Steamy Suitland Bog

After spending a couple of hours on work-related stuff for NCI, then hassling over purchase and installation of a new hot water heater (these things ALWAYS break down on a holiday weekend), I headed off to Suitland Bog near Andrews Air Force Base for  what I thought would be an hour or so before the storms rolled in.  I arrived in hot, steamy sunshine about 3 pm and to my surprise it stayed mostly sunny and muggy until I fininshed up around 6 pm.

Suitland Bog is one of the few remaining metro-area examples of a magnolia bog — the dominant tree here is sweet bay magnolia in the little more than an acre than comprises the bog proper.  It was in bloom now, as were hundreds of pitcher plants and a small pink orchid (probably rose pogonia; haven’t keyed it out yet).

The entrance road and all the woodland edges were practically swarming with newly emerged Zabulon Skippers, all but one of the several dozen I saw were males.  Also quite abundant were Azures (which I presume are Summer (Spring) Azures); I watched several ovipositing on one the unopened florets of one of the viburnums in the bog. (probably Viburnum nudum, see comment)

Viburnum host for Azures in Suitland Bog

In the large open wet meadow before you get to the bog, a number of Crossline Skippers were working the white clover, and Little Wood Satyrs and Least Skippers bobbed about in the grasses (and woodlands, in the case of the satyrs).  In the bog itself, the best find was a little mob of Little Glassywings, also looking freshly emerged.

I walk a couple hundred yards through the woods at the edge of the bog to the powerline ROW, also quite marshy with dogbane just beginning to come into bloom and a dainty recumbent bramble all over the place.  There were a couple of good FOY (for Maryland) butterflies for me, including Gray Hairstreak, Red-banded Hairstreak, and Variegated Fritillary.  But the most surprising (to me) was a very late and remarkably well preserved EASTERN PINE ELFIN under the couple of pines at the end of the ROW.

Suitland Bog promises to be full of surprises during the coming season; look for a LepTrek here later in the summer.

Here’s the full BIS report:

==| Field Trip |==-

Date: 05/27/2011
Number of Species: 20
Number of Individuals: 199
Suitland Bog
MD , USA   20740
Notes: Warm, near 90.  In the field from 3 pm – 6 pm, mostly sunny with occasional clouds.  Still or light breeze.  Explored the entrance road and field, bog boardwalk, and adjacent powerline ROW.  Dogbane just coming into bloom in the open areas; lespedeza, red and white clovers, and fleabane also in bloom.  In the bog few traditional nectar sources were available.  Viburnums just breaking bud; kalmia and sweet bay in bloom.

Common Name    Scientific Name Life Stage      Number Seen     Notes
Pipevine Swallowtail    Battus philenor Adult   1
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail       Papilio glaucus Adult   2
Cabbage White   Pieris rapae    Adult   Common
Clouded Sulphur Colias philodice        Adult   5
EASTERN PINE ELFIN      Callophrys niphon       Adult   1
Gray Hairstreak Strymon melinus Adult   1
Red-banded Hairstreak   Calycopis cecrops       Adult   3
Eastern Tailed-Blue     Everes comyntas Adult   3
‘Summer’ Spring Azure   Celastrina ladon neglecta       Adult   A
Variegated Fritillary   Euptoieta claudia       Adult   3
Eastern Comma   Polygonia comma Adult   1
Red Admiral     Vanessa atalanta        Adult   1
Common Buckeye  Junonia coenia  Adult   1
Red-spotted Purple      Limenitis arthemis astyanax     Adult   1
Little Wood-Satyr       Megisto cymela (includes viola) Adult   Abundant
Silver-spotted Skipper  Epargyreus clarus       Adult   3
Least Skipper   Ancyloxypha numitor     Adult   Common
Crossline Skipper       Polites origenes        Adult   4       mostly on clover in the field
Little Glassywing       Pompeius verna  Adult   4       most of them in the bog proper
Zabulon Skipper Poanes zabulon  Adult   Common      all but one were males

Also three large black unidentified swallowtails flying to fast for ID.

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One Response to Steamy Suitland Bog

  1. Rick says:

    Believe the viburnum in question is Viburnum nudum, possumhaw or swamp viburnum. The azures were favoring it for oviposition rather than the arrowwood viburnum standing next to it at approximately the same stage of bloom.

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