It may seem like spring was rushed and that we should still be in the middle of it, but from a butterfly perspective we’re heading quickly into summer. Many of the univoltine species are spent or nearly so: Spring Azure, Olympia Marble, Falcate Orangetip. Even some of the first broods of univoltine butterflies are mostly done for, like the first flights of Zebra Swallowtail and Summer Azure. Within weeks we’ll be well into summer butterfly fauna, including the univoltine Satyrium hairstreaks (Coral, Striped, Banded, Edwards) and skippers (Indian).
That means a couple of new FOYs this week. Among the swallowtails, Palamedes is on the wing in the Pocomoke River drainage (and it’s worth noting more than 1,000 were logged on a field trip in the Great Dismal Swamp VA). More Appalachian Tiger Swallowtails were observed (or at least swallowtails on the Eastern-Appalachian spectrum), and Spicebush and Pipevine numbers bumped up a bit. First brood Eastern Tigers are looking pretty frazzled on the Piedmont, but still pretty fresh in the mountains, but fresh large yellow swallowtails in the mountains are likely to have at least some Appalachian Tiger genetic heritage.
Whites and sulphurs continue to disappoint; the hoped for mass flight of Cloudless Sulphurs has not materialized but there may have been enough infiltrating our area that senna patches could yield good local flights later in the season. Small (Cabbage) Whites are having a very modest spring; ditto Clouded and Orange Sulphurs.
There’s a bit of a lull in gossamer wings; we’re beginning to see fresh Summer Azures (the progeny of the first azures we see in the spring here in the mid-Atlantic) but most of the other springtime azures are toast. Fresh Appalachian Azure were observed flying this week; we can see this taxon in the mountains into June. Elfins are mostly history, too, but observers on the Eastern Shore did pick up a couple of tattered Frosted Elfins last week. Juniper Hairstreaks had a rather short window this spring, it seems; only one current report. American Coppers are still about, as are some remaining first-brood Eastern Tailed-blue (which has a more or less rolling, continuous emergence through the summer here).
Brushfooted butterflies led off the rolls this week with Little Wood Satyr, which means it’s a good bet Carolina Satyr is also out. Variegated Fritillaries were reported, but no new reports of Meadow Fritillary, which means I suspect that the first brood is over or nearly so. Pearl Crescents are doing better this year than last, but still not gangbusters. Rather low numbers of Monarchs are being observed moving through, but probably more are out than we see because suddenly caterpillars are showing up on milkweed. Red Admiral is having a good season; Red-spotted Purples have been pretty common also with Viceroy less so but reported. Both American and Painted Ladies were reported in the past week, and in western MD roadside pussytoes leaves are heavily tented with young American Lady larvae inside. And as anticipated last week, Northern Crescents of the cocyta-group are flying now as well (check the underside of the antennal club of the males!) in both VA and MD. American Snout seems to be experiencing a weak northern push; Common Buckeyes were widespread but in low numbers this week. Silvery Checkerspot in the mountains is in its final instar so we should be seeing adults soon.
Skippers will have a tick up in the next few weeks, led by Hobomok (which is flying with Zabulon with similar habits and hereabouts sports the dark female form ‘pocahantas‘), Least, Sachem, Common Roadside-skipper, and Common Sootywing. A rather poor showing this spring for Silver-spotted Skippers, which will relieve soybean farmers, although numbers look to be picking up just in the past few days. Hoary Edge skippers have returned to their prime spot along Hoop Pole Road in Green Ridge State Forest. And Northern Cloudywing made its predicted (in the last Forecast) appearance. FOY Tawny-edged Skippers were observed. Best skipper of the week undoubtedly was the Golden Banded-skipper near Front Royal, VA — this species seems to be in serious decline in the East despite the widespread occurrence of its larval host, American hog-peanut.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The next week through the end of May should bring out both emperors, Hackberry and Tawny; our first of the summer flush of summer Satyrium hairstreaks; and the earliest of the coastal and marsh skippers including Broad-winged, Aaron’s, Delaware and Dion. We should also be seeing the first Little Glassywing and Southern Broken-dash skippers (both flying in the Great Dismal now). And of course the most common azure you’ll be seeing the rest of the summer is, well, Summer Azure. Watch for Sleepy Orange as well. The first Baltimore Checkerspots of the year could show up any time, as could Silvery Checkerspot on the Piedmont (be sure to look closely at the black spots on the rear margin of the dorsal hindwing of large-ish Pearl Crescents for white “windows” in the black spots). We could add to the satyrid list for the year with Northern Pearly-eye and Common Wood Nymph.
SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING: Looks like most of us will see a fair amount of sun and warm temperatures this weekend, which might bring out a few more FOYs. You can share your sightings for the next Forecast here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or by posting to local listservs like MDLepsOdes.