New County Records for MD

N Cloudywing

Northern CLoudywing county tick for Washington Co by Rick Cheicante

Thanks to those of you who sent potential new county records for DC, MD, and VA to update the late Dick Smith’s Butterflies of Unknown Status project.  There were few responses to this call, so few updates.

Because I don’t have access either to records that may have been sent to Dick during the first half of 2016, or to the graphics files in which he created the original status sheets, what I’ll leave here are changes to the 2015 update that can be found at

For 2017 going forward, I will only be updating the Maryland data for this project, and only then if the data are entered in the phenomenal Maryland Biodiversity (MBP) Project database (  This is a very easy system to use, and will eventually provide quad-level data for observations of butterflies throughout Maryland.  Sensitive species and sensitive habitats can be shielded from public access here, but I will still be able to report generic observation data.  Working with our MBP colleagues, we’ll be able to spit a record of all new observations for the year and automatically tabulate which ones are new county records.

Two years ago, Dick and I worked with MBP to share a number of his historic records with MBP, so while there are still a few discrepancies, the country records for MBP and for Dick’s Butterflies of Unknown Status project are congruent for most records in the past three decades or so.  More recently, many more records have been input in MBP than are reflected in Dick’s Butterflies of Unknown Status, so that a number of “missing” counties in Dick’s status document are represented in MBP.  In any event, since there will be no way to update Dick’s database, it seems prudent scientifically and recreationally to transfer our attention to the MBP platform as our way of systematically recording butterfly sightings in Maryland going forward.

There is one caveat:  All of Dick’s records were personally verified by him, and likely represent the best known current status of butterflies in their respective counties.  MBP may contain historical data as well as vouchered or verified sightings, but as time goes by we hope to populate MBP with current records and status of all MD butterflies.

Note also that only four of the records below are actually from 2016; several represent old records only recently shared.

Delaware – No new county records submitted in 2016

District of Columbia – No new county records submitted in 2016

Maryland –


Meadow Fritillary [Boloria bellona (Fabricius, 1775)]

Observer:  Rick Cheicante

Details:  2012 August 24, Dailey Road (DeLorme p. 68, C-3)

Notes:  County tick for Dick’s Butterflies of Unknown Status log (not for MBP)


Northern Pearly-eye [Enodia anthedon A.H. Clark, 1936]

Observer:  Rick Cheicante

Details:  2014 June 29 (submitted in 2016), Friendship Landing Road, Nanjemoy, MD

Notes:  This is a record only for Dick’s Unknown Status project; there are    Charles Co records in the MBP database already.


Southern Cloudywing [Thorybes bathyllus (J.E. Smith, 1797)]

Observer:  Rick Cheicante

Details:  2016 June 10, Pearre Road, Hancock MD (DeLorme p. 69, B-5)

Notes:  Country record for MBP (not for Dick Smith’s Unknown Status project)

Northern Cloudywing [Thorybes pylades (Scudder, 1870)]

Observer:  Rick Cheicante

Details:  2012 May 19, Pearre Road, Hancock MD (DeLorme p. 69, B-5)

Notes:  Country record for Dick Smith’s Unknown Status project (not a record for MBP]

Coral Hairstreak [Satyrium titus (Fabricius, 1793)]

Observer:  Kathy Barylski

Details:  2014 June 28, Pleasant Valley Road

Notes:  Record only for Dick Smith’s status report; already represented for Washington Co in MBP

Brown Elfin [Callophrys augustinus (Westwood, 1852)]

Observer:  Kathy Barylski

Details:  2016 April 26, Lamb’s Knoll

Notes:  County tick for Dick Smith’s project only; already represented in MBP

Harvester [Feniseca tarquinius (Fabricius, 1793)]

Observer:  Multiple observers in 2015

Details:  Indian Springs WMA

Notes:  County tick for Dick Smith’s project only; already represented in MBP

Northern Cloudywing [Thorybes pylades (Scudder, 1870)]

Observer:  Kathy Barylski

Details:  2016 June 6, Pleasant Valley Rd

Notes:  County tick for Dick Smith’s project but superseded as record by Rick Cheicante’s record above; already represented in MBP


Sleepy Duskywing [Erynnis brizo (Boisduval & Leconte, [1837])]

Observer:  Kathy Barylski

Details:  2015 April 19, Little Bennett Regional Park

Notes:  County tick for Dick Smith’s project only; already represented in MBP


Bronze Copper [Lycaena hyllus (Cramer, 1775]

Observer:  Bonnie Ott

Details:  2016 Oct. 18, Meadowbrook Park.

Notes:  This represents a single sighting of this species after an absence of some decades in the Piedmont.  Further exploration of the wet grassland habitat is in order to determine whether this was a transplant from a known population elsewhere or actually represents an extant colony.

Retracted Record:            Bronze Copper for 2007 Frederick Co by Kathy Barylski is withdrawn in favor of American Copper.  This leaves the status of Bronze Copper unknown for Frederick Co. in Dick Smith’s Butterflies of Unknown Status.

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Quino Checkerspot Recovery at San Diego NWF

In the video below, biologist John Martin surveys a plateau on a mountainside at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge on a recent spring morning. The landscape is covered with coastal sage scrub, once the dominant habitat in the Southern California region.

This green ribbon of natural habitat that wraps around Mount San Miguel is a sharp contrast to the urban environment that surrounds the refuge’s 11,000 acres of protected lands.

Martin could see downtown San Diego from this hard-to-reach vantage spot, but that is not what he was there to look at.

“This open area that I’m sitting in is high-quality habitat for Quino checkerspot butterfly,” Martin said.

The endangered Quino checkerspots are flying on the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge this spring for the first time in years.

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Temp Employment Opportunity WV

WV DNR logoThe Whitehall, WV office of the National Resource Conservation Service and the WV Division of Natural Resources are seeking a Partner Biologist to work on pollinators/lepidoptera to conduct professional-level work related to Farm Bill implementation and outreach, management, research and conservation related to monarch butterfly and pollinator conservation and habitat enhancement.  Employment period runs June 1, 2017 through May 31, 2019 with possibility of extension, $15/hr for up to 1,733 hours per calendar year.


View the full announcement:  NRCS-DNR pollonator position announcement

Closing date is April 24, 2017.

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Early Butterflies at National Arbo

2017MAR9_DC-USNA White M 2

White-M Hairstreak Parrhasius m album (Boisduval & Leconte, 1833). Fresh in the wooded Fern Valley section of the US National Arboretum [photo by REB]

I had a chance to stop by the National Arbo in DC after a dental appt this morning; a good selection of early butterflies on the wing:

1 WHITE-M HAIRSTREAK (pristine, knock-out Morpho blue; personal early record for me.  Fern Valley)

6 Summer (Spring brood) Azure (mostly investigating the emerging buds of highbush blueberry in Fern Valley)

6 Small (Cabbage) Whites

1 Orange Sulphur
5 Eastern Commas

1 Mourning Cloak (Fern Valley)

Air temperature in the low 70sF.

That’s the good news.  The less good news is that the former butterfly garden has been whittled down yet again to make room for asparagus beds (more mission creep from the Washington Youth Garden).  At this point, the size of the butterfly garden and its general disrepair suggest that it is too small and too poorly managed to be a useful butterfly watching resource going forward.  A huge new pavilion has gone up where the shed used to be; the construction for this building is why all the buddleia were removed (to make room for construction equipment).

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Common Wisdom About Monarch Genetics Likely Wrong

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Concern Emerges Over Impact of GM Crops on Non-target Insect Predators

Pardosa pseudoannulata, the Pond Wolf Spider

Pardosa pseudoannulata, the Pond Wolf Spider

Concerns about the effect of certain genetically modified (GM) crops have been discussed widely in the butterfly and moth research community, especially the impact of Bt-enhanced crop strains that kill plant herbivores.  A recent paper from Chinese researchers writing in BMC Biotechnology suggests this concern extends even to the predators of insects that feed on GM Bt crops.

At issue is the role of the wolf spider Pardosa pseudoannulata, one of the dominant predators in South China, which plays a crucial role in the rice agroecosystem.  Among its prey items is the brown leafhopper, Nilaparvata lugens, a serious rice pest.  A transgenic variety of rice modified to express Cry1Ab protein from Bacillus thuringiensis, Shanyou 63, is widely planted in China; it acts to inhibit the formation of the planthopper cuticle, apparently by interfering with creating the exoskeleton component chitin.

What the scientists from Hunan University found was that even wolf spiders that fed on brown planthoppers that had been exposed to the transgenic rice suffered significant developmental delays most likely linked to uptake of Cry1AB inhibiting the spiders’ cuticle formation.  And that of course leads to speculation about just how far Cry1AB can travel in the food web of the rice agroecosystem and beyond, and what unintended consequences it might have for non-target species.

Read the full paper here.



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Job Opportunity: Grassland Butterfly Research Technician (North Dakota)

Field technician to assist in data collection on a grassland butterfly research project (40hrs/week). The study objectives include developing abundance and occupancy estimates for grassland dependent butterflies in the Northern Great Plains. Data collection will include butterfly surveying and identification, plant composition, and plant structure. The field season will range from the end of May to beginning of August depending on field conditions (~5/29-8/15). Research sites are located throughout North Dakota and a small portion of South Dakota. Housing will be provided for the duration of the field season.

For the full announcement, see

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