Lep Forecast for Autumnal Equinox Weekend 2013

Sleepy Orange caterpillar on senna at Plummer House butterfly garden.  Photo by Beth Johnson.

Sleepy Orange caterpillar on senna at Plummer House butterfly garden. Photo by Beth Johnson.

The dry week has had an impact on nectar availability and quality, and scattered showers predicted for the weekend could put a damper on field activities, but it still should be a good weekend to catch some of the late-emerging or lingering butterflies still on the wing.

The most recent report from Soldiers Delight was for a three-hour unsuccessful search for Leonard’s Skipper on an otherwise good field day; lots of American Coppers and some grass skippers.  If you go in search of the Leonard’s, remember that the Choate Mine Trail typically has the most sightings.

After winging my way back from Colorado Saturday, if Sunday turns out to be a nice day at all I may hustle over to the Eastern Shore for the Bronze Copper (miracle of miracles) reported this week near Pocomoke City.  Palamedes Swallowtail is at the tail end of its flight there as well, with two reported from this area.  Other swallowtails are in steep decline for the fall; Black Swallowtail caterpillars were in such abundance at the Plummer House butterfly garden at the Glendening Preserve in Anne Arundel Co last weekend that they’d stripped all their host plants of leaves.  Luckily, most appeared to be final instars and ready for pupation.  Sleepy Oranges were common in the garden, both as adults and as late-instar caterpillars on the senna.

Two hours spent at the National Arboretum last week netted (pun intended) only one Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a dark-form female, rather than the swarms of just a few weeks ago.  Sleepy Oranges and Cloudless Sulphurs were common, however, as were Sachems and Peck’s Skippers.

Many fresh anglewings and relatives this week; both Eastern Comma and Question Mark are being reported on fallen fruit (and Comma was nectaring avidly at Glendening); fresh Red Admirals are on the wing and these have been pretty scarce during the early season.  A final brood of Red-spotted Purples is also flying; all four of these can often be seen at once – sometimes on the same fruit! — on windfall apples or pears in old orchards.

Lycaenids are harder to come by now, with a few Red-banded Hairstreaks, Gray Hairstreaks, and a White M reported regionally.  But the folks at the Museum of Life and Science in Raleigh report that their final brood of Harvester just emerged this week; look for it if you find clusters of woolly aphids on alder.

The late-summer clouds of Common Buckeyes we often see this time of year have not materialized yet, but then they often fly well into October and even November.  Monarchs are beginning to drift south, and early reports from the northern tier of states suggest that they had a good late season in southern Canada and the Northeast.

In the canebrake habitats to our south, Yehl Skipper apparently is having a tremendous late flight, as are Lace-winged Roadside Skippers.  Check them out if you have a late-season trip to the Outer Banks.  You might even find Little Yellows, which have not appeared in the mid-Atlantic in 2013.


Be sure to let me know what you’re seeing in the field this weekend so I can share it with other readers of the Forecast.  Follow mid-Atlantic butterfly sightings at https://leplog.wordpress.com and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

This entry was posted in Field Trips/Annual Counts, general butterfly news, sightings. Bookmark the permalink.

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