Status of Some Rare or Questionable Butterflies in Maryland

There are 30-some species in the Maryland butterfly fauna whose inclusion in the state’s butterfly list is based on very limited or questionable data, or represent species which may be extirpated in the state.  In order to help those of us who regularly go into the field to study butterflies and fill in the gaps for these species, or determine their veracity, Dick Smith has done a tremendous job of pulling together some resources to guide our field work on a good number of these.  Here, in rough phylogenetic order, is a rogue’s gallery of species whose status in Maryland is unknown or where additional data would be very helpful.  Unless otherwise noted, the data (including source of documentation) and comments are Dick’s.  Needless to say, if you have additional data on any of these we’d be grateful if you would share it!

     1.         Great Southern White

9/3/1980, New Bridge (Dorchester Co.), Bill Grooms and John Fales

10/20/1982, Somerset Co. (exact location not given), Bill Grooms and John Fales

5/21/1999, Cove Point (Calvert Co.), Richard Orr

    2.         Southern Dogface

9/8/1960, Liverpool Point (Charles Co.) , Robert Simmons and William Andersen.  This was the first sighting day of an apparent migrating cluster (50+) at this site.  It persisted in this vicinity for over two weeks.  The site was visited for many years after this event, but none were ever seen there again.

9/2/1980, 9/24/1980, 9/8/1982, Dorchester County (exact locations not given), Bill Grooms and John Fales

     3.         Large Orange Sulphur

9/16/1995, Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary (Anne Arundel Co.), Fred Paras

9/25/1995, Tacoma Park (Montgomery Co.), Samuel Pancake

     4.         Pink-edged Sulphur (only one Maryland record)

7/13/1985, Cranesville Swamp  (s. of Muddy Cr. Rd.)(Garrett Co.), Rich Waldrep.

[Tom Stock and I convinced ourselves we had a couple of Pink-edged Sulphurs in Garrett Co. a few years ago, but common sense prevailed and we think these were actually Orange Sulphurs – REB]

     5.         Barred Yellow (only one DC-Maryland area record)

7/24/1935, Soldiers Home Grounds (Washington, DC), Warren Wagner

     6.         Acadian Hairstreak (only one Maryland record)

7/10/1972, University of Maryland Baltimore County (s. edge of campus), Catonsville, Phil Kean

     7.         Hickory Hairstreak

7/10/1958, Grantsville (Garrett Co.), Robert Simmons and William Andersen

7/29/1988, Big Run Rd., Savage River State Forest (Garrett Co.), Dick Smith

?/?1980s, McKee-Beshers WMA (Montgomery Co.), Harry Pavulaan

     8.         Early Hairstreak

4/14/1977, west of Sandy Hook (Washington Co.), Robert Simmons and William Andersen

4/29/1992, Wallman (Garrett Co.), Dick Smith

5/8/1993, e. of Swallow Falls SP (Garrett Co.), Harry Pavulaan

7/21/2001, Garrett County (exact location not given), Fran Pope

     9.         Dusky Azure

4/9/1968, Dr. John Mason; 4/27/1978, William Andersen.  All records in the vicinity of Harpers Ferry and  Shinham Rds intersection (Shinham Rd. is now called Back Rd.), Dargan (Washington Co.).  The Dusky Azure was seen at this site until about 1980.  Shinham Rd. was formerly a dirt public road.  It was paved and widened sometime in the early 1980s, and the project apparently removed some critical stands of Goatsbeard, the butterfly’s larval host plant, as the butterfly was never found again at this site after that modification.

  10.         Little Metalmark (only one Maryland record)

Record from personal communication, John Fales to David Richardson in January 1957 (exact date of record not given), butterflies collected at Fort Washington (Prince Georges Co.).  I consider this record in error or an extreme stray because it is the farthest known northern record and hundreds of miles north of any other record for this species.

  11.         Diana

Record from personal communication, John Fales to Franklin Chermock in March 1951, observed in eastern Garrett County (exact date and location not given)

  12.         Regal Fritillary

The last colony of this species in Maryland occurred in the Fair Hill NRMA (Cecil Co.).  Counts of it were organized through Univ. of DE.  The last record I could find was 6/27/1993.  None have been found at this site since then.

  13.         Tawny Crescent

5/17/1925, 6/16/1929, Cabin John (Montgomery Co.) (these are the only Maryland records), Austin Clark

  14.         Northern Crescent

There are no substantiated records for this species in Maryland. [Dick notes in his Biological Summary and Checklist that Northern Crescent records do exist for PA, WV, and VA – REB]

  15.         Compton Tortoiseshell

There are several single, widely-separated sightings of this species around Maryland.  However, it is mostly known for occurrences in Allegany Co.  My sightings (all Allegany Co.) are as follows:

7/6/1990, Rocky Gap

7/4/1993, intersection of Ridge and Orleans Rds.

4/15/1995, along C&O Canal near Indigo Tunnel, Little Orleans

I have not seen it in Maryland since the last sighting above.

  16.         Milbert’s Tortoiseshell

7/7/1949, Frostburg (Allegany Co.), Franklin Chermock

9/20/2008, Finksburg (Carroll Co.), Fred Paras

The above two are the only Maryland records.

  17.         Gemmed Satyr

Let me quote from a letter I received from Paul Opler on November 4, 1982 regarding Maryland butterfly records.  “Cyllopsis gemma was reliably reported to George Krizek by Hugh Frampton.”  I learned from other Maryland lepidopterists later that the site was in the vicinity of the Romancoke Ferry Dock on southern Kent Island (Queen Annes Co.).  It was observed when the ferry, which received passengers from a dock at Annapolis, was still in operation.  I do not know if specimens were collected, but none exist today.  The first span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge opened in 1952, and ferry operations ceased at that time, so the above sighting was prior to 1952.  I am suspicious of the sighting, since the species has never been reported from anywhere else in Maryland.  Some MES members think they may have been poorly-marked Little Wood-satyrs, since this latter species does have silvery hindwing markings.

  18.         Mitchell’s Satyr

Here is a key quote from the same letter as above from Paul Opler: “Neonympha mitchellii was reported by Clay Gifford to have been found in a bog or marsh across from the old railroad station on Fort Meade during World War II.  The specimens were since destroyed.”  A fancier at my office of old railroads once found a map of the railroad system in the Fort Meade area in the 1930s-1940s era.  The Fort Meade RR station on this map was alongside the current Midway Branch a few hundred yards north of the current Rte. 32.  I visited the site sometime in the 1990s and found that that part of Midway Branch was now a cement-lined waterway.  However, Midway Branch flows under and south of Rte. 32, passes through some marshy wetlands, and then eventually empties into Lake Allen on the current Patuxent Refuge North Tract.  I have inspected this area on several occasions for Satyrids, but the only marsh species I ever found was Appalachian Brown.

  19.         Dorantes Longtail (only one Maryland record)

9/19/2003, Dunkirk (Calvert Co.), Arlene Ripley.  This specimen was seen the day after Hurricane Isabel, whose path included the Bahamas, swept up the Chesapeake Bay into Maryland.  Unusual tropical butterfly records often occur in Florida after hurricanes, so it is probable that this Maryland record was carried in by the above hurricane.

  20.         Golden-banded Skipper

This species was known to occur at Great Falls (Montgomery Co.) in the vicinity of the C&O canal between Cropley and the Great Falls Park office during late May-early June and again in mid-July.  It was first discovered there by Austin Clark in the 1930s.  The last records I could find were by John Fales, Bill Grooms, and William Andersen in the 1982 season.  The species has never been seen there again since this time.  A suspect in the disappearance of this species at Great Falls was the application of gypsy moth spraying in the late 1980s.

  21.         Confused Cloudywing

There is the following account for this species in the Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, Vol 36, Nos. 8,9, Nov.-Dec., 1934, p. 263: ”Mr. Austin H. Clark noted the following recent additions to the butterflies known from the District of Columbia and vicinity …  He called attention to the fact that Thorybes confusis Bell was inadvertently omitted from his list of the butterflies of this region, although it has been recorded from Washington, Takoma Park, Md., and from along the canal in Maryland.”  Also, the following account from the same proceedings, Vol. 37, No. 8, Nov. 1935, p. 169: “Mr. Austin H. Clark recorded the capture by Mr. W. Herbert Wagner of the following previously unrecorded butterflies in the District of Columbia and vicinity during the season:…  Thorybes confusis, inadvertently omitted from the list of District butterflies, was rather common at Difficult Run [Fairfax Co., VA] from June 16 to July 7. (Author’s abstract.)”  (By the way, I’ve visited the Difficult Run area (between Rte 193 and the Potomac River) on several occasions in the 1990s and have never found Confused Cloudywing there.)  I have never heard of any records, later than the above account, of Confused Cloudywing in the C&O Canal area.

There are several later old records of this species elsewhere in Maryland (by Fales, Andersen, Simmons).  However, as I have found and the common name implies, the proper identification of this species has been confused in the past with first brood Southern Cloudywings.  The key to properly separating these was published in The International Lepidoptera Survey Newsletter Volume 3:1 September 2001, pp. 1-2. “Thorybes clarification” by Ron Gatrelle.  I have only had the opportunity to inspect the William Andersen collection.  Using Gatrelle’s  key, the only valid Maryland specimen of Confused Cloudywing I could find in this collection was from Hereford (Baltimore County) with date 5/25/1952.

22.         Mottled Duskywing

This species was found in several barrens areas around Maryland prior to the 1990s where New Jersey Tea, its larval host plant, also occurred.  Unfortunately, the flowers of this low-growing shrub are a favorite of deer, and most concentrations of it in Maryland have been eliminated due to deer browse.  The butterfly quickly disappeared from these areas too.  New Jersey Tea once grew thickly along several roadsides in Green Ridge State Forest (Allegany Co.) shale barrens.  Hoopole Rd. was one such area, but only a few isolated plants exist in this location at present.  In spite of many repeated searches, the last sighting of Mottled Duskywing in Maryland was from this location on May 14, 1990 by Phil Kean and Bob Gardner.

  23.         Zarucco Duskywing

The Maryland state record for this species is dated 9/11/1958, Turner (apparently in vicinity of current Oraville) (St. Mary’s Co.), Robert Simmons and William Andersen.  The identification for this specimen was later verified by Dr. John Burns at the Smithsonian.  Several old records exist for this species in Maryland, mainly in Southern Maryland in late summer, but many are unreliable due to the easy confusion of this species with Wild Indigo and Horace’s Duskwings.  I have not heard of any reliable records of this species in Maryland for over 25 years.

  24.         Persius Duskywing (only one Maryland record)

5/12/1955, Flintstone (Allegany Co.), William Andersen

  25.         Appalachian Grizzled Skipper

This species was frequent at many locations in Green Ridge State Forest and Flintstone (Allegany Co.) through the 1980s, the butterfly’s occurrence quickly dwindled there after the start of gypsy moth spraying there.  It has not been known from any other location in the state for the past 40 years.  Several references, published years after the start of the spray program at Green Ridge, note the butterfly larvae’s strong sensitivity to this.  The last known sighting was in Green Ridge on 5/4/2000 by Robert Dirig.

  26.         Dotted Skipper (only one Maryland record)

8/23/1973, Liverpool Point (Charles Co.), Dr. John Mason

  27.         Whirlabout

8/29/1979, St. Mary’s County (exact location not given), Bill Grooms

11/9/1984, Annapolis area (Anne Arundel Co.), Bill Grooms

9/1/2000, National Arboretum (Washington, DC), Richard Orr

  28.         Palatka Skipper (only one Maryland record)

8/7/1980, Bucktown (Dorchester Co.), Bill Grooms

I consider this record in error or an extreme stray because it is the farthest known northern record and several hundred miles north of any other record (Norfolk, VA area) for this species.

  29.         Eufala Skipper

8/23/1973, Liverpool Point (Charles Co.), Dr. John Mason

9/7/1991, Point Lookout (St. Mary’s Co.), Rich Waldrep.  This species was locally common at Point Lookout from early Sept. to early Oct. in 1991.  It has not been recorded at this location since then.

10/17/1998, Silver Spring (Montgomery Co.), Tom Stock

  30.         Two-spotted Skipper

This skipper was occasional in Garrett County swamps through the 1980s.  My last record was 6/19/1985, Wolf Swamp (Garrett Co.).  It has not been found at this location since then.  The last Maryland record was at a swamp near Avilton (Garrett Co.) in 2001.  Possibly extirpated now in Maryland due to boreal marsh vegetation changes from global warming.

  31.         Twin-spot Skipper

8/23/1979, Seneca (Montgomery Co.), Bill Grooms

8/31/1979, Worcester County (exact location not given), Bill Grooms

(These are the only two Maryland records.)

  32.         Brazilian Skipper

8/9/1911, A. B. Duckett; 9/16/1912 F.H. Chittenden, both in Washington, DC (both records from Clark, Austin H., 1932, “The Butterflies of the District of Columbia and Vicinity.” U.S. National Museum Bulletin No. 157. 337pp)

Prior to 1950, Druid Hill Park (Baltimore City), Franklin Chermock

9/5/2004, Andersontown (Caroline Co.), Harry Pavulaan

Okay, colleagues — Let’s hit the field this summer and figure out if some of these presumed extirpated species are still extant in the state, or find more records of accidentals and strays to round out the picture of their occurrence in Maryland!

This entry was posted in checklists, conservation, endangered species, sightings, state butterflies. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Status of Some Rare or Questionable Butterflies in Maryland

  1. Rick says:

    Dick noted today on the washbutterflies listserv:

    Thank you for stressing to me that there is increased interest in this sort of detailed historical data (on occurrences of seldom-seen or very possibly extirpated butterflies in the Maryland area) and for encouraging me to pull it together and putting it in print so that everyone knows the basis for the status designations assigned in my on-line checklists on these species.

    If anyone knows of additional occurrences in cases where I have commented (in the material in the website below) that “no more records exist” or that the species is probably extirpated , by all means please allow me Richard.Smith@jhuapl.edu or Rick rborchelt@gmail.com to know about it and/or report your information as soon as possible to the Maryland Natural Heritage Program whose staff are dedicated to tracking and conserving these butterfly species as well as a raft of other listed scarce and disappearing wildlife. The person to contact at the Maryland Natural Heritage Program is Jennifer Frye, Invertebrate Ecologist, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Office Ph: 410-827-8612 x102, E-mail: jfrye@dnr.state.md.us . Thank you much.

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