The incredible explosion of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails seems to be winding down, with most of the individuals flying now showing considerable wear and tear. Still, there were still relatively huge numbers at the National Arboretum and elsewhere this week, especially as compared with the paltry spring flight we experienced in the mid-Atlantic. Zebra Swallowtails are wrapping up too, although the emergence seems a little more extended and a very fresh male zipped through the Arboretum’s butterfly garden on Monday.
Red-banded Hairstreak activity has really picked up this week, both locally and up throughout the Northeast. We were hard-pressed to find this species in its first flight this season; at least five were nectaring in the butterfly garden and on the Clethra blooming along the road to Fern Valley at the Arboretum. Other local sightings include five at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve north of Philadelphia, Cecil Co. MD, and multiples in Columbia MD. Juniper (Olive) Hairstreak is also having a substantial second flight, especially in the Northeast, although they have been reported in the mid-Atlantic as well. Smaller numbers of Gray Hairstreaks are also making an appearance in the area. Giant Swallowtails continue in almost epidemic numbers in the Northeast states into Vermont; I have not yet had any reported sightings of the second brood here in Maryland, and only a handful of the spring brood.
NABAchat has been wall to wall chatter about how late and how small the Monarch flight is this year, especially in the Midwest. Closer to home, while the numbers are still not high, ovipositing females have been seen in at least 11 MD counties in recent weeks, with a dozen or more still in the milkweed field across from the temporary visitor center at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Still MIA are other migrants like Painted Lady and Little Yellow. However, Little Yellow numbers have been picking up in the Carolinas so there is hope for a late fall flight in the DC area.
Hackberry feeders seem to be thriving, with multiple reports in the area of American Snout (appearing to be home-grown and fresh rather than migrant). Hackberry Emperors were abundant on the Bennett Creek bridge over Mt. Ephraim Road near Sugarloaf Mountain.
Female Zabulon Skippers emerged this week (males were out last week) and seem to be in every sunlit wooded path in the area. Peck’s and Crossline Skippers are common in most of their likely spots (check out ironweed, Joe-Pye weed, and various sunflowers), as are Silver-spotted Skippers (ubiquitous). Sachem numbers are already declining, marking a pretty skimpy fall flight (as compared with last summer’s near-irruption late-summer brood). At Behnke’s Nursery in Beltsville, MD, a Northern Broken-dash was visiting the pots of lantana. Hoary Skippers are still flying in the Carolinas, suggesting they may still be on the wing in western MD. Clouded Skipper numbers are increasing in the Carolinas, but overall the butterfly action reported by vacationers to the Outer Banks and environs was pretty meager. This does not augur well for a major northward migration push into our area this fall, nor are any major weather systems on the map that could pull southern species up our way anytime soon.
OF NOTE: AUG 17 [NABA Count] DC: US National Arboretum. Meet at 9:00 a.m. in the parking lot of the Arboretum Visitor Center near the R Street entrance. As one enters from R Street, the lot is to the left. Based on the number of participants, we may carpool from there to other locations. Count will end at 4 p.m. at the latest to allow for a “Tally Rally” to compile a list of our sightings, the location of which will be determined the day of the count. We will either rally on the Arboretum grounds or go off the grounds to a local restaurant. CONTACT: Tom Stock, at altomomatic |AT| Verizon |DOT| net.
ALSO NOTE: There will be no Forecast next week as I will be off the grid butterflying and birding in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Look for the next Forecast for Labor Day Weekend.
Follow mid-Atlantic butterfly sightings at https://leplog.wordpress.com and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.