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.

2021 June 27

2021 June 27


   Here’s a chrysalis of a Red Admiral from a caterpillar found near Blenkinsop Lake:

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Jeremy Tatum

   Genevieve St Denis writes:  My son and daughter found this unusual caterpillar in our yard, Gorge area of Victoria – a type of sawfly, likely Elm Sawfly.   [Yes – that’s what it is –  JBT]

Elm Sawfly Cimbex americana (Hym.: Cimbicidae)  Genevieve St Denis

   Aziza Cooper writes:  On June 25 at Mt Tolmie summit there were four Painted Ladies, one Western Tiger Swallowtail and three Lorquin’s Admirals.


  On June 26, at Quick’s Bottom, I went to the field halfway along the path between Wilkinson and Markham Roads and found four Ringlets near the fence on the north side. This field is very overgrown with hawthorn.

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Aziza Cooper

Ringlet (aka Large Heath)  Coenonympha tullia (Lep.: Nymphalidae – Satyrinae)  Aziza Cooper

   Jochen Möhr had a nice haul at Metchosin last night:

Pasiphila rectangulata (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr

Male Malacosoma californicum (Lep.: Lasiocampidae)  Jochen Möhr

Female Malacosoma californicum (Lep.: Lasiocampidae)  Jochen Möhr

Lophocampa maculata (Lep.: Erebidae – Arctiinae)  Jochen Möhr

Autographa ampla (Lep.: Noctuidae – Plusiinae) Jochen Möhr

   Here’s a White Satin moth from Swan Lake:

White Satin Moth Leucoma salicis (Lep.: Erebidae – Lymantriinae) Jeremy Tatum

   Aziza Cooper sends photographs of two insects  – the first below from from McMicking Point; the second from Cattle Point.   Jeremy Tatum writes:  I don’t  know what they are.  Under each picture I have put my best attempt at their Genus and Family.

Anthrax (Dip.: Bombyliidae)  Aziza Cooper

Ammophila (Hym.: Sphecidae)  Aziza Cooper

2021 June 26

2021 June 26


   Aziza Cooper writes:  On, June 23 at Swan Lake there were at least ten Lorquin’s Admirals. There was also a small moth above the entrance of the Nature Centre. The afternoon before, June 22, at Swan Lake, I took photos of a bee and an interesting dragonfly with a smoky blue colour [kindly identified by Dr Rob Cannings as a male Blue Dasher – JBT]


Lorquin’s Admiral  Limenitis lorquini (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Aziza Cooper


Eulithis xylina (Lep.: Geometridae)  Aziza Cooper


Honey Bee Apis mellifera (Hym.: Apidae) Aziza Cooper


Male Blue Dasher Pachydiplax longipennis (Odo.: Libellulidae) Aziza Cooper

      Rosemary Jorna photographed this spider in the Kemp Lake area on June 25.  Misidentified by Jeremy Tatum (well, I got the Order right – I knew it was a spider) and properly identified by Dr Robb Bennett.

Crab spider Xysticus sp. (Ara.: Thomisidae)   Rosemary Jorna

   Jochen Möhr sends these from Metchosin:

Male Malacosoma californicum (Lep.: Lasiocampidae)  Jochen Möhr

Female Malacosoma californicum (Lep.: Lasiocampidae)  Jochen Möhr

Yellow Douglas Fir Borer Centrodera spurca (Col.: Cerambycidae)  Jochen Möhr

Brown House Moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella (Lep.:  Oecophoridae)  Jochen Möhr

June 25

2021 June 25

    Jeremy Tatum writes:  This small moth, which I’ll tentatively label Choristoneura occidentalis, came into my apartment yesterday.  In forestry circles its caterpillar is known as the Western Spruce Budworm.  I believe the foresters don’t like it very much.  This is part of a complex coming under the heading “Choristoneura fumiferana (or fumerana) group”  According to Powell and Opler, “the western components defy suitable placement by our nomenclatural system.”

Choristoneura occidentalis (Lep.: Tortricidae)   Jeremy Tatum

I found this caterpillar on a willow at Durrance Lake.   The long fine hairs mark it as Nycteola sp.

The two commonest Nycteola  species here are N. frigidana and N. cinereana.  The caterpillars of frigidana are supposed to feed on Salix and those of cinereana  on Populus – but I don’t know if this is rigidly true.  I’ll label it “probably” frigidana for the moment – but we’ll see when the adult moth emerges.

Nycteola (probably frigidana)  (Lep.: Nolidae)  Jeremy Tatum


And here is a Red Admiral caterpillar, from Stinging Nettle near Blenkinsop Lake.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Jeremy Tatum


On June 1 we posted a photograph by Steven Roias of the caterpillar of a Mouse Moth.  The adult moth emerged today and I released it, after photographing it, at Panama Flats, where there is probably a colony of them.

Mouse Moth Amphipyra tragopoginis (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jeremy Tatum


We referred yesterday to reports of “butterflies” in Uplands Park, although we speculated that these might in fact have been Sheep Moths.  Elizabeth Garrett has since photographed two of them, and indeed that is what they are:

Sheep Moths Hemileuca eglanterina (Lep: Saturniidae) Elizabeth Garrett


Today, in the heat of the day, there are also many Sheep Moths charging at high speed over Mount Tolmie.  More about Mount Tolmie at the end of this posting.

On June 5 we mentioned that Sandringham Care Home on Fort Street had acquired a kit of 29 Painted Lady caterpillars.  The adult butterflies arising from these were released in the Sandringham garden yesterday.  The hope was that they would stay there.  However, the Painted Lady is a long-distance migrant and a powerful flower, so I’m not sure if many will stay.  If any viewer sees any Painted Ladies in that area, please do let us know.

Liam Singh writes:  I just wanted to let you know that I saw at least 5 Black Saddlebags at Swan Lake on June 24. They were about 100m east of the lollipop boardwalk chasing each other. I even saw a pair mating and then laying eggs in the water!  I’ve attached a photo of one that I was able to catch (after waiting two hours for it to fly close enough).  I’ve also attached a photo of a male Common Green Darner that I caught (one of many present).

Black Saddlebags Tramea lacerata (Odo.: Libellulidae)  Liam Singh


Common Green Darner Anax junius (Odo.: Aeshnidae)   Liam Singh

[Jeremy Tatum writes:  In spite of its name, the Common Green Darner, while not rare, is not particularly “common”, and is one of our more spectacular dragonflies.]

Jeff Gaskin writes:  Kirsten Mills and I saw up to 6 Clodius Parnassians in their usual place along Nanaimo River Road around km 9 from the hwy.  This was on June 24 around 2 p.m.

Butterfly enthusiasts are reminded that last year some parnassians were seen that were suspected to be possibly P.smintheus.  Those who see parnassians are asked to keep a sharp look out and see if any of them might be this species.

Jeremy Tatum writes:  I was on Mount Tolmie this morning, and I looked at an interesting large poster near the top, which I hadn’t noticed before, describing the history, natural history and geology of Mount Tolmie.  One thing it said was that the thing that we have been calling the “reservoir” is indeed just that – a water reservoir.  It also said that there are 11 species of butterfly to be seen on Mount Tolmie.  It didn’t list them, but let’s make an attempt now:

  1. Propertius Anglewing
  2. Essex Skipper
  3. Woodland Skipper
  4. Anise Swallowtail
  5. Western Tiger Swallowtail
  6. Pale Tiger Swallowtail
  7. Cabbage White
  8. Sara Orangetip
  9. Purplish Copper
  10. Western Brown Elfin
  11. Grey Hairstreak
  12. Western Spring Azure
  13. California Tortoiseshell
  14. Mourning Cloak
  15. Painted Lady
  16. West Coast Lady
  17. Red Admiral

Wow!  That’s 17!  Are there more I should add?

Geologically much of Mount Tolmie is Wark gneiss, so we can look forward to a nice walk on the Wark gneiss.

2021 June 24

2021 June 24


   Jeremy Tatum writes:  We are still having computer problems with Invertebrate Alert.  Until the problem is solved, Invert Alert service may be somewhat erratic, and we may not be able to post new contributions as quickly as we would like.

   Jochen Möhr writes from Metchosin on June 22 that he saved a Cinnabar Moth Tyria jacobaeae from drowning in his dog Lorbas’s water dish.   Other than that he continues to see many Cabbage Whites and several Swallowtails – Pale and definitely Anise.  He also saw his first Lorquin’s Admiral.  He sends a picture of his resident Lorquin’s Admiral.


Lorquin’s Admiral Limenitis lorquini (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Jochen Möhr

   Cheryl Hoyle sends two photographs from her yard in View Royal:

Leafhopper nymphs (Hem.: Cicadellidae)   Cheryl Hoyle

Male Malacosoma californicum (Lep.: Lasiocampidae) Cheryl Hoyle

   Jeremy Tatum writes: We have had recent reports of brightly-coloured butterflies in Uplands Park, though we think it possible that some of these observations might actually have been of Sheep Moths.  If viewers visit the Park, perhaps they’d let us know what they see.

  On June 22, Jeff Gaskin saw in Layritz Park 5 Common Ringlets and 31 Essex Skippers.  He writes that another Ringlet was at Quick’s Bottom.  Lorquin’s Admirals are very plentiful now   –  he had a total of 26 on June 22  in the northern half of Colquitz River Park, which includes Copley Park.  On June 21, he saw a total of 36 in southern portions of Colquitz River Park which includes Hyacinth, Swan Creek, and Cuthbert Holmes Park.


   Val George writes:   Yesterday, June 23, I checked out Nanaimo River Road. for butterflies.  In an hour or so there I saw:  5 Clodius Parnassians, about a dozen Western Tiger Swallowtails, 2 Pale Tiger Swallowtails, 2 Cabbage Whites, one Western Spring Azure, and a comma that wouldn’t settle to allow me to determine its species.

   On June 23 Judy Spearing saw (and provided a good description of!) a Mourning Cloak caterpillar crossing over a path in the Vanalman/Copley Park area heading to the grassy area and then a wood fence.  Maybe looking for a fence to pupate on?

   Steven Roias reports that a while back a Polyphemus Moth laid some eggs on a table umbrella.  Now one of the eggs has hatched (and the rest are doubtless doing so even as I type) – so he now has a problem!

June 21

2021 June 21

    Dr Cara Gibson sends a photograph of a chrysalis of a Mourning Cloak that she found on a pepper plant on June 8.

Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa (Lep.: Nymphalidae)

She also sends a photograph of a Polyphemus Moth, from just above the door of the Swan Lake Nature House on June 11.

Polyphemus Moth Antheraea polyphemus (Lep.: Saturniidae)  Cara Gibson

Val George sends a photograph of a crab spider from his Oak Bay garden, June 20.

Crab spider Misumena vatia (Ara.: Thomisidae)  Val George

Aziza Cooper writes:  Yesterday, Sunday, June 20, I found at least four Field Crescents in an overgrown field near the Tsartlip Cemetery on West Saanich Road. Two of the Crescents were mating.  One Essex Skipper was also there.

Access to the field is from the back left corner of the cemetery area.  It is choked with hawthorn and blackberry canes, so dress in heavy fabrics! The path is a game trail which curves eventually to the left where there is an opening with the butterflies. The Tsartlip Cemetery is just south of the Our Lady of Assumption Church Cemetery.

I didn’t visit the other known sites for Field Crescents, including Eddy’s Self Storage on Stelly’s Cross Road.  Next door to that site are two big new apartment buildings built on former fields.

[Jeremy Tatum writes:  This butterfly has borne several scientific names.  There are difficulties in frequently changing the name on this site, so we are retaining the name pratensis.  An alternative name is P. pulchella.]

Field Crescent Phyciodes pratensis (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Aziza Cooper

Field Crescents Phyciodes pratensis (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Aziza Cooper

Field Crescents Phyciodes pratensis (Lep.: Nymphalidae) Aziza Cooper

Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola (Lep.: Hesperiidae)   Aziza Cooper


Jeremy Tatum sends a photograph of a caterpillar from a willow at Durrance Lake.  The moth resulting from this caterpillar will spend the winter in the adult state, and will then be one of the first moths to herald in the spring next year – hence the name Herald for this moth.

Herald Moth  Scoliopteryx libatrix (Lep.: Erebidae – Scoliopteryginae)   Jeremy Tatum