 2.

Western Brown Elfin Incisalia iroides (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Marie O’Shaughnessy

On May 3, Bill Katz found a Euthyatira pudens On the wall of the UVic Interfaith Chapel. Its caterpillar feeds on Cornus stonolifera. He also sends a photo of a female Western Spring Azure from Summit Hill.

Euthyatira pudens (Lep.:Drepanidae – Thyatirinae) Bill Katz

Western Spring Azure Celastrina echo (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Bill Katz

Jeff Gaskin reports a Painted Lady near the summit of Mount Tolmie, May 2. Jeremy Tatum reports a Mourning Cloak on Mount Tolmie and another one at his Poplar Avenue apartment, May 1. He photographed two moths from the Lochside trail north of Blenkinsop Lake, May 1.

Aseptis adnixa (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

American Lappet Moth Phyllodesma americana (Lep.:Lasiocampidae) Jeremy Tatum

Ken Vaughan writes: I took a quick walk after work around Swan Lake on May 1, and didn’t find much of interest, with one exception – a moth with feathers for wings.

Alucita montana (Lep.:Alucitidae) Ken Vaughan

2014 May 1

Several April 30 butterfly sightings: Jeremy Tatum reports that he saw a Mourning Cloak at UVic. Jeff Gaskin reports that while hiking the Lochside trail from Borden Street to Lohbrunner he found one Mourning Cloak and one Satyr Comma. He saw another Mourning Cloak at a rather unusual location – at the corner of Oak Street and Saanich Street which is right by Wal Mart. Val George reports the following from Observatory Hill (Little Saanich Mountain): 5 Propertius Duskywings, at least 10 Sara Orangetips, 1 Cabbage White.

Ken Vaughan sends some photos from the retreiver ponds at Beaver Lake, April 29.
The first two are damselflies, probably female Pacific Forktails. Next, a California Darner. And lastly what Ken describes as a “big shaggy fly”. Jeremy Tatum writes: “This stumped me for a while. A tachinid? A tabanid? It looks pretty fierce, but I don’t think it is one of these. The last thing I thought of was a syrphid. Syrphids are gentle, attractive flies, not at all fierce in appearance. Yet, in the end, I think it is indeed a syrphid, though not what one thinks of as a typical one. I believe it is a syrphid fly of the genus Criorrhina. Quite an impressive insect to find and to photograph.”

Probably Pacific Forktail Ischnura cervula (Odo.:Coenagrionidae)
Ken Vaughan

Probably Pacific Forktail Ischnura cervula (Odo.:Coenagrionidae)
Ken Vaughan

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

Probably Criorrhina sp.(Dip.:Syrphidae) Ken Vaughan

Ken also visited Rithet’s Bog on April 29, and came away with some photographic prizes. First a Yellow Dung Fly. Then an unidentified hymenopteran. A jumping spider. A leaf beetle. A shield/stink bug. And a crane fly with a wingspan of about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). Robb Bennett tells us the jumping spiders can be hard to identify. He writes: “First guess is a male of Eris militaris. But I could be mistaken, even at
genus level.” Can anyone help with the wasp, the beetle and the crane fly?

Yellow Dung Fly Scathophaga stercoraria (Dip.:Scathophagidae)
Ken Vaughan

Unidentified hymenopteran Ken Vaughan

Jumping spider. Unknown for certain, but
Possibly a male Eris militaris
Ken Vaughan

Leaf beetle (Col.:Chrysomelidae) Ken Vaughan

Euschistus conspersus (Hem.:Pentatomidae) Ken Vaughan

Crane fly (Dip.:Tipulidae) Ken Vaughan

Val George writes: Here is a photo of a Propertius Duskywing I took today, April 28, at Mt Douglas. Also there were: 3 Spring Azures, c5 Sara Orangetips, 1 Cabbage White. I also got this shot of the moth Cissusa indiscreta.

Propertius Duskywing Erynnis propertius (Lep.:Hesperiidae) Val George

Cissusa indiscreta (Lep.: Erebidae – Erebinae) Val George

Bill Katz writes: Some moths have finally returned to the garage. This morning (April 29) there were five Alucita montana (Montana Six Plume Moth) in one corner of the garage and on another wall was the first Xanthorhoe defensaria I’ve seen on Summit Hill. Spring Azures, Cabbage Whites and Brown Elfins were in the garden in the afternoon plus a green and brown bug (photo attached). A caterpillar (photo attached) of the Silver-spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa argentata was on the brick wall of the pool house.

Banasa sp. (Hem.:Pentatomidae) Bill Katz

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

Marie O’Shaughnessy photographed a Western Spring Azureat Ten-mile Point on April 23.

Western Spring Azure Celastrina echo (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Marie O’Shaughnessy

Ken Vaughan writes: I was out to Swan Lake this morning (April 28), and found my first true dragonflies. I saw two male California Darners. Also included is a female Pacific Forktail.

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

Pacific Forktail Ischnura cervula (Odo.:Coenagrionidae) Ken Vaughan

Jeremy Tatum shows a caterpillar of Campaea perlata from an alder at UVic, April 28.

Campaea perlata (Lep.: Geometridae)
Jeremy Tatum

2014 April 28
Jeremy Tatum reports a Mourning Cloak from Munn Road, April 26. Rather less welcome the following day was a Bluebottle Fly Calliphora vomitoriain his kitchen.

Bill Katz writes: I was treated to a marvellous view of a backlit Western Brown Elfin in our garden on Summit Hill this afternoon (April 25). Diffraction gave it a striking blue or green edge which I haven’t seen before. The other photo is a Cabbage White in a tapestry of flowers. The butterfly image is relatively small but I wanted to share the shot.
Two common butterflies; two glorious moments. Bill also sends a photograph of the moth Nola minna from Goldstream Park, April 27.

Jeremy Tatum comments: The flowers are, of course, the introduced European Bluebell Hyacinthoides nonscripta. An introduced European butterfly on an introduced European plant. But one can’t deny that it’s a beautiful picture!

Western Brown Elfin Incisalia iroides (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Bill Katz

Cabbage White Pieris rapae (Lep.:Pieridae) Bill Katz

Nola minna (Lep.: Nolidae) Bill Katz

Annie Pang sends poetograms of a bee and a butterfly from Gorge Park, April 27.

Yellow-faced Bumblebee Bombus vosnesenskii (Hym.: Apidae) Annie Pang

Western Spring Azure Celastrina echo (Lep.Lycaenidae) Annie Pang

2014 April 24
Jeff Gaskin writes: On Tuesday, April 22, along the Lochside trail north and south of Blenkinsop Lake there were four Western Spring Azures and that was all.
At Swan Lake also on Tuesday, by the Tuesday Pond were four Satyr Commas, and 1 Mourning Cloak. Three Western Spring Azures were by the nature house and near the parking lot. Finally one Mourning Cloak, and one Western Spring Azure were near the lollipop wharf in front of the nature house. Annie Pang saw a Western Spring Azure at Gorge Park on the same date, but she writes: “it didn’t land – so no pictures”!

Ken Vaughan sends some photos from Swan Lake, April 23. Thanks to Robb Bennett for the identification of the spider. Robb writes: “The beast is a philodromid crab spider. A species of Tibellus; almost certainly T. oblongus, which is very common in BC, especially here on the coast.” I wonder if anyone can identify the flies for us? The first of Ken’s flies looks as though it might be the same species as Rosemary Jorna’s fly on the April 20 posting.

Running crab spider Tibellus sp. (probably oblongus) (Ara.:Philodromidae)
Ken Vaughan

Hover fly (Dip.:Syrphidae) Ken Vaughan

Hover fly (Dip.:Syrphidae) Ken Vaughan

Pacific Forktail Ischnura cervula (Odo.:Coenagrionidae) Ken Vaughan

Yellow-faced Bumblebee Bombus vosnesenskii (Hym.: Apidae)
Kem Vaughan

2014 April 11
Bill Katz shows a Triphosa haesitatafrom Goldstream and a Behrensia conchiformis from Haro Road, April 11. The caterpillar of the first feeds on Cascara, and that of the second on Snowberry. The green reflections from the wings of Behrensia conchiformis fairly scintillate in strong sunlight. Not sure what selective advantage this has, but it must have some!

American Tissue Moth Triphosa haesitata (Lep.:Geometridae) Bill Katz

Behrensia conchiformis (Lep.:Noctuidae)Bill Katz
Jeremy Tatum writes: It seems a bit early in the year to start talking about Lorquin’s Admiral, but on April 9 I couldn’t help noticing, on a willow twig at Blenkinsop Lake, a little hibernaculum – the small folded leaf inside which the first-instar caterpillar of Lorquin’s Admiral spends the winter. The hibernaculum was empty, but, sure enough, I spotted the tiny caterpillar a few inches away on the twig.

Lorquin’s Admiral hibernaculum Jeremy Tatum

Lorquin’s Admiral Limenitis lorquini
Jeremy Tatum

More to be expected at this time of the year is the familiar day-flying moth Mesoleuca gratulata, also found at Blenkinsop Lake on April 9. Its caterpillar feeds on Rubus species.

Mesoleuca gratulata (Lep.:Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

Bill Katz has noted several butterflies at Swan Lake and Summit Hill in the last few days – Mourning Cloaks, Western Spring Azures, Western Brown Elfins and Cabbage Whites.

Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Bill Katz

Western Spring Azure Celastrina echo (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Bill Katz

Western Brown Elfin Incisalia iroides (Lep.:Lycaenidae) Bill Katz

Gerry and Wendy Ansell and Jeremy Tatum report a few Cabbage Whites and a Sara Orangetip from Swan Lake, April 7. Val George reports a Western Tiger Swallowtail and two Cabbage Whites near the Royal British Columbia Museum, also on April 7.

Rosemary Jorna writes: Ticks are out — they found us on both Mt Bluff above Scout Camp Bernard on April 5, and in the Blue Green Belt today. The photo of the tick was taken just before its removal, done during the hike Saturday April 5, 2014 Another was found wandering around another hiker earlier today April 7, 2014. We had been on Flower Ridge. Comma butterflies were active on 2 sunny slopes on flower ridge but moving too fast to photograph. The deer carcass behind the rock at the parking lot in Sooke Potholes Provincial Park April 7) kept two commas [Green Commas, I think – Jeremy Tatum] still enough to catch a photo but still too wary for a close up. A Mourning Cloak was also attracted to the deer but did not settle. The photo is of the Mourning Cloak in the Barnes Station parking lot of the Sooke Potholes Regional Park (April 7 The spider was on the car in the Sooke Potholes Provincial Park lot April 7.
Robb Bennett says that the tick looks a bit like a female of Ixodes pacificus, but he’d need to see the animal and examine it closely to be sure.

Tick Ixodes sp.(Aca.:Ixodidae) Rosemary Jorna

Green Commas Polygonia faunus (Lep.: Nymphalidae) on deer carcass. Rosemary Jorna

Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Rosemary Jorna

Robb Bennett writes: “this is a thomisid crab spider, a species of Xysticus. Can’t tell
what species. Looks like an immature male.

Xysticus sp.(Ara.:Thomisidae) Rosemary Jorna

Jeremy Tatum writes: Here is another Egira curialisfrom my Saanich apartment. Also a lacewing.- thanks to Claudia Copley for identifying it for us.

Egira curialis (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

Lacewing. Nothochrysa californica (Neu.: Chrysopidae) Jeremy Tatum

2014 April 07
Jeremy Tatum writes: The rather conspicuous hairy black flies with dangling dark reddish legs that we see flying around sluggishly in April and May and which occasionally collide with us are bibionid flies. One landed on my Saanich balcony on April 7 asking to be photographed. They are often quite inappropriately called “March” flies. This is inappropriate not only because in Victoria they are more likely to be seen in April and May, but more importantly for the following reason. The most familiar European species was named by Linnaeus Bibio marci. The name marci has nothing to do with the month of March, but it refers to Saint Mark, since the flies traditionally first appear near to St Marks’ Day, April 25, and the flies are more properly called St Marks’ flies. The forward-pointing apical spur at the end of the foreleg tibia distinguishes flies of the genus Bibio from similar genera in the family Bibionidae. Can anyone identify for us the species shown below?

Male St Marks’ fly Bibio sp.(Dip.:Bibionidae) Jeremy Tatum

Here are two pugs, one photographed by Jeremy Tatum in Saanich on April 7, the other photographed by Jeremy Gatten in Metchosin on April 5.

Eupithecia annulata (Lep.: Geometridae) Jeremy Tatum

Eupithecia graefii (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jeremy Gatten

Jeremy Gatten also sends some moths and a beetle from Colwood and Metchosin on April 5.

Lithophane petulca (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Gatten

Xanthorhoe defensaria (Lep.:Geometridae)

Plectrura spinicauda (Col.: Cerambicidae) Jeremy Gatten

Jeremy Tatum reports a Satyr Comma from Lochside Drive north of Blenkinsop Lake on April 4

Bill Katz sends a photograph of Hypena decorata from the Goldstream Nature Houise, which is very productive at the moment.

Hypena decorata (Lep.:Erebidae – Hypeninae) Bill Katz

Gerry and Wendy Ansell found these two bright red net-winged beetles on the grounds of Royal Roads University during a fungus field trip on April 4. Wendy writes: We have seen only three species of butterflies so far this spring – several Mourning Cloaks, several Satyr Commas, and one Sara Orangetip on Mount Douglas.

Dictyopterus simplicipes (Col.: Lycidae) Wendy Ansell

Annie Pang writes on April 5: Happy Spring! I was in the garden today for a while when I saw my first Cabbage White butterfly land on the Pampas Grass that I was cleaning up. I recently received this lovely picture of one of our overwintering and longest lived hibernating butterflies, the Mourning Cloak, from Marie O’Shaughnessy.

The butterfly inspired one of Annie’s delightful poems:

A Mourning Cloak

A lovely April Mourning Cloak
I see come flutter by
awakened by the springtime sun,
this darkened butterfly.
All winter did it hibernate
amidst the cold and frost
but warmed up by the dream of spring
its precious life not lost.
Now it can fly and find a mate
and life will carry on
through those who follow from its seed
long after it is gone.
A lovely lace-trimmed Mourning Cloak
such beauty does it give,
while, in this moment telling me,
I have this life to live…
Annie Pang

Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Marie O’Shaughnessy

Aziza Cooper writes: Today (April 4) at Gore Park in Brentwood Bay, a European Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis), an introduced species, grabbed a Mourning Cloak as it was landing on a Garry Oak trunk. The butterfly was struggling, and my walking companion darted forward and bent a small tree towards the pair. The lizard was frightened by the moving branches and dropped the butterfly. The butterfly flew away, probably leaving a chunk of its wing behind.

There are many more Wall Lizards today than I’ve seen there in former years, and they are in many more locations. Today’s attack seems to indicate that they might be having a negative effect on the native species.

European Wall Lizard with Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa (Lep.: Nymphalidae)
Aziza Cooper

Aziza continues: Today (April 4) at Gore Park I also saw a comma species flying by. Yesterday I saw a Mourning Cloak at Mt. Tolmie summit.

2014 April 3
Val George reports a Western Spring Azure from Oak Bay on March 29.

Bill Katz photographed a pug and a wave in Haro Woods on March 30.

Eupithecia ravocostaliata (Lep.:Geometridae) Bill Katz

Venusia obsoleta/pearsalli (Lep.:Geometridae) Bill Katz

On April 1, Jeremy photographed a Lithophane pertorrida at his Saanichton home.
On April 1, Jeremy photographed a Lithophane pertorrida at his Saanich home.

Lithophane pertorrida (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Gatten

Lithophane pertorrida (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Tatum

Some butterflies are starting to put in an appearance. Aziza Cooper writes: Today (April 1) Moralea and I saw many butterflies at Camas Hill, including 5 Green Commas, 2 Moss’ Elfin, 1 Spring Azure , 1 Sara Orangetip and 3 Mourning Cloaks.  Photos included: Elfin, Green Comma sitting on my hat, and a large moth on a cliff at Camas Hill. I also had a California Tortoiseshell fly by on the Goose Trail near Lindholm Road, and saw four Mourning Cloaks in three locations.

Jeremy Tatum comments: The moths Triphosa haesitata (American Tissue Moth) and Coryphista meadii (Barberry Geometer) are highly variable and extreme examples of the species can be confused. I am pretty sure that Aziza’s moth is Coryphista meadii, and am so labelling it, but I’m willing to be challenged on this!

Green Comma Polygonia faunus (Lep.:Nymphalidae) Moralea Milne

Moss’s Elfin Incisalia mossii (Lep.: Lycaenidae) Aziza Cooper

Coryphista meadii (Lep.:Geometridae) Aziza Cooper

Ken Vaughan, too, sends photos of a butterfly on April 1, as well as two flies and a spider. Thanks to Robb Bennett for identifying the spider and Claudia Copley for identifying the bee fly.

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Aglais milberti (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Ken Vaughan

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Aglais milberti (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Ken Vaughan

Hover fly (Dip.: Syrphidae) Ken Vaughan

Bee fly Bombylius major (Dip.: Bombyliidae) Ken Vaughan

   Robb Bennett writes, of Ken’s spider below:  If someone was holding a gun to my head and demanding an identification on pain of death, I would say it is a female Pardosa vancouveri,  especially if the image was made locally.  P. vancouveri is a Pacific Northwest endemic but, in spite of rather limited range, it is hugely abundant here — the most common small, dark lycosid seen in open areas.  And they are certainly very active. Appearance of numbers of subadult and adult  Pardosas is a sure sign of spring…

Well, I don’t think we need hold a gun to Robb’s head.  His expertise is good enough for us!

Wolf spider Pardosa vancouveri (Ara.:Lycosidae) Ken Vaughan

   But there are yet more moths to show, including our first prominent of the season, a Gluphisia severa  – one of two at Jeremy Gatten’s house in Central Saanich on April 1.

Gluphisia severa (Lep.:Notodontidae) Jeremy Gatten

Cerastis enigmatica (Lep.: Noctuidae) Jeremy Gatten

Egira rubrica (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Gatten

Egira simplex (Lep.:Noctuidae) Jeremy Gatten

Pleromelloida conserta (Lep.:Noctuidae)  Jeremy Gatten

Hypena californica (Lep.: Erebidae – Hypeninae) Jeremy Tatum