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.

June 20

2021 June 20

    Summer starts at 8:32 pm PDT this evening.

Jeremy Tatum writes:  Just as we have (more or less) sorted out our recent computer problems, my car has developed problems.  This means that for the rest of this week there will probably be delays in posting Invert Alert contributions.  So, if your contribution does not immediately appear, that will be the reason; it will eventually appear.

Jochen Möhr sends a photograph of Stenoporpia excelsaria  from Metchosin yesterday morning.

Stenoporpia excelsaria (Lep.: Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr


Jeremy Tatum sends a photograph of a male White Satin Moth that was outside his Saanich apartment this morning.  A caterpillar of this species was shown in yesterday’s Invert Alert.

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


Here are photographs of two comma butterflies, which emerged from their chrysalides in the last few days.  Commas habitually rest face downwards.   Both are females.  Unfortunately I didn’t manage to photograph the uppersides.  The colour renderings are, I think, accurate.

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

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


Jeremy Tatum writes:  Yesterday, in the late afternoon, I visited Mount Tolmie and I saw Anise, Western Tiger and Pale Tiger Swallowtail, Painted Lady, Lorquin’s Admiral, Essex Skipper and Cabbage White.


   Val George sends photos of the two tiger swallowtails, suggesting that I show them side-by-side to show the features that I mentioned in the June 18 posting.  Alas, my computer skills are only up to showing them one above the other!   Viewers will notice that I prefer, on this site, to retain the name “tiger” for both species – some recent authors drop the “tiger” from eurymedon.

Western Tiger Swallowtail  Papilio rutulus (Lep.: Papilionidae)  Val George

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


Cheryl  Hoyle sends a photograph of a katydid (also known as bush cricket) from her back yard in View Royal yesterday.  Jeremy Tatum writes:  I’m no expert on katydids (or on anything else for that matter), but I believe this one is probably Meconema thalassina.  We don’t see many katydids here, and I believe this species, the one most often seen, is not native to our area.


Meconema thalassina (Orth.:  Tettigoniidae)  Cheryl Hoyle

June 19 morning


2021 June 19 morning


June Butterfly Count.  Message from Gordon Hart.


Hello, Butterfly Enthusiasts ,

The June count period starts today, Saturday June 19 until Sunday June 27. This is an informal census of butterfly numbers and species in Greater Victoria. The area is defined by the Christmas Bird Count circle, extending from Victoria to Brentwood Bay and Island View Road in Central Saanich, and west to Happy Valley and Triangle Mountain, and Langford Lake and Goldstream areas.

You can submit a count any time over the count period, just use a separate form for each count and location. In the case of repeat or duplicate counts, I will use the higher numbers. To submit counts, please use the form on the VNHS website at:

If you have difficulty with the form, please send me an email with the information.

Thank-you for submitting your sightings and good luck with your count.


Gordon Hart,

Butterfly Count Coordinator,

Victoria Natural History Society



   Jeremy Tatum writes:  Yesterday, June 18, I saw the first moth at the light at my apartment door in Saanich since March, and it turned out to be just one of the abundant lackey moths or an adult “tent caterpillar”, Malacosoma sp.    The question is: Which one?   Last July I tried to photograph both sexes of both Malacosomas, though I never succeeded in photographing a male M. disstria.  This one is a male Malacosoma californicum.


Malacosoma californicum (Lep.: Lasiocampidae)  Jeremy Tatum

  I brought in some Stinging Nettle for some Satyr Comma caterpillars that I am rearing, and I got an unexpected surprise when I found another caterpillar, shown below, on the nettles.  Followers of this site will not need to be told what genus this caterpillar belongs to.

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


Cheryl Hoyle Sends a photograph of a caterpillar she found on a willow in her back yard in View Royal yesterday:

White Satin Moth Leucoma salicis (Lep.: Erebidae – Lymantriinae)  Cheryl Hoyle

July 18

2021 June 18

   Marie O’Shaughnessy was up at Mount Tolmie on June 16 around 6 pm and she saw 2 Painted Ladies as well as 3 Western Tiger Swallowtails  feasting on blossoms of the Blackberry bushes and Mock Orange. The Painted Lady was on the concrete reservoir at the summit. She also saw a Sheep Moth caterpillar.

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


Jeremy Tatum comments:  This, I think, is an unmistakeable rutuluseurymedon is much paler and the black stripes are thicker.   Nevertheless, observers, including myself, sometimes find that we are not certain which of our two species of tiger swallowtail we are seeing.  Is the backfround colour pale enough for eurymedon?  Is it yellow enough for rutulus?  Are the black stripes thick enough for eurymedon?  Thin enough for rutulus?  Here are two criteria that I use, in addition to the paleness or brightness of the yellow.  Viewers may see a recent close-up of eurymedon on May 27 morning.


  1. Look at the first (proximal – i.e. starting from the body) yellow stripe.  In rutulus it is wider than the adjacent (next outward) black stripe.  In eurymedon it is narrower.


  1. Look at the crescent immediately at the base of the “tail” on the hindwing.  In rutulus it is yellow.  It eurymedon it is red.


I don’t guarantee that from now on no one (especially not myself) will ever be uncertain again! Maybe, by looking at the two pictures, viewers can suggest other useful criteria.


Also photographed by Marie:


Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Lep.: Nymphalidae)  Marie O’Shaughnessy


Sheep Moth Hemileuca eglanterina (Lep.: Saturniidae) Marie O’Shaughnessy


This caterpillar, warns Jeremy Tatum, can give you a rash if you handle it.


The following day, June 17, Jeremy Tatum reported three Painted Ladies near the Jeffery Pine on Mount Tolmie, 6:00 pm.


Jeff Gaskin writes:  Kirsten Mills and I saw a rather ragged Satyr Comma on June 16, at Beckwith Park.   It was near the ponds.


Rosemary Jorna had a productive June 17 in the Kemp Lake area and Sooke Potholes:


Goldenrod Crab Spider , Kemp Lake area

Azure, Sooke Potholes
Azure, Kemp Lake area
Swallowtail,Kemp Lake area


Golden Rod Crab Spider Misumena vatia (Ara.: Thomisidae)  Rosemary Jorna


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


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


OK!, writes Jeremy Tatum – before you look at the label on the next one  – were you paying attention?!

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










June 17


2021 June 17

    Jeremy Tatum writes:  Moths in their several stages have to exercise several strategies to avoid being eaten by predators.  The caterpillar of the moth Behrensia conchiformis, and also the cocoon that it spins in which to pupate, adopts the very simple expedient of being invisible.  Below is a photograph of the cocoon of Behrensia conchiformisThere’s no point in staring at it.  It is invisible.


Cocoon of Behrensia conchiformis  (Lep.: Noctuidae)  Jeremy Tatum

     Here are two recent geometrids from Jochen Möhr in Metchosin.   One can appreciate how difficult it is to sort all these moths out!  Thanks to Libby Avis for doing so.


Spargania magnoliata (Lep.:  Geometridae)  Jochen Möhr



Hydriomena californiata/marinata  (Lep.: Geometridae

   Gordon Hart and Jeremy Tatum saw several Essex Skippers at Panama Flats this afternoon, June 17.


June 16 afternoon

2021 June 16 afternoon


   Here’s a varied selection of insects that came in during the last few days while Invert Alert has been having computer problems.


fly caught in mid-hover at 1/3000 second by Gordon Hart.  Jeremy Tatum writes that in the original version of this posting, he had wrongly identified it as a probable Eristalis (Syrphidae).   We are grateful to Claudia Copley for pointing out that it is actually a tabanid of the genus Hybomitra.  Coincidentally, Jeremy Tatum saw a similar one in Goldstream Park on July 11.  It was remarkable how accurately it hovered every bit as well as a syrphid.  The Syrphidae include the attractive flower flies and hover flies (and a few less attractive ones such as the Narcissus Bulb Fly).   The Tabanidae include horse flies and other very painful biting flies.


Hybomitra sp.  (Dip.: Tabanidae) Gordon Hart


A Cardinal Meadowhawk in characteristic pose at Panama Flats:


Cardinal Meadowhawk Sympetrum illotum  (Odo.: Libellulidae)  Gordon Hart


A male Purplish Copper  at Goldstream River, May 29, photographed by Ron Flower.



Male Purplish Copper Lycaena helloides (Lep.: Lycaenidae)



The first reported Essex Skipper of the season, seen by Val George at Cowichan Bay, June 14.


Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola (Lep.: Hesperiidae)  Val George


A long-horned beetle seen on Yarrow by Leah Ramsay.   Thanks to Scott Gilmore for the identification.



Toxoleptura vexatrix (Col.:  Cerambycidae)   Leah Ramsay

A hawk moth that we don’t often see, photographed by Jochen Möhr in Metchosin.

Paonias excaecata (Lep.: Sphingidae)  Jochen Möhr