Lost Colony of Meadow Fritillaries

Meadow Fritillary, Boloria bellona (credit G Lasley)Back in the day, when I was a graduate student in entomology at the University of Maryland in College Park (that was some 30 years ago), a number of us collected Meadow Fritillaries (then Boloria toddi, now Boloria bellona) in the powerline ROW that crosses University Boulevard just west of the main campus.  The woods along Northwest Branch here still have a good amount of violet as larval food plant, and the ROW provides plenty of nectar sources, but the colony seems to be extirpated — or at least, they aren’t flying now, which they should be.

I spent a few hours there yesterday afternoon after watching installation of the new hot water heater (which seemed to have a built-in money meter).  The ROW is especially rich these days, with waist-high grasses obscuring good amounts of red clover in full bloom and the beginning of a good flush of dogbane.  Cabbage Whites were superabundant; there must have been a hundred in sight at any one time.  Zabulon Skippers kept to the shaded areas along the trails.  The first of the season’s Peck’s Skippers were common out in the tall grass, as were Least Skippers (it is a quite wet in places).  Several Variegated Fritillaries had my pulse racing thinking I’d seen a Meadow Frit, but alas, was disappointed each time.  One Red-banded Hairstreak held forth on a dogbane floret.

Not surprisingly, the first Peck’s started showing up in my College Park garden today, as did Spring (Summer) Azure and a Gray Hairstreak.

The full list is below:

Pipevine Swallowtail Battus philenor Adult 1
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Papilio glaucus Adult 2
Cabbage White Pieris rapae Adult Superabundant
Clouded Sulphur Colias philodice Adult Common
Orange Sulphur Colias eurytheme Adult Common
Red-banded Hairstreak Calycopis cecrops Adult 1
Eastern Tailed-Blue Everes comyntas Adult Common
Spring Azure Celastrina ladon Adult 2
Variegated Fritillary Euptoieta claudia Adult 4
Pearl Crescent Phyciodes tharos Adult 1
Eastern Comma Polygonia comma Adult 1
American Lady Vanessa virginiensis Adult 3
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui Adult 1
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta Adult 1
Common Buckeye Junonia coenia Adult 3
Silver-spotted Skipper Epargyreus clarus Adult 2
Least Skipper Ancyloxypha numitor Adult Common
Peck’s Skipper Polites peckius Adult Common
Crossline Skipper Polites origenes Adult 1
Zabulon Skipper Poanes zabulon Adult Common
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