Well, I didn’t exactly race this week to make sure the Forecast would be in readers’ hands for the start of the weekend. The weather forecast has been a broken record since last weekend, when most of the current crop of FOY butterflies rolled in. Since then it’s been a terrific week for snorkeling, but not butterflying. Tomorrow looks the same. Sunday only slightly better.
Much of the credit for the best sightings of the week goes to members of the Butterflies of Spring class organized jointly by Audubon Naturalist Society and Graduate School USA as part of the certificate program in Natural History Field Studies. They hit a good number of targets last Saturday (remember? when there was sun?) on the Eastern Shore. Among the best sightings the group had were of Frosted Elfin on its host plant sundial lupine, and Dusted Skipper in one of the sandy barrens with bluestem that has in the past also produced Cobweb Skipper (but not this year). It’s worth noting that the class spent time in the habitat known to some Maryland lepidopterists as the only known location in the state where Hessel’s Hairstreak has been seen. We searched in vain for this butterfly, and consoled ourselves with the reminder that the putative record (from 70 years ago) has a cloud of uncertainty around it.
Elsewhere, grass skippers began their season emergence, with Peck’s, Sachem, and Zabulon Skipper all reported freshly out this week. Silver-spotted Skipper reports continued, although in small numbers so far and absent from some expected locations. The spring duskywings are fading (or drowning); Wild Indigo Duskywing is the only fresh one on the wing. Among the MIA is Common Checkered-skipper. [Update: Least Skipper was reported to Maryland Biodiversity Project in a record I just found — I usually have to do a fair amount of digging through various web records and listservs every week because unfortunately not everyone reports butterfly sightings to LepLog or MDLepsOdes.]
Good numbers of Gray and Red-banded Hairstreaks were seen regionally last weekend, and the only azures reported were the second brood of Summer Azure (although Appalachian Azure is due out about now too). A modest flight of Eastern Tailed-blues is out.A rather poor showing of first brood Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is about washed up (pun intended), but at least one good candidate for fresh Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail came in from far western MD. A few Zebra Swallowtails continue. The dark swallowtails — Pipevine, Spicebush, and Black — are having a much better first flight. Harry Pavulaan reminded those of us on the MDLepsOdes Google Group that “Black” Swallowtails flying in the Appalachian spine should be studied carefully as possible candidates for a cryptic woodland species similar to Ozark Swallowtail in the central US (sign up here for MDLepsOdes).
Among the brushfoots, Pearl Crescent is flying in small numbers, and Silvery Checkerspot has just emerged. For all practical purposes anglewings are absent. American Lady numbers are up, but Red Admiral and Painted Lady sightings are pretty low. Another week of zero American Snouts.
Falcate Orangetips are all but gone (although the NHFS group found one late female on the Eastern Shore). Cabbage (Small) Whites are flying too but never had a good build-up this spring. West Virginia White is out in Garrett Co. No sulphur reports came in but that doesn’t mean they weren’t out there.
If by some miracle you find yourself in a sunbeam this weekend or next week, report back to us what you’ve spotted by commenting here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or by posting to Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.