European imported fire ant. Photo by Gary Alpert, Harvard University, via

The European imported fire ant is one of many introduced insect species that are getting comfortable in the Victoria area.

In Germany earlier this year, a woman called the police after her doorbell rang repeatedly in the night, terrifying her. The cops apprehended the culprit—an ant nest built tight into the doorbell was tripping the switch.

My friend experienced a similar problem. Her home-security system spontaneously and repeatedly went off over a period of several months. It usually rang during the day, when she was at work. The alarm would signal the alarm company. The alarm company would notify the police. The police would come by and find nothing amiss. Telephone calls and letters from the company to my friend would follow. My friend would—again and again—call in technicians to find the problem.

It turns out the problem had eight legs and a dime-sized body, and liked to hide in crannies….

Read the rest of this editorial in the Victoria Times Colonist….

Milky Way Galaxy. Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Milky Way Galaxy. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Today is International Astronomy Day. While amateur astronomers around the world will spend the day and evening extolling and exploring the wonders of the night sky, Victoria’s chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has additional reason to celebrate. After a year of planning, the society and the municipality of Oak Bay have designated our own Cattle Point as the first urban star park in western Canada.

Cattle Point, Oak Bay. Photo by Evan Leeson,

At night, Cattle Point (see here in the evening) remains a dark refuge within the Greater Victoria urban area. Photo by Evan Leeson,

Star parks conserve and promote dark skies and the ability to see the stars. They form part of an international initiative to draw awareness to light pollution and its effects on health and quality of life. Star parks in urban areas are rare, due to nearby city lights.

Canada’s only other urban star park is located in Saint John, N.B. Canada’s 14 other dark-sky preserves are found in rural or wilderness areas.

“We’re lucky here,” says Mark Bohlman, who leads the Victoria initiative. “We can see the stars when the weather’s good. There are very few other places in North American cities where you can see the Milky Way.”


Read the rest of this column in the Victoria Times Colonist


 Other sources, this editorial:

Victoria sky-light quality map