Butterfly Conservation Europe Activity Report 2015

th_tekstfoto1036The Brits and Europeans are yards (pun intended) ahead of us Yanks on undertaking butterfly conservation projects.  Practically every British county (equivalent to our States) has its own butterfly monitoring scheme, field activities, and conservation programs in place, and much of Europe does as well.

The Butterfly Conservation Europe Activity report for 2015 details a number of these projects, and can give us ideas about how we might step up our game in butterfly citizen science and conservation.

PDF version:  Butterfly Conservation Europe Activity Report 2015

Posted in conservation, endangered species, European butterflies, general butterfly news | Leave a comment

Weekend Lep Field Forecast for 2016 April 30-May 1

West Virginia White along the Youghiogheny River in Garrett Co MD, showing heavy gray scaling of this univoltine spring pierid [2016 April 23, photo by REB]

West Virginia White along the Youghiogheny River in Garrett Co MD, showing heavy gray scaling on the underwings of this univoltine spring pierid [2016 April 23, photo by REB]

Wet. And cold. And dismal.

That about sums it up for the weather this weekend, and it’s unlikely anyone locally will be seeing much in the way of butterflies this Mayday. I could hardly muster the enthusiasm for a Forecast! But just in case you venture afield and find a stray sunshower between the drizzle and the damp and the rain, here are a few things to look for.

In NJ, Hessel’s Hairstreak is on the wing, where it is flying with Holly and Blueberry Azures. Although Hoary Elfin has not yet been reported there too but likely will be this week when the weather turns.

Closer to home, sightings of note were of Meadow Fritillary in Montgomery Co (MD) and a FOS report of Silvery Checkerspot at Patuxent North in Anne Arundel Co (MD). Reports of Silver-spotted Skipper and multiple FOS Red-spotted Purples in the region also came in over the past week.  Carolina Satyr is out and about in VA and should be shortly in MD (best chances to see this lep are in Charles Co); the more common Little Wood Satyr usually emerges about now as well.

Flights of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail are at peak about now, and this swallowtail seems to be having a great first brood (unlike last year’s anemic first flight). They were omnipresent in Garrett Co (MD) last weekend. Zebra Swallowtail also is at first generation peak, and a good places to see large numbers of them are at Elk Neck State Park (Cecil Co, MD) and Susquehanna State Park (Harford Co, MD). Black Swallowtail is also flying.

[Late addition to the Forecast:  Curt Lehman photographed a Sleepy Orange ovipositing in Allegheny Co PA on April 25]

West Virginia Whites also seem to be enjoying a good flight for this univoltine species. Multiples were observed last weekend at several locations in Garrett Co (MD) in the Potomac and Yough river systems, as well as in a location they haven’t (to my knowledge) been seen for a while: Big Run State Park. All of these spots have one thing in common: little or no garlic mustard, an invasive weed that acts as an “oviposition sink” for the butterfly: Females find the chemical signature of this plant so alluring they will lay all their eggs on it rather than on the native toothworts that were their historic host plants, and the caterpillars are unable to metabolize something in the garlic mustard and die. Reports of this species are always welcome.

Speaking of reports, there is an interesting and timely post on the South Jersey Butterfly B/Log about reporting “undesignated” locations to protect the location of sensitive species in their quite sophisticated (and envy inducing for LepLog) sightings database. Read the discussion.

This is a great weekend for daydreaming about sunny skies and planning field trips later in the season, so check out the master field trip and annual count calendar listings above (I’ve added a couple of new ones, and if you have others to announce let me know!).  Myself, I’ll be putting the final touches on the syllabus and course materials for Butterflies of Early Summer, my 5-week introduction to spring and early summer species for the Natural History Field Studies program of the Audubon Naturalist Society co-sponsored with Graduate School USA.

Some of us from MDLOG (MD Leps/Odes Group) will be decamping to Garrett Co. Friday and Saturday (and some of us on Sunday, Mother’s Day) next weekend.  See the note in the calendar and we’d be happy to have company.

And just because we’re socked in by bad weather, others regionally might have better luck, and we hope they’ll leave their sightings here at  https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

Posted in Field Trips/Annual Counts, Forecasts, general butterfly news | 2 Comments

Gray(ish) and White in Garrett County

2016 Apr 23 white trillium_MD-Garrett Co-Friendsville along Kendall Trail

Trillium grandiflorum (White Trillium) along the Kendall Trail in Garrett Co MD .  West Vriginia Whites flying among these ghostly white flowers are a real treat to watch [2016 March 23, photo by REB]

Saturday did not dawn very auspiciously, but I had already planned to visit Frostburg for a literature reading in the morning and decided to spend the rest of the day exploring areas of Garrett Co. I had not yet visited. The plan was to spend the night in Grantsville and spend Sunday (forecast to be much warmer and sunnier) driving down to Lostland Run along the Potomac to the only reliable colony of West Virginia Whites I knew about. Along the way I had planned to set up an anglewing trap, or Malaise trap, along Big Run in Savage River State Forest to see if I could entice some Gray Commas.

But life sometimes intervenes. As it happens I’d been reading about some other trails along the Youghiogheny River where sandstone outcrops abut the river and offer shelter for Green Salamanders, an endangered species that lives in these sandstone fractures, so I packed along a small headlamp to look back deep into these cracks. The spot I picked to look for these superbly camouflaged salamanders was along a trail upstream of Friendsville, known as the Kendall Trail after the abandoned village of Kendall a couple of miles upriver. Until one reaches that area, it’s a nice, flat old logging road that parallels the Yough, wet and muddy in places but still eminently easy to traverse.

I arrived in Friendsville around 1 pm after a stop at the Garrett Co Visitor Center in McHenry for maps and directions. Within a half hour or so, the clouds began to break up and the afternoon turned out to be spectacularly sunny and not too hot.

Trillium erectum, Red Trillium, was much outnumbered by large white trilliums [2016 April 23, photo by REB]

Trillium erectum, Red Trillium, was much outnumbered by large white trilliums [2016 April 23, photo by REB]

Wildflowers were abundant: lousewort, several kinds of toothwort, squirrel corn, bluets, red and white trilliiums, hepaticas, and many more. One of the few othere hikers had ramps and morels. And importantly – for reasons we’ll see in a moment – none of the invasive garlic mustard that has become such an invasive nuisance in woods and forests across the state.

There were plenty of duskywings along the trail as I walked, all Juvenal’s when I was able to get a look at the leading edge of the HW for the telltale two pale spots. But the real treat came about a mile up the trail when I noticed a pale white butterfly basking on the side of tree in the floodplain of the river. I crept closer to ascertain it was in fact a West Virginia White, one of 11 I would see along this trail with a multitude of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails on Saturday afternoon. Kendall Trail is a much more accommodating path for those looking for West Virginia White than Lostland Run Trail, that’s for darn sure. I also used the time to collect a number of interesting mosses for later study, and will be working on keying out the 30 or so species I collected for weeks to come.

First West VIrginia White asking on a tree along the Yough [2016 Apr 23, photo by REB]

First West VIrginia White, Pieris virginiensis, basking on a tree along the Yough [2016 Apr 23, photo by REB]

A West Virginia White showing the extensive grayish scales of fresh individuals that help them with thermoregulation [2016 Apr 23, photo by REB]

A West Virginia White showing the extensive grayish scales of fresh individuals that give them thier “ghostly” appearance flying in western MD, and help them with thermoregulation [2016 Apr 23, photo by REB]

I waited for dark, listening to Mountain Chorus Frogs and Spring Peppers,  to check out some of the sandstone outcrops for wandering Green Salamanders, to no avail. But I stopped for BBQ at Archies in McHenry anyhow to celebrate finding a new location for West Virginia Whites.

I slept in a little on Sunday morning, then headed down to Savage River Forest by way of Big Run Road looking for a likely by hidden spot to hang the Malaise trap. But I didn’t get very far before running into Beth Johnson, fresh from a Maryland Biodiversity Project field trip to Green Ridge State Forest the day before. We looked over some of the duskywings along Big Run (all Juvenal’s at that juncture), commented on the high numbers of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, and discussed how West Virginia Whites had once been rather common along Big Run before garlic mustard had been introduced to the area – garlic mustard, you see, is chemically more attractive to female whites even than the species’ normal toothwort host plants, but it’s toxic to the caterpillars and they die. This phenomenon is know to biologists as an “oviposition sink” and has driven the West Virginia White to extirpation throughout almost all of its historic range from Frederick West. Along Kendall Trail, garlic mustard is practically absent; there is garlic mustard along Big Run but not that much of it.

After kibitzing with Beth for a while, I continued my search for a spot for the trap. But I also stopped in at every unoccupied campsite along Big Run Road to check for Gray Commas that come to imbibe whether liquid refreshments campers might have dribbled behind. And sure enough, Site 135 had what I first took to be a pristine and cooperative Gray Comma in a puddle party of dozens of Juvenal’s Duskywings. Size was right, a decent amount of striation on the underside, and certainly Big Run is the go-to place for Gray Comma in MD.

Shortly after posting the first version of this blog report, though, Rick Cavasin gently suggested this was just an unusually marked Eastern Comma.  And sure enough, had I been less carried away by the rich and heady spring in the hemlocks, I would have noticed that this beast, though strangely marked for an Eastern, still has the diagnostic character that I always look for to distinguish them:  Eastern Comma “commas” always (or almost always) are hooked , or at least clubbed, on both ends of the silver mark. On Gray, the silver streak is pretty thin, and on the underside — while it can be variable — the striations are typically more apparent and oriented almost horizontally.  There are other characteristics, which Rick does a great job of illustrating on his web site

Gray's Comma, Poygonia progne, at campsite 135 along Big Run in Savage River Forest [2016 Apr 26]

Eastern Comma masquerading as a Gray Comma at campsite 135 along Big Run in Savage River Forest [2016 Apr 26]

Upperside of Gray Comma along Big Run Road in Garrett Co. [2016 Apr 23, photo by REB]

Upperside of Eastern Comma along Big Run Road in Garrett Co. [2016 Apr 23, photo by REB]

After photodocumenting the presumed Gray – and thereby eliminating the need to set up the anglewing trap, which might actually have netted me a Gray Comma had I bothered — I stopped at one area just on the inside of Big Run State Park, and while I dismissed the location for a trap I did see a number of azures (several of which I pinched and have waiting for me to ID – I’m guessing Northern Azure since flowering dogwood, necessary for Spring Azure, is absent in the spruce and hemlock forest there. I saw a dark morph female tiger swallowtail, azures and many, many duskywings, all Juvenal’s still as far as I could tell from the ones I looked over. [Azure update:  All C. ladon, Spring Azure, which had I paid attention to Harry’s notes I would have remembered also use Wild Cherry as a host in the western mountains]

At this point a pale grayish white butterfly sailed by slowly; I gave chase but it sallied out of reach quickly into the underbrush. Of course after telling Beth it had been more than a decade since confirmed sightings of West Virginia White here, I was predisposed to think it was a Cabbage White, which I didn’t have the energy to chase even though all the signs were great for West Virginia.

Needless to say, in another nearby part of the park, Beth found and photographed a mating pair of West Virginia Whites, so we can confidently say they have returned or persisted along Big Run. It’s always great to be able to write about an expanded opportunity to see an iconic butterfly, and even better to re-add West Virginia Whites to the Big Run butterfly list!

Now I just have to return to Big Run for Gray Comma!  Currently that’s planned for the weekend of May 7-8, our next LepTrek.



Posted in conservation, general butterfly news, sightings | 1 Comment

Weekend Lep Field Forecast for 2016 April 23-24

White-M Hairstreak photographed by Richard Orr in the Catoctin Mountains near Frederick MD 2016 April 20 [see more of Richard's great pix of odes and butterflies and other things at https://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonflyhunter/]

White-M Hairstreak photographed by Richard Orr in the Catoctin Mountains near Frederick MD 2016 April 20.  See more of Richard’s great pix of odes and butterflies and other things at https://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonflyhunter

Last weekend was spectacular, and as expected quite a number of sightings came in over the past few days from weekend observers. It’s been very dry, and especially in barrens and on dry hillsides many early blooms are browning out prematurely, so nectar abundance was an issue at many localities. The rain predicted as a precursor to this weekend should ameliorate that to some extent, and provoke another round of new emergences.

We have the full complement of spring duskywings flying now, predominantly Juvenal’s but an increasing number of Horace’s as well. As one heads west we also are picking up a good flight this year of Sleepy Duskywings, and in Allegany Co MD at least Dreamy is beginning to fly also. The first Wild Indigo Duskywing was also reported this weekend (also in Allegany Co). Cobweb Skipper is flying in Green Ridge State Forest and should be looked for elsewhere in dry fields and on hillsides where bluestem grasses provide food for the caterpillars. This weekend is likely to produce the region’s first cloudywings; Northern Cloudywing is being seen in the Carolina mountains already. In its known redoubts in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Appalachian Grizzled Skipper is also out, presumably at the beginning of its flight as it is being seen in low numbers still. Common Checkered-skipper is also out.  Silver-spotted Skipper will probably be picked up this weekend or during the week next here; it’s on the wing in VA and the Carolinas. My guess is that Dusted Skipper will also be out and about this weekend in places like Soldiers Delight.

All three “common” elfins were seen this week throughout the region – Brown, Henry’s, and Eastern Pine. It’s still a little early for Frosted Elfin, which flies just as the lupine begins to break bud. Hoary Elfin in NJ (we have no confirmed populations in MD anymore) probably are beginning flight but haven’t been reported yet.

Other lycaenids showing themselves this past week include our first Olive (Juniper) Hairstreaks, as well as Gray Hairstreaks. Hessel’s Hairstreak is flying in the Carolinas (and possibly in VA’s Great Dismal Swamp). Red-banded will almost certainly be picked up this weekend, while White-M also is being seen (in smaller numbers than recent years). Azures are a mixed lot now; the early “spring” Summer Azure population is about tanked or at least very worn, Summer Azure is flying where dogwood is now flowering, and American Holly Azure and the NJ version of Northern Azure (“Blueberry Azure”) are out as is the nominate Northern Azure (in the VA and MD mountains at elevation, certainly). Probably Cherry Gall Azure is out, too. We’re a week or two away from Appalachian Azure, is my guess. Eastern Tailed-blues are out in force.

American Coppers are out. Harvester is flying in VA and the Carolinas.

Five of the local swallowtails are in full flight: Eastern Tiger, Black, Spicebush, Pipevine, and Zebra. Giant would not be surprising but hard to come by in the mid-Atlantic these days. Palamedes is on the wing in the Great Dismal and likely is or will be out soon in the local colony near Pocomoke City.

Pearl Crescents are beginning to show in multiples. Most of the anglewing sightings have been of Eastern Comma, with a few Question Marks thrown in, but it has not been a good anglewing year despite (or because of?) the warm winter. Ditto for Mourning Cloaks. Red Admirals and American Ladies are already well into their northern migration throughout the area.  Early sightings of Meadow Fritillary and continuing sightings of early Variegated Fritillary came in this week also.

On the pierid ledger are continuing Olympia Marbles in the western MD shale barren areas. Still relatively low numbers (in most places) of both Orange and Clouded Sulphurs. Falcate Orangetips were numerous in the mountains this past weekend but clearly past peak in the Piedmont and Eastern Shore locations. Cabbage (Small) White is having a mediocre spring flight; no new sightings beyond the one early tick of Checkered White that I am aware of. I’ll be looking for West Virginia Whites on a scouting expedition for leps in Garrett Co. this weekend.

I’m sure the warm but not too hot temperatures and abundant sunshine will lure many of us out into the field again. If so, post or send us your sightings for the next Weekend Forecast. In the meantime, visit us at  https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups atMDLepsOdes.

Posted in Field Trips/Annual Counts, general butterfly news, sightings | Leave a comment

Green Ridge LepTrek — Marble, Silver, and Cobwebs


MD/LOG field trip participants examine an Olympia Marble in Green Ridge State Forest. Left to right: Rick, Tim, Tom, Darcy, Beth (partially obscured) and Mark. Monica took the pic and Don was undoubtedly off chasing a Pine Elfin for a money shot. [2016 April 17]

The Maryland Leps/Odes Group (MD/LOG) hosted its inaugural field trip Sunday on a foray to Green Ridge for the shale barren specialties for which this area is justly famous.  Beth Johnson, Tom Stock and I from MD/LOG drove out to Green Ridge State Forest early on Sunday morning, having advance notice from our scout and colleague Tim Reichard that our favorite staging location, the Citgo station at exit 72, was closed for renovation of the plaza and gas pumps.  So we quickly regrouped for our alternate location, the Visitor Center and Headquarters just down the highway on M.V. Smith Road.  Joining us there were Tim, Darcy Herman, and Mark Sabiston from the metro area and our friends from PA Leps/Odes Monica Miller and Don Weiss.


Uhler’s Sundragon, an uncommon to rare early spring dragonfly of clear forest streams. [2016 April 17, photo by Don Weiss]

First stop was along Sideling Hill Creek, where we puzzled over the array of duskywings, carefully picking out Juvenal’s and Sleepy Duskywings and seeing three of the currently flying swallowtails:  Eastern Tiger, Zebra and Spicebush.  We saw our first of many Falcate Orangetips, at this season about 50/50 male/female.  And we walked up the road a bit to a cluster of old Eastern red-cedars, where we saw a couple of likely Olive (Juniper) Hairstreaks well up in the trees but could not get a lock on them.  I lucked out when Tim pointed to a flying ode that landed and gave us all great looks at one of the specialties of Sideling Hill Creek, Uhler’s Sundragon!  The group was also treated to a very cooperative Northern Black Racer apparently enjoying the sunshine as much as we were.


Northern Black Racer [2016 April 17, photo by Don Weiss]

Next up was a stop along Stottlemeyer Road with a row of blooming redbud on the left and a shale scree bank with blooming pussytoes, ragwort, saxifrage and bird’s-foot violet on the right.  Interspersed with the redbud was more red-cedar, and here we got good looks at Olive Hairstreaks.  Also on tap were Spring Azures ovipositing on flowering dogwood, more duskywings, and our first Pipevine Swallowtail.

The turn up Hoop Pole Road gave us two of our three elfins for the day, Brown and Henry’s.

With the afternoon well upon us, we stopped for a quick picnic lunch before assaying the treacherously steep and crumbly descent (and then ascent) to the best of the known Olympia Marble sites.  En route to the sweet spot we found one of several Cobweb Skippers seen by members of the group.  We spent an hour or so there, alternately catching our breaths and chasing small whites that invariably turned out to be Falcates.


Cobweb Skipper nectaring on vetch. This is another univoltine species, flying in early-mid-spring on barrens and dry hillside areas with bluestem grasses [2016 April 17, photo by Don Weiss]

Tim relieved the tedium by hustling up a couple of Pine Elfins to make it an elfin trifecta day, and we had a number of the rare and local Cow Path Tiger Beetles that share the dry barrens habitat with Marbles.  We were getting ready to slip-slide back down the shale scree when Mark yelled out “Marble!” and sent us all scrambling over to find a very gravid female nectaring near the ground on small cresses and field pansies.  It started to fly off and I netted it for closer looks.  We had two more on the descent and climb back up to the waiting cars.  Don and Monica took an alternate and less life-threatening path back to the cars and thence back to PA; the rest of us struggled back up the hillside we’d butt-slid down.

The way you *want* to see Olympia Marbles in Green Ridge [photo by Don Weiss, 2016 April 16]

The way you *want* to see Olympia Marbles in Green Ridge [photo by Don Weiss, 2016 April 17]

The way you'd rather *not* see an Olympia Marble in Green Ridge [photo by Don Weiss, 2016 April 17]

The way you’d rather *not* see an Olympia Marble in Green Ridge [photo by Don Weiss, 2016 April 17]

Those amazing Marble eyes [2016 April 17, photo by Darcy Herman]

Those amazing Marble eyes [2016 April 17, photo by Darcy Herman]

The sun was starting to drop below the tree level when we made it finally to  the start of Kasecamp Road, where our first concentration of Dreamy Skippers fluttered around the gravel lot.  On the shale hillside above us, we finally saw Silvery Blues, a lifer for some of the team and one of the our targets (along with Marbles and Cobweb Skipper).

After a stop at the overlook of the Potomac on Carroll Road — and a chance to watch a flock of wild turkeys sort out territorial and sexual hierarchy on the fields below — Mark and Darcy peeled off to return Tim to his car while Tom, Beth and I headed into Hancock for a celebratory dinner at Buddy Lou’s — where Tim rejoined us out on the patio for some well-earned dinner and discussion of our sightings of the day.

A new LepLunch locale in Hancock: Buddy Lou's

A new LepLunch locale in Hancock: Buddy Lou’s

We’re indebted to everyone who took photos, but especially to ace photographer Don Weiss, whose other butterfly photography is stunning too.

Here’s the species list Tom put together for us:

Butterfly List for MdLepsOdes Trip to Green Ridge State Forest, Allegany County, Maryland

April 17, 2016

All species were common to abundant except as noted:

Pipevine Swallowtail (2)

Zebra Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Spicebush Swallowtail (1)

Cabbage White (6)

Olympia Marble (3) (2 netted, one on-the-wing ID)

Falcate Orangetip

Clouded Sulphur (2)

Orange Sulphur (8)

Brown Elfin (2)

Henry’s Elfin (5)

Pine Elfin (3)

Olive (Juniper) Hairstreak (3)

Eastern Tailed Blue

Spring Azure

Silvery Blue (1)

Eastern Comma (1)

Mourning Cloak (1)

American Lady (5)

Pearl Crescent (2)

Dreamy Duskywing

Sleepy Duskywing

Juvenal’s Duskywing

Wild Indigo Duskywing (1)

Cobweb Skipper (1) (Don and Monica saw more on the way back to their car)

Posted in Field Trips/Annual Counts, general butterfly news, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Weekend Lep Field Forecast for 2016 April 16-17

My FOY Eastern Tailed-blues showed up last weekend in Patuxent Wildlife Refuge's North Tract [2016 Aprii 10, MD-Anne Arundel Co. Photo by REB]

My FOY Eastern Tailed-blues showed up last weekend in Patuxent Wildlife Refuge’s North Tract [2016 Aprii 10, MD-Anne Arundel Co. Photo by REB]

The weather finally moderated this week but still is running a bit below average, yet the recent chills – and even the hard freezes we had early this week – do not seem to have affected adults already in flight. Whether the host plants they need, especially first broods of summer butterflies like Zebra and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, have suffered much damage is yet to be seen.

Even in the mid-40’s F temperature of last weekend a number of butterflies that had emerged earlier in the week were flying well at Patuxent North Wildlife Refuge in Anne Arundel Co., including Henry’s Elfin, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Zebra Swallowtail, and fresh Eastern Tailed-blues. Conspicuously absent where they had been flying here a week ago were any azures and Falcate Orangetips. The warmer end of the week brought Falcates back at most previous locations by today.

Elsewhere Zebra Swallowtails seem to be popping up in all the usual places with pawpaw, the larval host. The warm weather predicted for the weekend is likely to bring out the first Pipevine and Black Swallowtails as well.

Cabbage White seems to be having a meager first brood; perhaps this is owing to cold rain as they emerged, or perhaps the warm winter favored their diseases or predators.   Orange and Clouded Sulphurs also seem to be off the mark so far. And while it hasn’t been reported here yet – likely because no one has been looking in its habitat yet – West Virginia White emerged in Connecticut already so is likely on the wing in Garrett Co.

Eastern Pine Elfin wasn’t reported this week, and Brown Elfins have not yet been observed in MD (ther are reports from WV), but Henry’s Elfins were widely observed.

The first Red Admirals were reported from Frederick Co (MD) this week, but sightings of Commas already appear to have dropped off. Question Mark has been very rarely reported so far. Mourning Cloak numbers are generally low but the species is still seen in most of its known habitats.  Pearl Crescents have emerged.

To our north along the NJ coast, our friends at the South Jersey Butterfly B/Log have been reporting significant numbers of American Ladies, sufficient to suggest that a northward migration is underway. Jersey lepsters have also reported American Copper in addition to the same Red Admiral surge we’ve seen locally.

The only bona fide hairstreak reported so far this season is Gray, although I will be very surprised if Juniper Hairstreak won’t be picked up by folks in the field this weekend (it has been reported in Rockingham Co VA already). It’s worth checking out mature stands of Eastern red-cedar and watching for aerial dogfights among the males at the tops of the trees (or on dandelions in the grass under the trees).  If not this weekend then within the next week we’ll also likely receiving sightings of Red-banded Hairstreak across the region, and Hessel’s Hairstreak in the Atlantic White-cedar swamps of New Jersey.

The primary duskywing flying now is Juvenal’s; all of the candidate duskywings I’ve netted or seen closely enough this week to observe the tell-tale spots (or lack thereof) on the VHW have been Juvenal’s rather than Horace’s, but Horace’s has been reported at several locations. To the west, Sleepy Duskywing is also flying and I suspect this weekend we’ll also have reports of Dreamy. Cobweb Skipper is also likely to make an appearance in the warm weekend sunshine.

I’m sure the warm temperatures and abundant sunshine this weekend will lure many of us out into the field. If so, post or send us your sightings for the next Weekend Forecast. In the meantime, visit us at  https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

Posted in Forecasts | 1 Comment

Henry’s Elfins in a New Spring Green

Since until the weather warms up a little bit we’re going to be studying elfins more than looking for newly emerging summer butterflies, I thought I’d devote a little space to a seldom noticed (at least by me!) green color variant of Henry’s Elfin that Harry Pavulaan described as Incisalia henrici viridissima in the 1998 Maryland Entomologist.

I was mostly blissfully unaware of this critter, accustomed to seeing mostly the chocolate or reddish brown Henry’s Elfins that are our local subspecies (I. h. henrici), until a colleague from the West Coast, Dennis Holmes, shared some photos he had taken in late March in PG and Anne Arundel Counties.  He asked if our local subspecies were henrici or viridissima, as the Butterflies of America site showed this area to be a zone of overlap.

2016 MAR 30 Henry's Elfin_pic Dennis Holmes_MD-Prince Georges Co

A Henry’s Elfin photographed by Dennis Holmes on 2016 March 30 at Piscataway Park in Prince Georges Co. [photo courtesy Dennis Holmes].

I rather too quickly noted back to him that I’d only seen nominate henrici around the metro DC counties, and that “Greenish Henry’s Elfin” was described based mostly on coastal Carolina material.  All well and good.

Then I saw this stunning photo on Maryland Biodiversity Project, also taken the last week of March at Ellis Bay WMA in Wicomico Co. that Harry notes is “about as green as ssp. viridissima gets!”  In fact, he notes, “The ‘Greenish Henry’s Elfin’ is also found in lesser percentage among more typical henrici in Cedarville State Forest and around Annapolis, no doubt in holly forests all the way down to Pt. Lookout.”


Henry’s Elfin ssp viridissima — ‘Greenish Henry’s Elfin’ — taken May 31 at Ellis Bay WMA, Wicomico Co [photo courtesy Jeff Culler]

So I need to start looking much more carefully at the Henry’s Elfins I’m seeing on the Eastern Shore and even on the MD Eastern Shore this season.  And I’d be interested in hearing from field observers which of the two subspecies they’re seeing this spring in the holly swamps and woods.

LepLog readers might also find interesting a paper I uncovered sleuthing this out from the late Ron Gatrelle in the 1999 The Taxonomic Report, where he posits some interesting evolutionary relationships among the various Henry’s Elfin populations based on their host plant associations.

By the way, if you don’t already know Dennis Holmes’ incredible butterfly photography, check it out on his Flickr page.

Posted in general butterfly news, Identification tips | 6 Comments