Marie O'Shaughnessy sends some lovely photos of butterflies taken yesterday on Mount Tolmie (Sara Orangetip) and Mount Douglas (Spring Azure and Propertius Duskywing).
Isn't that Orangetip in flight just wonderful! She also sends photos of the Northern Alligator Lizard, and I had to resist the temptation to post them here. Anyone care to set up a "herp" website?
Female Sara Orangetip Marie O'Shaughnessy
Female Sara Orangetip Marie O'Shaughnessy
Male Spring Azure Marie O'Shaughnessy
Female Spring Azure Marie O'Shaughnessy
Propertius Duskywing Marie O'Shaughnessy
Propertius Duskywing Marie O'Shaughnessy
Wendy Ansell sends a photo of a caterpillar of a Silver-spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa argentata from Goldstream Park yesterday.
A friend telephoned me yesterday from the Fairfield area of Victoria, and said she had found several moth pupae while she was digging in her garden. How exciting! I can't wait to find out what they are going to be. Identifying noctuid moths from their pupae is not easy, but I think I could wager a small sum that these are pupae of the European Large Yellow Underwing moth, Noctua pronuba. Keep your eye on this site for a few weeks to find out whether I was right! Jeremy Tatum.
Now that we have got this website underway, I want to acknowledge the great help of Ann Nightingale in getting it established. As a bit of a computer dunce, I could not possibly have done this without her computer expertise and the time she put into it. Jeremy Tatum.
Just the sort of thing you want to find in your salad, writes Jeremy Tatum. This is the caterpillar of the European Lesser Yellow Underwing moth, Noctua comes, found today at Playfair Park, Saanich.
Lesser Yellow Underwing Noctua comes Lep.: Noctuidae Jeremy Tatum
Marie O'Shaughnessy sends a photo of a Propertius Duskywing perched on Camas at the top of Observatory hill on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2010 around 10 am. It was alone except for two Sara Orangetips that were also seen there flitting around but would not settle - so no picture.
Propertius Duskywing Erynnis propertius Lep.: Hesperiidae Marie O'Shaughnessy
Terry Thormin writes: I spent some time both on Wednesday and Thursday photographing insects and other arthropods at Point Holmes in Comox. The place was alive with insects and these are some of the ones I found. The andrenid bees were quite common on the gold star flowers. Although the air temperature was only 14 degrees and tiger beetles need a temp of 17 to become active, the full sun on the slope of the dune was heating up the sand to at least that and thus the beetles were active. The wolf spider is an introduced species originally from Europe. Robb Bennett identified it for me. The thread-waisted wasp was actively hauling a caterpillar down a burrow when I first saw it. Unfortunately I did not get a photo with the caterpillar, only catching it later as it closed off the burrow. I have been seeing this wasp for at least the last 2 weeks but could not photograph it until today. Both the ground beetle and the termites were found under a log I turned over.
Andrena sp. Hym.: Andrenidae Terry Thormin
Tiger beetle Cicindela oregona
Col.: Cicindelidae [or Carabidae (Cicindelinae)] Terry Thormin
Wolf spider Arctosa perita Aran.: Lycosidae Terry Thormin
Thread-waisted wasp Podalonia sp. Hym.: Sphecidae Terry Thormin
Ground beetle Col.: Carabidae Terry Thormin
Worker termite Isoptera Terry Thormin
For our first beetle on this site, Bill Savale reports numerous grubs of the chrysomelid beetle Pyrrhalta viburni skeletonizing the leaves of a Viburnum in Saanich today.
Annie Pang writes: The two female Spring Azures were taken on Monday April 19 on Christmas Hill as was the female Sara Orangetip. They were NOT easy to get as it was very warm and they did not want to land, but then they did, briefly. Lucky me! The Anise Swallowtail was taken on Sunday April 18th on Seymour Hill opposite Thetis Lake.
Female Spring Azure
Female Spring Azure
Female Sara Orangetip
Jeremy Tatum writes: I suppose I'd better photograph a caterpillar of the Winter Moth Operophtera brumata and get it over with. Also another common green caterpillar to be found at this time of year, the noctuid Aseptis binotata. Both from Mount Tolmie, on Ocean Spray, April 21.
Annie Pang reports Sara Orangetips, Spring Azures, a Propertius Duskywing and an Anise Swallowtail at Thetis Lake on April 18. The following day she saw Spring Azures, Sara Orangetips and a Propertius Duskywing on the 19th, while Gerry Ansell reports a Brown Elfin and a Sara Orangetip from Cordova Ridge, and an Anise Swallowtail from Uplands Park.
Annie sends a photo of a White Ribbon Carpet Moth Mesoleuca gratulata nectaring at a Fawn Lily Erythronium oreganum at Swan Lake on April 11, and one ovipositing on Bramble, and two California Tortoiseshells from Mount Tolmie on the same date.
Butterflies still do not seem to be abundant, in spite of the warmer weather, though I did at last see my first Spring Azure yesterday at Saanichton Bay Park. On the 18th, I photographed the caterpillar of a Silver-spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa argentata at Playfair Park, Saanich.
Terry Tormin writes: I walked part of the Tsolum River trail in Courtenay yesterday and saw lots of insects, mostly flies and hymenoptera. I have included photos of four insects, two flies and two hyms. that I was able to get names for. The March fly was busy cleaning its wings on the flower stalk of a white fawn lily, and gave me lots of time for photos. The other three were present in small numbers, probably only 2 or 3 of each that I could see. I also included a photo of a sowbug, just to expand beyond the insect focus.
Seeing Terry's photo of a dung fly reminds me that on March 12 I posted a note about the spectacular numbers of Yellow Dung Flies Scatophaga flava at the Lochside pig farm. There are still a few there, though not many, but my spelling needs a bit of attention. Seems that there is a fish family called Scatophagidae, so the dung fly family is nowadays spelled Scathophagidae. In any case, the taxonomists have been busy changing names (both genus and species, as well as the spelling), so I’m not sure what this year's name is. Let's just settle for Yellow Dung Fly for those flies at the pig farm.
Silver-spotted Tiger Moth
Terry Thormin writes from his home in Comox: Here is a photo I took yesterday of Polistes dominula. I also took a photo of Vespula pensylvanica at the same time, both on the leaves of the Rhododendron bush in the front of my house. This should make for a good comparison, showing the difference in the body shape and the colour of the antennae. The Phidippus borealis. was also photographed on the rhodo. The digger bee was photographed at Point Holmes. It was in the process of digging a burrow in the sand at the base of a piece of driftwood. I need to get confirmation on the genus of the digger bee. Possibly Habropoda sp.
European Paper Wasp
Western Yellow Jacket
Boreal Jumping Spider
Terry Thormin reports a sighting of the European vespid wasp Polistes dominula from outside his house in Comox on April 12. Also his first butterfly of the year - a Spring Azure in Courtenay on April14. I even managed to see a couple of butterflies myself on the 14th - an Anise Swallowtail and a Cabbage White on Mount Tolmie. Annie Pang sends a photo of a Propertius Duskywing from Mount Tolmie on April 11.
In the last couple of days Derrick Marven has had a good selection of butterflies in his garden at North Cowichan. Several Cabbage Whites, Sara Orangetips, Spring Azures, Satyr Anglewings, Brown Elfins. Not bad!
In spite of the cool weather, Spring Azures, Sara Orangetips and White Ribbon Carpet Moths Mesoleuca gratulata are now being generally reported from several locations. (I have yet to see a Spring Azure or an Orangetip myself!) And John Pang reports a California Tortoiseshell and the season's first Propertius Duskywing seen by him and Annie yesterday at Mount Tolmie. We all wish Annie a speedy recovery from her over-exertions, so that we can see more of her splendid poetographs.
A few butterflies braved yesterday's cold wind, which is more than I did. Barry Camp reports a Sara Orangetip from Observatory Hill, while John Pang saw a Spring Azure at Gorge Park, and another two, plus four Cabbage Whites at Glendale Gardens. Barry Camp reports an early Cabbage White at Royal Victoria Yacht Club on April 2.
This cold weather is keeping most sensible invertebrates indoors, but here is a caterpillar of the plutellid moth Euceratia castella (a "micro") from near Blenkinsop Lake this morning. There are lots of these caterpillars on the Snowberry now, and the little white moths will be seen in about a month's time. Jeremy Tatum
Derrick Marven saw his first Cabbage White for the Cowichan Valley yesterday at Providence Farm. Claudia Copley identifies Terry Thormin's bee fly (see his photograph of April 1) as Bombylius major.
Here are two geometrid caterpillars, one from Knockan Hill on Ocean Spray on Monday, and one from Mount Douglas Beach Park on Snowberry today. Tentatively identified, let’s say with 85 percent certainty, as Hesperumia latipennis and Neoalcis californiaria.
Notice: On May 1, I intend to remove all March contributions to the site. I am assuming that the photographers retain their original images. Those who would like to keep a record of what has been posted, should do so before the end of this month. I am not planning at present to archive contributions permanently (though this could change), so I shall just erase them from my computer. If contributions keep coming at the present rate, I shall keep a month's worth at a time. When two monthsÃ‚’ worth have accumulated, I'll erase the earlier month, and leave one months worth.
Mary Robichaud reports two Spring Azures at Devonian Park on March 31, and a Sara Orangetip on Mount Douglas on March 23.
A cool Easter weekend wasn't very good for butterfly sightings, but during a brief sunny period on April 5 Cabbage Whites were busy laying eggs on a species of Lepidium (pepperweed) just beginning to poke out of the ground at Quick's Bottom, while Ian Cruickshank saw a California Tortoiseshell hilltopping on Babbington Hill, and Derrick Marven had a Sara Orangetip in his garden in Duncan.
Ian photographed a couple of geometrid moths on Babbington Hill on April 5. With the usual proviso that some moths are difficult and I may be wrong (though I wouldn't put a name to them unless I was close to certain), I (Jeremy Tatum) believe these to be Hydriomena irata and Melanolophia imitata. On Knockan Hill I saw a full-grown final instar caterpillar of the geometrid moth Neoalcis californiaria, but it was dead, having been recently assassinated by an Assassin Bug (Reduviidae), which was at the scene of the crime, sucking the life-juices from the unfortunate caterpillar.
Annie Pang sends some more of her delightful butterfly photos and poetographs. Two Spring Azures with their wings open, both from Glendale Gardens, on March 27 and on April 8. Also a Satyr Anglewing from Logan Park on March 27, and a Cabbage White from Glendale Gardens on April 5.
One of our problems is that no two books and no two authorities use exactly the same names, English or scientific, for our butterflies, and this site was not long opened when contributors were using different names. I have therefore been faced with making a decision, so I post below a list of the names and spellings that I expect to use (unless it causes an enormous uproar!). I have chosen some of the names for good reasons, some for bad reasons, and some for no particular reason at all! I shall be writing an article for The Victoria Naturalist explaining my reasons (or lack thereof!) for my choices.
I am torn between saying on the one hand that I'd prefer this site to be used for reporting our sightings rather than engaging in public debate, and on the other hand feeling that I don't want to suppress discussion on the subject, or deny anyone the opportunity of expressing an opinion. So let's say that I'd welcome feedback, but try to keep it to really important points where you think I've made a Big Mistake. Also, if you do want to send a comment on the names to me (jtatum AT uvic.ca), let me know whether your comments are "for my eyes only" or whether you'd like them to appear on the site for others to consider. You might also like to wait until you have seen my detailed reasons in The Victoria Naturalist. And do remember that it will be very hard to come up with a list that absolutely everyone is happy with for every species.
Western Pine Elfin
Terry Thormin writes: I was out walking the Tsolum River trails just north of Courtenay yesterday and photographed these three insects. There were lots of bee flies, all looking the same, and several andrenid mining bees, as well as other flies and bees. I only saw the one thick-headed fly though. It was identified as Myopa by Matthias Buck. I have still not seen my first butterfly up here.
Viewers who enjoy Terry's photos can see a whole lot more of them at www.pbase.com/terrythormin
Mining bee, Andrena sp.
Bee fly, Bombylius sp.
Thick-headed fly, Myopa sp.