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. Blue Copper [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.

 

Northern Metalmarks in Green Ridge SF [2014 July 12, photo Beth Johnson]

Northern Metalmarks in Green Ridge SF [2014 July 12, photo Beth Johnson]

Beth and I did a VERY long road trip yesterday in advance of my Bog Butterflies, Birds and Botany trip for Audubon Naturalist Society next weekend.  Left the DC area from Beth’s place rather early for fear we’d have rain or clouds later in the day; we needn’t have worried, a beautiful day all day long.

First stop (after bagels in Frederick, of course) was Swain Hollow on Sideling Hill Creek in Allegany Co. in search of Northern Metalmarks. But our first sighting was of PA colleagues Monica Miller and Curt Lehman from PALepsOdes who had arrived just moments earlier.  Fortuitous timing; the mist had just burned off and the metalmarks were out in higher numbers than I’d ever seen basking on virtually every available woodland sunflower floret– my count was 52.  Life butterfly for Curt and Beth.  Most were very fresh so as Matt Orsie noted in his blog last week the flight has just begun.

We left Monica and Curt and headed west to Cranesville (our only major stop was at the Sideling Hill rest area, where there is a good bit of nectar on the westbound side being worked by a LOT of Wild Indigo Duskywings–our brief attempt to turn some of them into Horace’s proved futile).

Intrepid PA LepTrekkers Curt and Monica afield in Green Ridge State Forest MD [2014 July 12 GRSF, REB]

Intrepid PA LepTrekkers Curt and Monica afield in Green Ridge State Forest MD [2014 July 12 GRSF, REB]

En route we got a message from Bill Hubick, who was working the Cunningham WMA near Grantsville, that he had Coral HS near the entrance gate there.  We were tempted to swing by but, still nervous about running out of sunshine, we pressed on the bogs.

Cranesville was very dry, with almost no good nectar sources like milkweed and dogbane.  The few milkweeds along the entrance road had Great-spangled Frits and some grass skippers; at the visitor kiosk on Muddy Creek there were abundant Appalachian Browns in and among the trees in the meadow, more frits (all GSFs, far as we could tell) on the roadside, and a hairstreak Beth is still mulling over.

Striped Hairstreak from the MD side of Cranesville [2014 July 12 Beth Johnson photo]

Striped Hairstreak from the MD side of Cranesville [2014 July 12 Garrett Co MD.  Beth Johnson photo]

Bog Copper was enjoying a great flight along the boardwalk despite the dry conditions; small cranberry and a tiny dewberry were in bloom for nectar.  We counted 18 in a rather short time on the boardwalk, but they were so skittish I dipped on photos but Beth may have gotten a decent documentation shot.  We had single digit numbers of Appalachian Browns and Northern Pearly-eyes along the loop trail.

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

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

While we were still working over the milkweed stand at the Muddy Creek lot, a car pulled up and its driver hailed us — Fran Pope!  Another lepidopsterist sighting.  Fran told us about some excellent nectar patches currently producing good butterflies at Herrington Manor SP, so we followed her down and hijacked the rest of her afternoon to show us good numbers of Black Dash (recently emerged), a number of grass skippers, and three frits — Meadow, Great-spangled, and Aphrodite.  Fran had had Atlantis earlier in the day but we did not see them on our foray.

As dusk began to settle in on Herrington, Beth and I headed back up toward the interstate via a stopover at a good El Salvadoran restaurant in Oakland before turning back toward DC.  We had an unexpectedly long delay at Cumberland owing to a major accident that shut down the east-bound lanes and gave us an opportunity to for moon-gazing at the full “supermoon” rising over the ridges.

About 11 pm we pulled up into the Citgo at Swain Hollow to check out the lights.  If you haven’t been

Unfortunate backdrop for a fortunate find -- Royal Walnut Moth at the Citgo station lights on High Germany Rd, Allegany Co MD [2014 July 12, REB]

Unfortunate backdrop for a fortunate find — Royal Walnut Moth at the Citgo station lights on High Germany Rd, Allegany Co MD [2014 July 12, REB]

there, go!  The 24-hr mini mart lights draw from the huge dark expanse down Sideling Hill Creek and the Potomac and attract huge Dobson fies, stoneflies by the thousands, and lots of moths.  Highlights last night were an antlion adult, an epic Royal Walnut Moth, some good sphingids we’re still working on, and Polyphemus Moth, among others.

I got in at 3 am.  Needless to say, no leptreks for me today! I have an early flight out to Spokane tomorrow with the expectation of seeing at least one of the local Parnassian species before I come back at the end of the week.

 

Pink-edge Sulphur at Spruce Knob WV [2014 July 6, courtesy of Matt Orsie's excellent blog http://wvbirder.org/wvleps/]

Pink-edged Sulphur at Spruce Knob WV [2014 July 6, courtesy of and copyright Matt Orsie's excellent blog http://wvbirder.org/wvleps/%5D

Hairstreaks continue to dominate what was an otherwise slow long weekend around July 4, with second brood Early Hairstreak along Carolina portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway topping the list. Coral Hairstreaks are also flying; a number were reported by visitors to the Ft. Indiantown Gap Regal Fritillary tours last weekend on the abundant butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), their very favorite nectar source. And second brood Juniper Hairstreaks have been reported at scattered locations around the region. Great Purple Hairstreaks continue to be reported on the Eastern Shore of MD and in DE.

The Northern Metalmarks in Green Ridge State Forest made their appearance over the 4th of July weekend as well, typically basking on the leaves of and feeding on the flowers of woodland sunflower along shale-strewn roadsides above stands of their larval host, round-leaved ragwort (a shale barren specialist). Farther west, in Garrett Co. MD and adjoining WV, Bog Copper is flying where its rather rare host, small cranberry, can be found.

Even farther west and along the Appalachian spine at Spruce Knob, Pink-edged Sulphurs were out in numbers in this traditional go-to location for this restricted species. Here they fly with four fritillary species: Great-spangled, Meadow, Aphrodite, and Atlantis, giving unparalleled opportunities to compare these critters.

On the skipper front, grass skippers have been pretty low most of the summer, and this weekend proved no exception. However, in the Carolinas, Sachem numbers are building rapidly in their second brood, and this could be a harbinger of more Sachems to come here. Dion Skipper was also flying in NC, so should be looked for in its coastal marshy habitats here. The best bet for this uncommon species is to look over any buttonbush in bloom along river and marsh edges.  Both Fiery and Whirlabout Skippers are being seen regularly in the Carolinas and sporadically in VA; Ocola Skipper has also been reported in NC.  A strong southern push like that delivered by Hurricane Arthur could bring some of these southern skippers to the DC area.

This Friday and Saturday are the final days in 2014 for the Ft. Indiantown Gap Regal Fritillary and Grassland Tours, and if you haven’t been it’s a great trip – lots of Regals this year, by all accounts. But this weekend and next week are chock-full of NABA counts, including Reston VA, Richmond VA, Prince George’s Co MD, Bath Co VA, Shenandoah National Park VA, Cape May NJ. If you’re looking two weekends out, include the NABA Count for Heinz NWR PA. Check out the full schedule at LepLog (address below).

On a related note, Harry Pavulaan is looking for sightings from ONLY THE PAST WEEK OR TWO of Little Wood Satyrs in the areas just north, south or west of DC.  Drop him a line at harrypav@hotmail.com or post your sightings to washbutterflies or VA-MD-DE-Bugs.

I’ll be out scouting Garrett Co MD this weekend for an upcoming Audubon Naturalist Society field trip I’m leading the weekend of the 19th; the weather looks marginal out west but good near DC for the first part of the weekend. 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.

Baltimore Checkerspot in Frederick Co MD [2014 Jiune 29. REB]

Baltimore Checkerspot in Frederick Co MD [2014 June 29. REB]

The past week has seen results trickling in from the early summer counts, including a few new FOYs among them.

Last weekend’s western Montgomery Co MD count was low on both numbers and diversity, but one of the bright spots was a local report of Common Wood Nymph. The Cumberland Co NJ count had the first reported Hayhurst’s Scallopwings (which have been AWOL so far this summer) in addition to a fine selection of Hairstreaks: Coral, Banded, Striped, Red-banded, Gray, and White M. Sky Meadows VA counters reported a high count of 77 Great Spangled Fritillaries as well as 15 Banded Hairstreaks.

Edwards’ Hairstreaks were out in numbers in Frederick Co last weekend, with a count of 14 in Frederick Municipal Watershed, as well as smaller numbers in Anne Arundel Co. Succession fields or barrens with scrub oak should be visited early in the morning when the hairstreaks are at eye level basking. Several of us made unsuccessful trips to the Eastern Shore for King’s Hairstreak, but the season is still a week or two behind there, judging by the fact that Clethra is still not in bloom at their known location. However, both Bronze Copper and Great Purple Hairstreak were seen in Dorchester Co MD this week.

Botetourt Co in west central VA had the season’s first report of Northern Metalmark, so it should be flying in Green Ridge State Forest shortly as well. Also to our south were reports of Whirlabout, Ocola, and Fiery Skippers in NC, promising a good flight of migrant skippers in our area later this summer. Cloudless Sulphur and Sleepy Orange were also reported from NC. Otherwise, sulphur numbers remain quite low in the region, although the past week has brought a fresh flight of Small (Cabbage) Whites here in my garden.

Fresh Horace’s and Wild Indigo Duskywings were flying in Frederick Co., mostly visiting dogbane and common milkweed.  Baltimore Checkerspot was also on the wing.

Edwards' Hairstreak in Frederick Municipal Watershed Forest [REB]

Edwards’ Hairstreak in Frederick Municipal Watershed Forest [2014 June 29, REB]

Viceroy numbers remain low, as do numbers of Monarchs, although I have seen singletons of the latter almost every time I’ve been in the field recently. Little Wood Satyrs have all but disappeared until their next brood. American Snouts were recorded along the C&O Canal, but neither emperor is flying in its usual numbers.

More fresh Zebra and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails have emerged this past week; the Montgomery Co. count included a surprisingly large percentage of fresh, dark morph females.

This holiday weekend includes Virginia counts in Maidens and Island Ford. See the LepLog for more details at http://leplog.wordpress.com/2012-season-mid-atlantic-count-and-field-trip-calendar/. Don’t forget 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.

American Snout at Bayview Butterfly Garden, Eastern Neck NWR, Kent Co MD [REB 2014 June 20]

American Snout at Bayview Butterfly Garden, Eastern Neck NWR, Kent Co MD [REB 2014 June 20]

The univoltine summer hairstreaks are beginning their flights, with Edwards’ Hairstreak reported this week from its traditional location in the Frederick Municipal Watershed (MD). King’s Hairstreak has been flying for two weeks already in the Carolinas and VA, and the July 4 weekend is the traditional time to try to find this very local species on MDs lower Eastern Shore wherever its host plant —  sweetleaf, also known as horse sugar — can be found along wet ditches and in woods on the fringes of swamps and marshes. If you miss them this year, a good tactic is to stake out the trees when they bloom in early April and return now to find the adults perched on broad leaves in patches of sun. They are inordinately partial to greenbrier tangles. King’s flies at eye level early in the day before retreating up into the shady canopy, often by 9:30 am.

Banded Hairstreaks have been reported regularly across the area, but in much smaller numbers than last year. I have not received any reports of Striped Hairstreak, and few reports of Coral. One of the best bets for Coral Hairstreak is the butterfly weed on the public Regal Fritillary tours at Ft. Indiantown Gap PA, scheduled over the next two weeks. Reports are there is a good Regal flight at FIG this year.

Great-spangled Fritillary is also having a good flight and can be found almost statewide on common milkweed, which also is hosting plentiful numbers of grass skippers. Mostly AWOL so far this summer in these milkweed conventions is Sachem, which had a weak early flight and appears to be between broods now. Flights of Indian Skipper and Hobomok are winding down. Zabulon has not been as common as it is most years, although it has been expanding its range northward considerably — it was reported for the first time last week in Buzzard Swamp in NW PA near the NY border. Essex (European) Skippers are abundant this season and seem to be slowly making their way eastward and southward; they were noted in Loudon Co VA last weekend.  .

A fresh flight of American Coppers is out, but Bronze Coppers were not reported in our area for their late spring flight nor have they been reported more recently. Even Eastern Tailed-blues are making a rather poor showing this season.

Appalachian Brown finally made an appearance locally, and there were a few more scattered reports of Northern Pearly-eye, which seems to have made a host-plant jump in some populations to the noxious, invasive Japanese stilt-grass. Fresh Tawny Emperor was out in Kent Co MD this week, flying with fellow hackberry specialist American Snout; Hackberry Emperor was more widely reported. Silvery Checkerspot had a small early flight that is about over; reports this week were mostly of worn and ragged individuals. Monarchs continue to be infrequently but regularly reported.

There’s been an interesting conversation between veteran field observers Dick Smith and Bob Ringler online the past couple days that is worth noting. Early July seems to be the best time to see Compton Tortoiseshell in Maryland. It has been recorded a couple times in the past two decades at midsummer, most frequently from the Sideling Hill Creek watershed of Green Ridge State Forest and especially along vertigo-inducing Cliff Road.  Something to look for when you go out there for Northern Metalmarks in July.

On a somewhat more far-flung note, Tom Stock and I were both hosted royally by PALepsOdes colleagues Monica Miller and Curt Lehman for two days in PAs Buzzard Swamp, where Indian Skipper and Hobomok are still flying strong but Harris Checkerspot is winding down.  We also had local specialties White Admiral, Arctic Skipper, Pepper-and-Salt Skipper, Common Ringlet and Silver-bordered Fritillary (Atlantis was also flying), plus a lifer for both of us, Two-spotted Skipper.

Please considering joining your fellow lep observers on Saturday’s NABA count for western Montgomery Co MD. Info on this and other regional counts (several over the 4th of July weekend) can always be found on the LepLog calendar at http://leplog.wordpress.com/2012-season-mid-atlantic-count-and-field-trip-calendar/

Hope to see you in the field this weekend; weather looks pretty decent despite the lingering chance of afternoon showers both days according to the most recent forecast. 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.

[NOTE:  After posting, I heard from a correspondent near Pittsburgh that he had in fact observed Striped Hairstreak this past week, so we know they are flying]

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has just released its new reference to milkweeds, “Milkweeds:  A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide.”  Subtitled Plant Ecology, Seed Production Methods, and Habitat Restoration Opportunities, authors Brianna Borders and Eric Lee-Mader outline the biology and ecology of milkweeds with an eye toward citizen involvement in their conservation.  Here’s the Xerces blurb:

Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner's Guide
Monarch butterflies need milkweed. In addition to being the obligate food source for monarch caterpillars, milkweeds also provide abundant nectar for the adult butterflies, as well as bees and other beneficial insects. However, like many other native plant species, milkweeds are disappearing from the landscape in the wake of urban development and agricultural intensification. This Xerces Society guide shows how to bring back our milkweeds and restore habitat for monarch butterflies. Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide is a first-of-its kind manual on large-scale milkweed seed production, nursery propagation, and field restoration of the plants.

The information in Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide is gathered from interviews with native plant nurseries and seed producers, gained firsthand through Project Milkweed, and synthesized from scientific literature. It provides conservation professionals with information about optimizing milkweed seed production methods, offers guidance on incorporating milkweeds into restoration and revegetation efforts, and highlights milkweeds’ unique characteristics and value to wildlife. Native seed producers, restoration practitioners, land managers, monarch conservationists, gardeners, and landowners will all find this guide valuable.

Featured topics include:

  • • Milkweeds’ value to monarch butterflies, pollinators, and other beneficial insects;
  • • Pollination ecology;
  • • Tips for collecting foundation germplasm;
  • • Methods for germinating seed and producing transplants;
  • • Detailed guidelines for large-scale milkweed seed production, from field establishment through seed cleaning;
  • • In-depth profiles of milkweed specialist insects;
  • • Guidance on identifying and managing milkweed diseases;
  • • Assessment of milkweed seed availability on a regional basis;
  • • Opportunities to include milkweeds in monarch and pollinator habitat restoration efforts; and
  • • Regional recommendations of priority species for use in restoration.

You can download a free copy of Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide (146 pages in PDF) here at Leplog.

Harris Checkerspot in Buzzard Swamp PA [Tom Stock, 2014 June 21]

Harris’ Checkerspot in Buzzard Swamp PA [Tom Stock, 2014 June 21]

Ever since my first and last trip to Buzzard Swamp PA at the end of June 2011, I’ve been itching to get back. That first trip gave me a ton of lifers, but there were still a couple I could score there, and my field colleague Tom Stock had a few to pick up too. So we had planned a three-day excursion this past weekend.

Only the weather wasn’t exactly cooperative. Friday was iffy in northwest PA (Buzzard Swamp is in the Allegheny National Forest just a short drive from the NY border), so we decided to drive up early Saturday. Saturday there started out with rain (which would dog us the entire 5-hour drive), but it had cleared to partly cloudy and warm by the time we arrived at 1:30. We’d hoped to meet up with our compatriots Monica Miller and Curt Lehman from PALepsOdes, but cell signal being what it was we couldn’t get much info to each other from different parts of the long circuit loop of ponds, hemlock/spruce forest, and wet meadow. So Tom and I struck out on our own.

Before even leaving the parking lot, Tom hit one of his lifers — Harris’ Checkerspot. They’ve been flying for a while and several of the ones we saw were somewhat worn and tattered. A few feet down the path he snagged the next one — Pepper and Salt Skipper, which had been flying in the hundreds a few weeks ago and now are down to respectable dozens of varying stages of wear.

Pepper and Salt Skipper, Buzzard Swamp PA [REB, 2014 June 21]

Pepper and Salt Skipper, Buzzard Swamp PA [REB, 2014 June 21]

We were both looking for Silver-bordered Fritillaries and coming up empty; the larger frit that was flying yielded to an ID only in hand — all we netted and examined were Atlantis Frit, which surprised us by flying so early (it isn’t out in western MD yet, or at least hasn’t been reported).

We were not quite half way around when we were hallooed by our missing Pennsylvanians, and as it happened Curt had a Silver-bordered Frit in a plastic bottle he’d been carrying around in case we hadn’t seen our own yet. It didn’t take Curt’s eagle eyes long to come up with a couple of ones on the wing in the extensive wet meadows for us to view ourselves.

We finished the circuit, picking up a couple more Harris’ Checkerspots and another lifer for Tom, Common Ringlet (one of which had met its maker in the chelicerae of a Goldenrod Crab spider). Meantime, I was maxing out on odes I hadn’t seen before, including Dot-tailed Whiteface and Dusky Clubtail, and we had good bird sightings too of Least Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Blackburnian Warbler, and stunning male Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Silver-bordered Fritillary, Buzzard Swamp PA [Tom Stock, 2014 June 21]

Silver-bordered Fritillary, Buzzard Swamp PA [Tom Stock, 2014 June 21]

As we worked our way around the back side of the lakes, we got our last good butterfly of the day, a (mostly) White Admiral on a pile of fresh horse dung. Monica and Curt kept telling us that earlier in the day there would have been Arctic Skippers on the clover in the middle of the trail (which would be another lifer for Tom). I should mention at this point that all the lifers Tom was picking up were only in my life list already because I’d gotten them on that earlier trip to Buzzard!

The four of us retired to the local throwback to the era when the local town of Marienville was a hopping hunter’s destination (still is, but one gets the impression that hunting isn’t the sport kings it used to be), the Bucktail Restaurant. Really good dinner, good conversation among ourselves and with the staff, and Monica teased us with the knowledge that they’d had a Two-spotted Skipper in the parking lot early in the day. Sated, Tom and I headed down to Clarion and the Holiday Inn. Curt drove home, and Monica returned to her lodging at the Microtel for an early departure the next morning.

Sunday dawned foggy and it took some time to burn away, so Tom and I made our leisurely way to the Beaver Meadows Campground a few miles west of Marienville and the location of a lifer from my previous trip, Green Comma. Curt had told us that Two-spotted Skipper flew there as well, but we walked the spillway area in vain — very little was out, certainly not Green Comma or Two-spotted Skipper as a stiff breeze and regular clouds conspired to keep most everything hunkered down.

We decided to go back to Buzzard Swamp and try the eponymous “Ringlet Field” — on the left as you drive in from the main road. We hadn’t gotten far down the road from Beaver Meadows when we spotted a pulloff and a good amount of clover and decided on a whim to see if anything was working it. And there was — an Arctic Skipper!  Lifer for Tom.

Arctic Skipper, near Beaver Meadows Campground, Allegheny National Forest PA [REB, 2014 June 22]

Arctic Skipper, near Beaver Meadows Campground, Allegheny National Forest PA [REB, 2014 June 22]

Now we were down to one target lep: Two-spotted Skipper. We searched in vain for it at the Ringlet Field (where we got Long Dash and Indian Skipper plus many ringlets, naturally). We went about a mile back down the main circuit trail, also in vain. I peeled off to a small pond set back from the trail for odes (where I had the most incredibly beautiful Red-waisted Whiteface dragonflies); Tom kept on the trail for a little and scored two more Harris’ Hairstreaks — but no Two-spots.

We had a number of Silver-bordered Frits on the way back, and stopped to watch a little Zabulon make mad dashes out from his perch on the side of the trail at the large frits that bounced along the trail. He was worn but quite definitive; anyone from around the DC area knows that Zabs approach trash status in the summer here so we didn’t think much of it (and we’d had Hobomok earlier). Only later did we learn from Curt by email how unusual the sighting was, and David Wright confirmed the county record had only been established by a photo on June 6! [UPDATE:  Turns out the June 6 photo was of a Hobomok after all, so Tom and I are back in contention for a county Zabulon record!]

With time slipping away, we decided we’d make one more foray back to Beaver Meadows to give me a chance at a lifer for the trip too. We were packing into the car when Tom saw a dark skipper out the window dashed out in pursuit. We walked around the lot unsuccessfully. I pulled an apple out of my pack and started munching while looking through the clover again (without my bins) and suddenly saw an Essex (European) Skipper-like lep in the grass; I called Tom over and in the bins was clearly the Two-spotted Skipper of our dreams! (and quite possibly the very same one Monica and Curt had seen Saturday).

The knowledge of a five-hour drive in front of us motivated us to leave earlier than we would have, but with all 6 targets under our belt we felt pretty good about our sojourn, and very grateful for Monica’s and Curt’s help in getting them. Our last good surprise awaited us about an hour down the road — a black bear sauntering along the highway!

Life for both of us!  Two-spotted Skipper in the parking lot of Buzzard Swamp PA [Tom Stock, 2014 June 22]

Lifer for both of us! Two-spotted Skipper in the parking lot of Buzzard Swamp PA [Tom Stock, 2014 June 22]

Tom’s list for the trip follows:

For the record, here’s my tally of species for the trip (any chance of getting NABA to take up the Essex challenge?):

June 21, 2014: Buzzard Swamp, Forest County, Pennsylvania

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (3)
Cabbage White (1)
Orange Sulphur (3)
Eastern Tailed Blue (2)
Summer Azure (common)
Atlantis Fritillary (14)
Silver-bordered Fritillary (3)
Harris’ Checkerspot (2)
Pearl Crescent (2)
American Lady (2)
Red Admiral (5)
Red-spotted Purple (4)
White Admiral (1)
Viceroy (1)
Little Wood Satyr (common)
Common Ringlet (11)
Juvenal’s Duskywing (2)
Least Skipper (3)
European/Essex Skipper (5)
Pepper and Salt Skipper (6)

June 22, 2014: Beaver Meadows, Forest County, Pennsylvania

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (3)
Cabbage White (1)
Summer Azure (common)
Atlantis Fritillary (1)
Silver-bordered Fritillary (1)
Pearl Crescent (1)
Red Admiral (1)
Red-spotted Purple (4)
Little Wood Satyr (common)
Common Ringlet (2)
Arctic Skipper (1)
Least Skipper (4)
European/Essex Skipper (2)
Long Dash (2)
Hobomok Skipper (1)

June 22, 2014: Buzzard Swamp, Forest County, Pennsylvania

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (3)
Eastern Tailed Blue (1)
Summer Azure (common)
Silver-bordered Fritillary (4)
Harris’ Checkerspot (2)
Pearl Crescent (1)
Mourning Cloak (1)
Red Admiral (2)
Red-spotted Purple (2)
Little Wood Satyr (common)
Common Ringlet (9)
Least Skipper (2)
European/Essex Skipper (common)
Indian Skipper (9)
Peck’s Skipper (1)
Zabulon Skipper (1) Male. Possible county record – unmistakeable appearance, patrolling behavior
Two-spotted Skipper (1)
Pepper and Salt Skipper (common)

A great trip! Many thanks to Monica and Curt!

Tom Stock

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