Tom Stock and I headed out to Allegany County today to visit a few sites for “must-have” early spring fliers for the MD100 project. It was a superb day to be butterflying, and both of us boosted our annual total significantly!
A number of small whites are flying in Allegany at this season, most of which are the quite diminutive first spring brood of Cabbage White. The challenge is differentiating these in flight from the past-peak flight of Falcate Orangetips and the always-hoped-for Olympia Marble. We were delighted to see small but stable numbers of Olympia Marbles flying among the other two, but except for the one we photographed the other determinations were made almost all the time in the hand (or in the net, as it were).
Silvery Blue is flying now wherever there are substantial amounts of vetch in bloom, and that includes roadsides of Oldtown-Orleans Road and Piclic Road in Green Ridge State Forest. The azure flight is about over: We had two only Summer Azures during our field work today.
All the expected duskywings are flying, including super-abundant numbers of Juvenal’s Duskywing and smaller numbers of both Dreamy and Sleepy Duskywings. Other skippers that surprised us today were Common Roadside Skipper (always a good find) and Northern Cloudywing (early for this species). We dipped officially on one of the Green Ridge specialties, Cobweb Skipper, despite the fact that other folks had it in abundance were we were just last week.
Most expected swallowtails are out: Eastern Tiger, Spicebush, Pipevine, Zebra, Black. We did not not see Appalachian Tiger but expect it will emerge within the next week or two in Allegany.
Other notable butterflies to round out our 28-species day included Meadow Fritillary, Clouded Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, Henry’s Elfin, and American Copper.
And speaking of copper: At one point scrambling up a shale scree back to the car I was about to grab a root to give me a boost up. Good thing I took a closer look: Not a root but a Copperhead. Handsome snake, but clearly not enjoying my company.
Today added 7 new species to my MD100 count, bringing my total to 36 for the season. Need to clean up all the other early single-brooded species, so the next couple of nice days will see me out trying to secure Frosted Elfin and West Virginia White, among others.