Lilypons Water Gardens

Well, I had every intention of going on one of the Loudon County counts today, but given that the folks there didn’t send any information or coordinates out until less than 24 hours before the count started and I didn’t see the email until it was too late to get there this morning, I had to figure out alternatives.  Which consisted first of going back to bed, and then planning the day when I got up again.

First stop was Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase to take advantage of the August bird sale (20% off for members).  Full stocked up with sunflower chips and mixed seed, and finding myself already in Montgomery Co near I-270, I decided to head up to Lilypons Water Garden in hopes of seeing the fiery skippers that Denise Gibbs posted about on VA-MD-DE-Bugs last week:

>>7/30 Lilypons water gardens near Buckeystown, MD:
Unfortunately, the owners had nuked all the native vegetation around the
ponds, but they missed a few spots with New York ironweed and swamp
milkweed. The milkweed plants were magnets for many butterfly species but in
particular there were about a dozen monarchs (the most I have seen in
any one spot this season).  The owners also bulldozed some of the trails between the ponds, leaving lots of good muddy spots, which were loaded with eastern tailed blues, common checkered skippers and pearl crescents. Fiery skippers were also
abundant and nectaring on the NY ironweed.<<

I got to Lilypons around 2:30, and everyone knows what an incredibly gorgeous day it was here in the DC area:  sunny and warm but not too hot, a light breeze and low humidity.  And lots was in bloom at Lilypons this week, although I found the ironweed almost devoid of of butterflies.  The blue spikes of pickerel weed were pretty productive, though, and I picked up tawny skippers and a number of other common species pretty quickly.  But I must have examined every ironweed and swamp milkweed and mint plant for an hour without seeing a single fiery skipper.  Great habitat, though:

Ironweed, mint and prunella made this a likely spot for fiery skippers

Ironweed, mint and prunella made this a likely spot for fiery skippers

Then I spotted my first fiery — nowhere near a nectar plant.  It was a male, as was the only other fiery I saw today (also at Lilypons), but they were patrolling away along the pathways instead of nectaring.  May have been late enough in the day they had finished nectaring and were settling down to the business of finding mates.

Nothing truly exciting (the fiery skippers were for me because they were a first of the year species for the DelMarVa Butterfly Big Year), but a good diversity nonetheless.  The common checkered-skippers were quite common, but pearl crescents and common buckeyes were superabundant.

The Monocacy was quite low, and huge carp were wallowing in the shallows exploring the mud flats for food.  Their long bronze backs were sticking out of the shallow water while they rooted around in the mud.

The list for Lilypons today (where c=common, 5-10; abundant, 10-100; superabundant >100):
-==| Field Trip |==-

Date: 08/07/2010
Number of Species: 22
Number of Individuals: 433
Lilypons Water Garden
MD , USA   21710
Notes: In the field from 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm; sunny and warm (mid-80’s F.).  Walked around most of the impoundments and along the Monocacy River.  Light breeze, low humidity.  Principal nectar sources included ironweed, swamp milkweed, mint, teasel, clover, pickerel weed, and frogfruit (Lippia).

-==| List of Sightings for this Field Trip |==-
Common Name     Scientific Name Life Stage      Number Seen     Notes
Zebra Swallowtail       Eurytides marcellus     Adult   1       very worn; nectaring teasel
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail       Papilio glaucus Adult   C       only yellow morphs
Spicebush Swallowtail   Papilio troilus Adult   2
Clouded Sulphur Colias philodice        Adult   5
Orange Sulphur  Colias eurytheme        Adult   4
Little Yellow   Eurema lisa     Adult   3
Gray Hairstreak Strymon melinus Adult   1
Eastern Tailed-Blue     Everes comyntas Adult   C
Variegated Fritillary   Euptoieta claudia       Adult   3
Pearl Crescent  Phyciodes tharos        Adult   S
Red Admiral     Vanessa atalanta        Adult   2
Common Buckeye  Junonia coenia  Adult   A
Red-spotted Admiral     Limenitis arthemis      Adult   2
Viceroy Limenitis archippus     Adult   2
Monarch Danaus plexippus        Adult   5
Silver-spotted Skipper  Epargyreus clarus       Adult   A
Horace’s Duskywing      Erynnis horatius        Adult   C
Common Checkered-Skipper        Pyrgus communis Adult   C
Least Skipper   Ancyloxypha numitor     Adult   C
Fiery Skipper   Hylephila phyleus       Adult   2
Tawny-edged Skipper     Polites themistocles    Adult   5
Zabulon Skipper Poanes zabulon  Adult   1

This entry was posted in checklists, general butterfly news, Maryland Big Year, state butterflies. Bookmark the permalink.

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