Harvester from the DC Annual Count at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens [2014 Aug. 17, Tom Stock]

Harvester from the DC Annual Count at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens [2014 Aug. 17, Tom Stock]

A couple of very interesting finds in the region this week that suggests we may have a strong finish to this middling 2014 season.

Four Bronze Coppers were sighted (with Salt-marsh Skippers) along Raymond Pool at Bombay Hook NWR in DE last weekend, nectaring on second-blush dogbane. This is same area that had Salt-marsh and Broad-winged Skippers two weeks ago, and that occasionally also sports Great Purple Hairstreak (although that has been an uncommon find this year, after a pretty good flight in 2013). Numbers of Great Purple Hairstreak were down on the recent Dismal Swamp Count as well. Both the hairstreak and the coppers will fly well into early fall.

Closer to home, in Harford Co MD, comes a report of the county’s first record of Giant Swallowtail, a single adult that seemed to be just moving on through. And a second Giant Swallowtail report came early in the week from near Route 15 just shy of the PA line in Frederick Co MD. In PA itself there were reports of this swallowtail from both Wyoming and Northampton Cos.

And closer still, on the DC Annual Count last weekend, spotters found a textbook White Admiral high in the trees at the Washington Youth Garden of the US National Arboretum. At the other site in the count circle, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, the team had a single Harvester plus numerous Appalachian Browns and a Broad-winged Skipper. Both locations were overrun with Southern Broken-dashes: 2014 had a record high count of 63 between the two locations. Little Glassywing was numerous as well, with a conservative 49 observed. A single White-M (in its go-to spot for this species near the large stand of clethra near the entrance to the Arboretum’s Fern Valley) and 11 Red-banded Hairstreaks were also logged. The first flight of Red-banded was somewhat skimpy but this brood seems quite robust; in New England they’ve been especially common this month.

Even dipping on a number of usual “gimme” species for this location (for example, we had only one sulphur species, no ladies, no emperors, no buckeyes), the species total for this count was still the highest ever at 36. Hayhurst’s Scallopwing, usually a fixture on this count, was not seen.

Ocola Skipper made its first local appearances at several locations in the DC area this week. Several Fiery Skippers were in the reports, as were assorted other grass skippers: Sachem, Crossline, Zabulon (with fresh females now flying as well) and Peck’s. Lantana is the big draw at this point of the season. Leonard’s Skipper is just out in PA so is likely on the wing now or soon will be at its Soldiers Delight MD redoubt.

While we have yet to see numbers of these, there has been a veritable explosion in VA and the Carolinas of Sleepy Orange and Common Buckeye; a little southerly flow and we should be seeing better flights of these migratory species here in the mid-Atlantic.

While they aren’t leps, DC/Baltimore readers might enjoy participating in the 2014 Cricket Crawl project Friday night (weather permitting), a sound census for eight target cricket and katydid species. See http://pick18.pick.uga.edu/cricket/DC/ for details.

Looks like Sunday will be a decent day for leps this weekend, so if you’re in the field please remember to post or send your sightings for the next Weekend Forecast. In the meantime, visit us at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

 

Salt-marsh Skipper on goldenrod at Bombay Hook NWR DE [2014 Aug. 9, photo by Beth Johnson]

Salt-marsh Skipper on goldenrod at Bombay Hook NWR DE [2014 Aug. 9, photo by Beth Johnson]

The summer broods are winding down in the mid-Atlantic, but migrant and local fall skippers are beginning to pick up. In fact, the last week or so has seen some normalcy return to both diversity and numbers for local leps.

DuskywingsHorace’s and Wild Indigo – are well out in fresh broods now, and a number of the grass skippers are also flying in good numbers. Sachem remains in relatively short supply, but Peck’s and Zabulon continue to build. Fiery Skipper is reported from numerous locations, as is Southern Broken-dash. The southerly winds of the past week haven’t brought much our way, but the cold front that arrived last night and some persistent north winds over the weekend could bring us Brazilian Skipper (showing up well into Virginia, and spottily in NJ), Ocola Skipper (many locations in VA), and other southern specialties. No reports anywhere in the mid-Atlantic yet of Long-tailed Skipper, but it should be looked for over the next month or so, especially on zinnia and lantana. Silver-spotted Skipper is having a banner late-summer flight. Hayhurst’s Scallopwing and Common Sootywing are in the air now.

Cloudless Sulphur is beginning to make appearances locally with three at Bombay Hook NWR last weekend. Salt-marsh Skipper and Broad-winged Skipper were also observed there, as were more than 100 Monarchs, most in mint condition so likely recent local emergences. I’m suspecting we’ll have a pretty decent fall migration of Monarchs along the coast this year.

No new Giant Swallowtail reports locally this week, but in the Northeast – especially CT – there’s been another explosion of Giants over the past two weeks.

While the great fritillary species are declining for the season, there’s been a good upward spike of Variegated Fritillary at several local areas. Gulf Fritillary has not made much of an appearance in the Carolinas or VA yet.

Among the hairstreaks, only Red-banded and Gray were reported locally this week, with White M and Juniper Hairstreak on the South Jersey Butterfly B/Log. While no Bronze Coppers have been reported recently in MD or DE, there were fresh ones flying in NJ. American Copper has shown up on a number of field expeditions this week.

Both Ladies American and Painted – have been hard to come by this week, as they have been all season. Low counts of Buckeyes continue to trickle in.

Local counts this weekend include the Howard County Ode Count on Saturday (contact Beth Johnson, coordinator, at bajohnsonjohnson@verizon.net or 301-949-6338) and the annual DC NABA Count on Sunday at the US National Arboretum (contact Tom Stock, coordinator, at altomomatic@verizon.net).

Looks like a superb Saturday and most of Sunday from the weekend forecast, so I’m hoping for good reports next week. Please remember to post or send your sightings for the next Weekend Forecast. In the meantime, visit us at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

 

A European Peacock that somehow found its way to the garden of David Amadio in southern NJ on August 3.  See story for link

A European Peacock that somehow found its way to the garden of David Amadio in southern NJ on August 3. See story for link to his account of this sighting!

The southern skipper migration seems to have started, with reports of Fiery Skippers from Silver Spring and from the Glendening Butterfly Garden in Anne Arundel Co MD. Can Long-tailed and Ocola Skippers be far behind?  Variegated Fritillaries are showing up more regularly, but we’re still missing those iconic late-summer Cloudless Sulphurs. A few Buckeyes have been making their way up the coast and have been seen in small numbers locally.

The dicey weather last weekend kept the number of reported sightings to a minimum, but Salt-marsh Skippers were out in numbers in the marshes below Blackwater NWR in Dorchester Co MD. Checkered Whites and Common Checkered-skippers are on the wing, reported from several locations, and more reports of Juniper Hairstreaks trickled in from around the region. One of the reports came from the NJ Audubon Society’s butterfly garden in Goshen, where Rare, Broadwinged, and Aaron’s Skippers were also all flying last weekend. Both Northern and Southern Broken-dashes have been reported up and down the region.

Maryland’s expanding population of Carolina Satyrs in St. Mary’s and Charles Counties is out in a fresh brood, and observers who saw them also saw Painted Lady, fresh Red-banded Hairstreaks, and fresh Zabulon Skippers.

Now is the time to look again for Giant Swallowtail along the Potomac and in the Sideling Hill Creek drainage in Allegany Co. MD. It’s been a tough one to spot the past couple of years. One was reported visiting flowers in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s butterfly garden last Friday, but other observers saw what may have been a different, probably tropical (and therefore probably escaped from the Butterfly House) large butterfly that superficially resembled a Giant Swallowtail but was too frenetic for photos or ID. The butterfly has not been observed by folks who went looking for it this week.

But such rarities do show up. Readers might enjoy Dave Amadio’s report on the South Jersey Butterfly B/Log of a European Peacock butterfly on the tithonia in his West Deptford NJ (Gloucester Co) garden. That’s one of his photos featured above.

Also on our watch list this week is White Admiral. There is a pending report on eButterfly of a handful of these all clustered around some mineral source on July 1 at Ft. McHenry in Baltimore. Anyone planning a trip to the Inner Harbor this weekend should keep their eyes out for this color morph! Fresh Red Admirals are being reported throughout the region.

No local NABA counts are scheduled for this weekend.

If you do see these butterflies – or anything else interesting! — please remember to post or send your sightings for the next Weekend Forecast. In the meantime, visit us at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

Brazilian Skipper photographed in 2012 in Raleigh NC [REB]

Brazilian Skipper photographed in 2012 in Raleigh NC [REB]

We’re well into second or even third broods for a number of our local species, and for some of these the later broods seem to be returning to near-normal numbers after sparse spring flights.

Last weekend at Occoquan NWR in Woodbridge VA, for example, there were high numbers of Red Admiral, Little Wood-satyr, and two FOY for the area Sleepy Oranges (which have since been reported elsewhere in the area). A large flush of new, very fresh Silvery Checkerspots was also coming into flight. Also seen in large numbers there were Common Wood-nymphs and smaller numbers of other summer species. Of particular note were good populations of Appalachian Brown, which also was seen this week at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in the District.

Fresh Tiger Swallowtail numbers are building, and the current brood of Zebra Swallowtail seems substantial. Spicebush Swallowtail numbers seem to be lagging recent years, as do those of Black and Pipevine Swallowtails, but they’re being more regularly being reported over the past week.

The Red Admirals at Occoquan were clearly local, some still pumping their wings after emergence. But there is some hope for a push for southern migratory species, although the recent week of northerly winds hasn’t helped that cause much. American Lady and Painted Lady have been infrequently reported.

Biggest surprise recently was Brazilian Skipper (two, in different locations) at Cape May NJ and reported on the South Jersey Butterfly Blog, one from the NABA count and one individual sighting. Also on the wing in New Jersey recently were second brood Hessel’s Hairstreak (never a sure bet for a second brood), Checkered White, Rare Skipper, and Mulberry Wing. A very late Edwards’ Hairstreak report came in on the 24th from the Atlantic City Airport colony; Aaron’s and Broad-winged Skippers were still being reported in good numbers in coastal locations.

Ocola, Fiery, and Whirlabout Skippers continue to be reported in NC and southern VA but no more northerly sightings have been reported. Sachem numbers are rising here with the emergence of females to complement the earlier-emerging males; Peck’s numbers are also swelling. Hayhurst’s Scallopwing is emerging for its late summer flight.

Monarch numbers are building; reported on most field trips over the past two weeks, sometimes in double-digit numbers. One correspondent saw almost 70 in a single local location this past week.

Harvesters also are being reported around the region in their second brood, although it appears this species has staggered emergences across the region depending on the aphid situation. Fresh Juniper Hairstreaks, Red-banded Hairstreaks, and Gray Hairstreaks are also out currently.

The Great Dismal Swamp annual count last weekend had some notable species, including a probable Reversed Roadside-skipper in addition to the expected Great Purple Hairstreaks. That area also had recent King’s Hairstreak sightings at Chippokes State Park VA.

One local count this weekend is Loudon Co VA; there’s also a bioblitz at Catoctin Creek Park in Frederick Co MD. Plus a field trip in Berks Co PA. See LepLog for details on the VA and PA activities; contact Park Naturalist, Susan Matthews for info on the bioblitz at SMatthews@Frederickcounty.gov

Although it looks like a rather soggy weekend coming up, keep your eyes out for those southern migrants, especially on second-flush dogbane and on garden plants such as tall verbena and lantana. Please remember to post or send your sightings for the next Weekend Forecast. In the meantime, visit us at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

 

 

Textbook Aphrodite Fritillary at Herrington Manor SP [2014 July 12, REB]

Textbook Aphrodite Fritillary at Herrington Manor SP [2014 July 12, REB]

The July doldrums seem to be winding down, with fresh new emergences over the past week combined with some early fall action.

On the Audubon Naturalist Society field trip to western Maryland last weekend, we had great success in finding two of our targets, Bog Copper at Cranesville Swamp and Northern Metalmarks (in good numbers) in Green Ridge State Forest. Both were quite cooperative with the 15 participants in the extended field trip and allowed for good views and some excellent photographs. Both of these beautiful leps should be flying for at least another week; some of the metalmarks especially were quite fresh.

Lots of satyrs were on the wing for us, too – Appalachian Brown was abundant, as was Common Wood-nymph (in its dark, northern/western form). Northern Pearly-eye was also seen. Farther north in Buzzard Swamp PA colleagues reported an Eyed Brown. The second brood of Little Wood-satyr seems to be sputtering locally.

At least four fritillaries are flying now: Great-spangled (some fresh), Aphrodite, Atlantis, and Meadow. Five, if you count Variegated Fritillary, which has been seen sporadically but whose numbers seem to be building in mid-VA. Diana Fritillary of both sexes was picked up in Bath Co VA. Other brushfoot butterflies around this week included Red Admiral, both Hackberry and Tawny Emperors, and infrequent American Ladies. Red-spotted Purples were much more common than earlier in the season; a few Viceroys are being seen but clearly a small flight.   Mourning Cloak and other anglewings are scarce but around; mostly they are still aestivating until cooler fall weather. Monarch numbers seem to be climbing slowly but steadily; I saw several this morning on the National Mall.

Across the region, a fresh brood of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails began to show up in the past week, but it appears this will be a small flight. Second brood of Zebra Swallowtails, which was pretty robust, is winding down. A number of reports came in this week of fresh Spicebush, Black, and Pipevine Swallowtails. No reports yet this year of Palamedes Swallowtail from Maryland, but was seen on the Eastern Shore of VA last week.

Fresh skippers were out this week too – Sachem numbers are building, and there are more Wild Indigo and Horace’s Duskywings. There’s a large flight of Silver-spotted Skipper emerging now. Essex (European) Skipper seems to be ending its summer flight. Brazilian Skippers Br were noted from vacation areas in Dare Co NC and from as close as Norfolk; we should be regularly checking sizeable plantings of cannas for these large and showy skippers.

Other skippers this week include Dion, Delaware, and Rare; Salt-marsh should also be flying on the Eastern Shore. Fiery and Whirlabout Skippers were again seen in Virginia; Ocola Skipper seems to be making an early assay to the north already with sightings in NC and VA. Black Dash and Long Dash are flying in the western MD counties; Black Dash is especially common this year.

I noted last week that no Little Yellows had been seen this year, which of course prompted a couple of reports from recent NABA counts where they HAD been seen, in PA on the Hawk Mountain count and in VA in Botetourt Co. Sleepy Orange is being seen in NC.

Hairstreaks are still in a downturn, although the best sighting of the week had to have been a second brood Early Hairstreak in the Ricketts Glen area of PA.

Dicey weather this weekend, especially Sunday, but there should be some sun to draw out butterflies. Please remember to post or send your sightings for the next Weekend Forecast. In the meantime, visit us at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

 

Walking the pine plantation on the way to the Cranesville Swamp boardwalk

Walking the pine plantation on the way to the Cranesville Swamp boardwalk [photo by Sheryl Pollock]

  Our three-day Audubon Naturalist Society extended foray began in early afternoon on Saturday July 19 at Finzel Swamp, a boreal relict fen in eastern Garrett County. Unfortunately, we started in drizzle and ended in steady rain. Despite the showers, we managed to kick up some Finzel butterfly specialties early in our trip: Black Dash, the very dark northern form of Common Wood-nymph, and Appalachian Brown. We also had a few more common leps, including Eastern Tailed-blue, Pearl Crescent, and Great-spangled Fritillary. We sorted through a few odes in the meadow at the parking lot, including White-faced Meadowhawk (and possibly a second meadowhawk species), a couple of damselflies, and a Slender Spreadwing.

Other insects of note included panorpid scorpionflies, Virginia Ctenucha day-flying moths, and a couple of diminutive pyrodoxine Yucca Moths buried deep in yucca flowers at the old homestead. We talked at length about the mutually beneficial relationship between the pollinating moth and its host; the moth pollinates the flower in exchange for a few of the ripening ovaries to feed its caterpillars.

Birds were notably hunkered down, but brief let-ups in the rain gave us Black-capped Chickadees, Purple Finch, Swamp Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and hosts of Cedar Waxwings cleaning up on black cherries. The human participants cleaned up on ripe blueberries.

White-faced Meadowhawk at Finzel Swamp [photo by Sheryl Pollock]

White-faced Meadowhawk at Finzel Swamp [photo by Sheryl Pollock]

The plants didn’t mind the rain nearly as much; we explored the many microhabitats created by varying water levels, from deciduous holly, to blueberry, to speckled alder. We also discussed the nutrient cycle in this nutrient- poor environment, and how changes in the hydrology of the Finzel area — including contamination with fertilizers — could tip the balance in favor of the invasive European plants that we saw on the path and around the margins of the fen as just trace amounts of fertilizer allow invasives to outcompete native flora that are adapted to the poor nutrient habitats. The large white Rhododenrons were blooming along the small pond’s edge near the parking lot.

We enjoyed a group dinner at The Hen House in Frostburg. The optional night hike at Finzel was called off because of the continuing rain.

Notable Butterflies for Day 1:

Orange Sulphur

Eastern Tailed-blue

Summer Azure

Pearl Crescent

Common Wood-nymph

Black Dash

Little Glassywing

 

Bog Copper on the flower of its larval host plant, small cranberry [photo by Sheryl Pollock]

Bog Copper on the flower of its larval host plant, small cranberry [photo by Dave Pollock]

Day two came very early, with a dawn hike for those who wished just south of Frostburg to a known location for Henslow’s Sparrow. About half the group showed up in the hotel parking lot for the carpool down, and after a short hike into an overgrown pasture, we were able to get crippling views of Henslow’s and Grasshopper Sparrows, at one point posing within inches of each other on the same shrub and both singing – you couldn’t ask for a better side-by-side comparison of these two grassland sparrows! We talked at length about how weedy pastureland and grasslands are among Maryland’s most endangered habitats while watching Eastern Meadowlark and listening to Field Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, and other grassland birds singing as the sun emerged from the clouds.

We returned to the hotel, gathered the rest of the tour group, and headed west to Cranesville Swamp on the MD/WV border in the expectation of seeing Bog Copper, a specialist butterfly restricted to bogs where its host plant, small cranberry, creeps across the sphagnum floor of the bog. After a short hike in – with a number of Appalachian Browns along the way, and some fast-flying Great-spangled Fritillaries – we emerged onto the boardwalk and spent about 15 minutes looking for the coppers. While we looked for the butterflies, we also saw two odonate denizens of Cranesville – large, blue Spatterdock Darners and the diminutive Sphagnum Sprite damselfly. Bog plants in abundance also caught our attention, from American larch to carnivorous sundews to pale green orchids and myriad sedges and rushes. Finally, a burst of bright sunshine through the cloudy skies brought out a good number of the Bog Coppers, affording good views for everyone. The walk back provided good looks at plants more at home in the Maine woods than Maryland: trailing arbutus, dewdrops, wintergreen, and Turks-cap lily, as well as the original coniferous inhabitants of the area upslope from the bog, white pine and hemlock. Overhead, we heard singing Golden-crowned Kinglets and Red-breasted Nuthatches in addition to the lazy whistles of Black-capped Chickadees; group members “pished” up a Yellowthroat that followed us for a good distance along the trail, scolding the entire time. As we returned to the parking lot, we discussed the essential differences between the bog-like habitats at Finzel and Cranesville, a conversation we continued over lunch in McHenry.

Ogling the Meadow Jumping-mouse at Herrington Manor SP [REB]

Ogling the Meadow Jumping-mouse at Herrington Manor SP [REB]

After lunch we continued our foray in Garrett County with a visit to Herrington Manor State Park. Our first stop there was the Grow No Mow meadow, a managed field near the lake with abundant wild oregano, heal-all, and scattered dogbane. This field provided some of our best butterflying of the trip, with ample opportunities to study the differences between the very similar Great-spangled Fritillary and Aphrodite Fritillary; more Black Dashes; the small Meadow Fritillary; many Common Wood-nymphs and Appalachian Browns, both sipping fermenting sap from a tree wound; our first Northern Pearly-eye of the trip; and Dun, Crossline and Little Glassywing Skippers in addition to the by-now-ubiquitous Silver-spotted Skipper. American Copper gave us our second copper species of the trip.

Damselflies shared the meadow with the butterflies,

Common Wood-nymph sipping fermented sap at Herrington Manor SP [REB]

Common Wood-nymph sipping fermented sap at Herrington Manor SP [REB]

and several large dragonflies – Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Common Whitetail, and Widow Skimmer – hawked for midges and mosquitoes. Calico Pennant dragonflies staked out the tops of the taller grass stalks.

Just downhill from the meadow we explored the lower margins of the parking lot, with even better opportunities for comparing fritillaries. But the scene-stealer here was a Meadow Jumping-mouse that afforded very good looks as it huddled in the short grass.

Closer to the lake we picked up more butterflies, including our first swallowtail of the trip, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Orange Bluet damselflies hung out along the lake edge, and Variable Dancers among others haunted the tall grass under the berm. Two Spotted Sandpipers flushed up, giving everyone a good look at their teetering exploration of the muddy shoreline.

Turk's-cap Lily along Snaggy Mountain Road {REB]

Turk’s-cap Lily along Snaggy Mountain Road {REB]

As the sun lowered, we made one last stop before returning to Frostburg: Snaggy Mountain Road, a short dirt road through hemlocks that provided an evensong of Hermit Thrushes and good but distant looks at a Scarlet Tanager. Snaggy also gave us good close-up looks at the flowers of Turks-cap Lily.

Offers to reschedule the Finzel night walk from the night before were turned down as the exhausted troops opted for an early night!

 

Appalachian Brown at Cranesville Swamp [REB]

Appalachian Brown at Cranesville Swamp [REB]

 

 

Notable Butterflies for Day 2:

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Orange Sulphur

Eastern Tailed-blue

American Copper

Pearl Crescent

Great-spangled Fritillary

Aphrodite Fritillary

Red Admiral

Common Wood-nymph

Black Dash

Long Dash (only a couple of us saw this)

Crossline Skipper

Dun Skipper

Little Glassywing

 

Rob Hilton holds one of EIGHT Imperial Moths we found lingering around the lights at the Citgo overlooking Sideling Hill Creek [REB]

Rob Hilton holds one of EIGHT Imperial Moths we found lingering around the lights at the Citgo overlooking Sideling Hill Creek [REB]

Day 3 had a leisurely start as we waited for the sun to rise over the hills in Green Ridge State Forest and warm the shale shoulders of the woodland roads through the Sideling Hill Creek drainage. On the way to Green Ridge from Frostburg we stopped first at the State Forest visitor center, where – unbeknownst to us – the restroom facilities were closed owing to a septic problem. We walked the short path to the overlook, where we had additional close-ups of Scarlet Tanager and enjoyed a lively discussion of the finer points of flycatcher ID as we watched an Eastern Wood-pewee darting out from dead branches near the overlook. A skipper on the ground next to the path proved to be a Horace’s Duskywing, leading to a good conversation about the essential differences between the grass skippers and the spread-wing skippers, and a refresher on moths, skippers and butterflies more generally. From the overlook platform we also could see at least six species of oaks, and talked about the remarkable genetic promiscuity of oaks in general and how the areas of mixed-growth forest like Green Ridge are hotspots of genetic diversity and speciation, as opposed to landscape-like plantings in urban settings and monocultures on tree plantations.

Male dobsonfly at the Citgo lights [photo by Sheryl Pollock]

Male dobsonfly at the Citgo lights [photo by Sheryl Pollock]

Before descending into the lowlands of the state forest, we stopped at the Citgo gas station at High Germany Road. The moths must have known it was the start of National Moth Week – the lights at the convenience store the night before had pulled in tremendous numbers of moths, fishflies, stoneflies, Dobsonflies, beetles, and other nocturnal insects. We knew we were in for a treat when our first sight was eight – EIGHT! – huge Imperial Moths and a Royal Walnut Moth right off the bat. There were dozens of Dobson-flies, including several large-mandibled males. Other moth sightings included The Angel, Pandorus Sphinx, Rosy Maple Moth, Beautiful Wood-nymph, Clymene Moth, Banded Tussock Moth, and a variety of geometers, emeralds, tiger moths, and others.

The early morning fog was lifting as we left the gas station and

Beautiful Wood-nymph moth under the Citgo lights [Sheryl Pollock]

Beautiful Wood-nymph moth under the Citgo lights [Sheryl Pollock]

drove into the state forest along a shale-lined roadside with tall golden woodland sunflowers along the shoulder. Sure enough, several of these sunflowers sported small brown butterflies with intense coppery undersides – Northern Metalmarks! – found here where their food plant, the shale barren obligate round-leaved ragwort, occurs in conjunction with the sunflowers for adult nectar.

After everyone had their fill of metalmarks, we moved down along the banks of Sideling Hill Creek, where our first sighting was of a Louisiana Waterthrush on the far bank. The muddy shoreline and rocks provided lots of good dragonflies and damselflies, including Powdered Dancer, Black-shoulder Spinyleg, and Stream Bluet. Spiders included a huge-jawed tetragnathid, an orb weaver with fangs that fold in half and that builds its webs horizontally over streams and ponds to capture emerging midges and mayflies, and a Dark Fishing Spider clinging to a rock in the stream. Also on a rock in the stream was an imperturbable Northern Banded Watersnake. Birds in addition to the waterthrush included Northern Parula Warbler carrying food. Along the road we saw a blue-tailed skink – Five-lined or Broadheaded – wedged into a massive Poison Ivy vine. As we left, a Spicebush Swallowtail sailed in to explore some of the streamside phlox.

Several group members peeled off at this point, the last official stop of the trip, but a couple of die-hards accompanied me up onto the ridge over Sideling Hill Creek along Hoop Pole Road for more metalmarks, a Pipevine Swallowtail, and a completely surprising Common Roadside-skipper. With clouds rolling in again right on schedule, we ended our western Maryland field experience and headed back to DC to beat the afternoon rush hour.

Highlight of our last day -- Northern Metalmark along "metalmark alley" in Green Ridge State Forest [photo by Sheryl Pollock]

Highlight of our last day — Northern Metalmark along “metalmark alley” in Green Ridge State Forest [photo by Sheryl Pollock]

Notable Butterflies from Day 3:

Spicebush Swallowtail

Pipevine Swallowtail

Northern Metalmark

Horace’s Duskywing

Common Roadside-skipper

 

No, not something from our area:  Just a teaser from my Spokane trip.  Blue Copper [2014 July 15, WA Mt Spokane SP.  REB]

No, not something from our area: Just a teaser from my Spokane trip. Plebejus idas atrapraetextus, one of the idas-complex Northern Blues [2014 July 15, WA Mt Spokane SP. REB]

Even though I’ve spent this past week in Spokane WA on a combination of conference-going and looking for leps and odes in the nearby mountains, faithful folk have been sending in sightings and picked up a couple of new things. Plus Beth Johnson and I did a marathon 20-hour scout of Garrett Co. Sunday in advance of my ANS field trip this coming weekend that yielded some nice results.

There were several reports of Diana Fritillaries flying in VA this week, so now is the time to go looking for them on backcountry dirt roads. Closer to home, many frits are on the wing in western MD: Meadow, Atlantis, Aphrodite, Great-spangled and even a few Silver-bordered. Milkweed and dogbane are reaching their peak bloom this week in Garrett Co MD. At Cranesville Swamp MD/WV, good numbers of Appalachian Browns were flying in and around the evergreens in the meadows along Muddy Creek Road, and the milkweed there held at least one Striped Hairstreak. Coral Hairstreaks were reported from the nearby Cunningham WMA, and multiple Gray Commas were seen in Savage River State Forest along Big Run Road and elsewhere. Long Dash and Black Dash are also flying in Garrett Co.

Tremendous numbers of Northern Metalmarks were out in Green Ridge State Forest, almost all of them on woodland sunflower growing above round-leaved ragwort along shale road shoulders in the Sideling Hill Creek drainage. Bog Coppers were relatively abundant along the Cranesville boardwalk (all on the WV side for you MD listers).

Fresh Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were also flying in Green Ridge, plus Zebra Swallowtails, but little else. Should be time, however, for second brood of Giant Swallowtail there. Black Swallowtails are flying everywhere from the coast to the mountains. Of interest are a few scattered reports of Zebra Swallowtails well up into New England, puzzling local lepidopterists.

Here in the DC area, Sachem numbers continue to build as females begin to emerge to complement the males that came out last week. Sightings of Fiery Skipper edge a little closer to DC each week from NC and VA. Freshly emerged Wild Indigo Duskywing and Horace’s Duskywing were reported in numerous locations across the region. Essex (European) Skippers are showing a lot of wear.

No Little Yellows have been reported yet anywhere in the mid-Atlantic from NC north. However, Sleepy Orange has been sighted well up into NC, although Cloudless Sulphur is still AWOL in our area. That other regular southern migrant, Common Buckeye, is being reported sporadically at various locations, though nowhere in any numbers. Viceroy is still flying, as are Red-spotted Purples, but their numbers are low. Both emperors, Tawny and Hackberry, are abroad this week. Monarchs are seen widely across the region but seldom in more than single-digit numbers.

Hairstreak numbers are way down, although second brood Great Purple Hairstreak is probably flying on the Eastern Shore. Nobody has reported King’s Hairstreak, and its flight is probably winding down. A fresh brood of White M is imminent.

The Heinz NWR annual count in Tinicum PA is the 19th (rain date the 20th); contact is Cliff Hence; cwhenceiii@aol.com.

I’m back in Garrett Co MD this weekend leading an Audubon Naturalist Society field trip.  Maybe we’ll cross paths!  If not, please remember to post or send your sightings for the next Weekend Forecast. In the meantime, visit us at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

 

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