Highlights this week: Bronze Copper, Fiery Skipper, Common Wood-nymph, Gray Comma, Juniper Hairstreak, Carolina Satyr, Hessel’s Hairstreak, Ocola Skipper, Clouded Skipper, Hickory Hairstreak
This week saw emergence of second broods of some butterflies we missed in their first generation this season. Bronze Copper, Gray Comma, and Carolina Satyr all showed up, albeit tardily, on observation lists in the area this week.
Some evidence of migration also popped up in the week’s rolls, including Little Yellow, Cloudless Sulphur, and building numbers of American Snouts (which could be recent migrants or progeny of earlier arrivals). Ocola Skipper and Clouded Skipper both showed up this week, more or less right on time. It’s interesting to note that Clouded Skipper typically shows up just as bindweeds and morning glories begin to bloom for the summer, and one often finds the skippers deep in the throats of these large, tubular corollas. Fiery Skipper seems to be overspreading the region.
Satyrium species have generally been slow to arrive this season, but observers this week picked up Edwards’ Hairstreak, which we usually expect in early June. Coral Hairstreaks are enjoying a pretty good year, apparently, with half a dozen fresh ones on milkweed spotted on the Eastern Shore along with a fresh Striped Hairstreak. Banded Hairstreaks were a bit more common. And the discovery of a Hessel’s Hairstreak in Delaware even made the WHYY news (thanks to Tom Stock for the news tip)! A Hickory Hairstreak in VA just made it into the Almanac region.
The current flight of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a real mixed bag, with tattered individuals of the last flight shoulder to shoulder on buttonbush and buddleia with freshly emerged ones, and with lots of late instar caterpillars still feeding. Zebra Swallowtails were the most abundant butterfly in their habitat on the Eastern Shore of MD this week. Otherwise swallowtails were harder to come by, being mostly between broods.
Not much new on the pierid front not already noted except for a few more Sleepy Oranges. Very low numbers for this species and the aforementioned Cloudless Sulphurs so far this season.
There’s rather a mini-irruption of Red Admirals on some parts of MD’s Eastern Shore just now, a butterfly that has been rather uncommon so far this season. Both Painted and American Ladies were flying this week, with Painted especially more common that normal for the region. Fresh Eastern Commas and Question Marks were noted; they’ll soon make themselves scarce as they aestivate for the hottest days of summer. Common Wood-nymphs were widely reported. For the most part, Little Wood Satyr first brood adults have disappeared; on the Eastern Shore, a fresh flight began just this week. All the expected greater fritillaries were recorded this week, including Atlantis and Aphrodite, along the Appalachian spine. Appalachian Brown numbers grew again this week, while Northern Pearly-eyes were down slightly. Several folks reported Baltimore Checkerspots.
Prognostications: King’s Hairstreak undoubtedly is flying now, although its limited habitat and annoying habit of going up in the canopy by mid-morning cuts down on the number of observations of this sought-after rarity. Great Purple Hairstreak is also due out (I like to think of Great Purple Hairstreaks and Bronze Coppers as usually flying together in similar habitat, their orange and purple contrast reminding one of the Old Nassau Reaction many of us learned in high school chemistry). The first Brazilian Skippers are imminent, too, especially since the uptick in trade of potted cannas from Florida, which trailed off a bit during the height of COVID.
Food for thought: Given that it is high season for summer counts, I thought you might enjoy this recent article from Ecology and Society about who participates in similar activities in Germany and what their motivations are. Summarizing the results, the authors note that the typical participant of the TMD project (a long-term volunteer count) is close to retirement or already retired, male, does not work professionally in entomology, and holds a university degree. Sounds a lot like the NABA counts!
The weekly Almanac captures sightings and butterfly news from the heart of the mid-Atlantic, roughly 3 hours in any direction from DC. Share your observations and questions about regional butterflies here as a comment or, if you’re in Maryland or DC, on MDLepsOdes, the Google Group for field observations of leps and odonates.