Convalescence with Butterflies

Having been put on bed rest for a respiratory infection today and tomorrow, I opted to split the difference and make it “bench” rest — I vegetated the afternoon away on the bench at the Glendening Preserve at Jug Bay in Anne Arundel County.  This great little spot has a number of good hiking trails through varied habitat down to the river, but in my invalid condition I stayed pretty much planted on the bench right next to the butterfly garden with a commanding view of the lantana, verbena, zinnias, and mistflower.

I’d actually scoped the butterfly garden out yesterday on the advice of Danny Bystrak, who called late in the afternoon with the news that he’d seen a Long-tailed Skipper in the garden a few minutes before.  As luck would have it, I was on my way back home on the Beltway from the ER, so I had a choice:  home to bed or off to Jug Bay.  I headed to Jug Bay.

Unfortunately, even though there was still quite a bit of activity when I arrived at 5:30 pm, the Long-tail was a no-show.  So I went back to College Park as the clouds lowered and threatened rain, picked up my Rx, and fell comatose into sleep.  Fast forward 14 hours and I finally woke up again, ravenous but still not up to a workday.  So I headed back down to Jug Bay around 1 to pass the quiet afternoon.

But it was anything but quiet, lep-wise.  First up were the nice sulphurs:  Little Yellow and Sleepy Orange both in good numbers, along with a handful of Orange Sulphurs and Cabbage Whites.  Then a really quite massive Silvery Checkerspot appeared on the mistflower. 

Sachems were everywhere, along with Crossline Skippers, Fiery Skippers, Tawny-edged Skippers, and a few Silver-spotted Skippers.  Least Skippers and a solo Common Checkered Skipper rounded out the list of skippers; I missed seeing the Dun Skipper both Danny and I had seen yesterday.
The clouds were beginning to build in the west again around 4 pm, promising an early end to my convalescence al fresco.  Elaine Friebele, educational coordinator and a colleague from the National Association of Science Writers, came out to check on me and tell me about their upcoming butterfly gardening workshop coming up Sept. 16 (more info at and talk a little about the garden.  Then I spent some time trying to figure out a skipper that gave me a little challenge — a female Fiery, when I have been accustomed to seeing the bright orange males this season:

Just as I was picking up my belongings and the first spatter of rain started to fall, the scene-stealer of the afternoon showed up — a fresh, very active life butterfly for me, Long-tailed Skipper.  It dashed around the zinnias and lantana, mostly, giving good views for about 15 minutes until the rain started in earnest.  Sure beat recovering at home watching soap operas!

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2 Responses to Convalescence with Butterflies

  1. Dave Perry, Jug Bay volunteer says:

    Rick, you need to come back. We have seen a Dainty Sulphur the last two days 9/11 & 9/12 at the garden. Also, seen at the entrance gate to the Plummer House yesterday by Danny B. & today by two others.

    • Rick says:

      What *is* it with Dainty Sulphurs this year? Saw them down at Merkle two weeks ago, after viewing the first local colony reported this flight season from up near Woodstock, MD. They appear to be overspreading from the south and west; if we have another mild winter, I’m guessing some of these colonies will persist next year!

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