Notes and news gleaned from area listservs and postings.
The big news, of course, continues to be the massive irruption of vanessids northward, especially red admiral and American painted lady. Reports from across the mid-Atlantic suggest this is a widespread phenomenon, with reports from Canada, the northeast, and the Midwest all reporting sightings of large numbers of ladies and admirals — and smaller numbers of other nymphalids — pushing northward. At midweek on Chincoteague Island I had a small blackberry clump covered with more than 50 Vanessas, equally distributed between red admirals and American painted ladies. On the drive down along Route 50 there was an admiral flying across at approximately one every 10 seconds. On Saturday as part of an Audubon Naturalist Society-sponsored boat trip on Jug Bay from Patuxent River Park, we were seeing one admiral every few seconds flying upstream past or over the boat.
Other migratory species seem on the move, too. On that same Jug Bay boat trip, I had two flyby cloudless sulphurs and one sleepy orange; both species and little yellow were seen at the Ft. Smallwood rapotor watch near Baltimore over the past week. And I picked up my FOS little yellow at Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary today. They have been reported well into Pennsylvania this week as well.
Both standard Limenitis species took wing this week; Pennsylvania sources report red-spotted purples becoming common in the south of the state already. I had my first red-spotted purples yesterday at Patuxent River Park, and my first viceroy today at Merkle.
On the other hand, a number of spring species are in decline or already past flight. Falcate orangetips seem to have disappeared for the season, and even in Pennsylvania the West Virginia whites are on their last legs. The elfin flights seem over, although I did manage a few remarkably fresh Henry’s elfins along Nassawango Creek on the Eastern Shore of Maryland early in the week. Spring nectar sources came and went quickly as well — redbud, dogwood, cresses, blueberries/hucklebeerries and phlox are all past peak or over, replaced by clovers, viburnum, and blackberry. Itea is in full bud in the marshes along the Patuxent.
Monarchs have been widely reported for several weeks already in the DC area, but numbers seem to be picking up this past week. A fresh brood of question mark — summer form with dark hindwings — is already on the wing, although summer commas don’t appear to have emerged yet. We seem to be between azure flights. Red-banded hairstreaks were commonly noted this week.
Most of the grass skippers also have made early appearances, with Peck’s, Zabulon, and sachem on the wing this week (and probably Hobomok in the right environments here; it is reported from Pennsylvania and WV this week, as well as points farther north). The fiery skipper flight is well underway in the Carolinas. All the usual swallowtail suspects are on the wing now in the DC area, with the possible exception of Giant — a search last weekend in one of its strongholds here, Hoyle’s Mill, turned up nothing.
The early appearance of second broods for some species raises the question of partial third broods for normally bivoltine species. Maybe we’ll have fall records to break this year as well!