This week the big news is numerous reports of Long-tailed Skippers across the region. They’re particularly fond of flat, bright flowers — zinnias, tithonia, sunflowers, lantanta — but are spastic and promiscuous nectarers that can show up anywhere.
Good fresh Horace’s Duskywings continue to emerge; a new flight of fresh Eastern Tailed-blues was on the wing this week, and I have a bright new Pipevine Swallowtail and a fresh Spicebush Swallowtail haunting the tithonia in the yard this morning. The tray of rotting fruit I put out has Red Admiral, Red-spotted Purple, and an Eastern Comma mostly harmoniously taking up the fermenting juice, along with a cloud of bees, yellowjackets, and paper wasps.
Fiery, Peck’s and Sachem Skippers predominate on local flowers this week; Brazilian Skipper has been seen as close as Norfolk — maybe this will be our year to find these canna specialists on a local patch of cannas (hint: look for the cigar-rolled canna leaves where the caterpillar feeds, or for the adults plunged head-down into deep canna or morning-glory flowers). Gray, White M and Red-banded Hairstreaks are out there too.
The Painted Lady irruption continues here, but not nearly as explosively as in the Northeast and lower Canada. A final brood of Black Swallowtails is out on the Eastern Shore.
And it appears to have been a good year for Monarchs, which are beginning their slow-drifting southward peregrination. The southbound migrants right now are in reproductive diapause; the cats we’ve been seeing on milkweed owe their presences not to these migrants but mostly to multiple waves of Monarchs making their way sporadically northward over the summer.