The warmest temperatures of the season will likely bring out a host of FOY butterflies this weekend, even with some cloudiness and showers. Anyone who can get out Friday may have the most sunshine, but Sunday lepsters will have the higher temps.
Last weekend and the first few days of this week produced a good number of new butterflies in the area, including Zebra Swallowtails in northern VA; and azure spp., Falcate Orangetip, and an unidentified elfin in Prince George’s Co. near the District. Farther south, in Wicomico Co. near Mardela Springs, I had my FOY Brown Elfin on the Tom Tyler Nature Trail in an area that often produces dozens of Brown and Henry’s Elfins later in the season. Cabbage (Small) White was reported in several nearby locations the past few days.
This weekend will likely produce additional elfins throughout the region (Brown, Henry’s, and Eastern Pine; Frosted will be several weeks away when lupine begins to flower – it wasn’t even showing aboveground when I checked on Sunday near Furnacetown MD). Zebra Swallowtail numbers should build in areas with Pawpaw (along the C&O Canal, Governor Bridge Natural Area, Jug Bay/Merkle). We could see our first Eastern Tiger Swallowtail this weekend or during the week next week, in addition to larger numbers of azures. A few more Falcates should be flying this weekend in wooded areas across the region that haven’t been too overbrowsed, and at peak by next weekend given more warm weather. Expect Juvenal’s and Horace’s Duskywings in the next week or two as well, in addition to Colias sulphurs.
I’m headed south to the Great Dismal Swamp on the NC/VA border this weekend as part of an Audubon Naturalist Society field trip focused mainly on birds, but hoping to pick up some of the Swamp specialties – Hessel’s Hairstreak, Lace-winged Roadside-skipper, Creole Pearly-eye, and Gemmed Satyr in particular – if they’re on the wing.
Things are still looking pretty cold and barren in western Maryland this weekend; look for anglewings and Mourning Cloaks, and the occasional errant tortoiseshell. West Virginia Whites are probably at least a week out still, given sufficient warmth, as are most Falcates and Olympia Marble. In Green Ridge State Forest, the west- and south-facing slopes without trees often heat up early, so if it turns out warm and sunny over the weekend one might find early Silvery Blues, elfins, early duskywings (including Dreamy and Sleepy), Cobweb Skipper and Juniper Hairstreaks, but chances are much better the closer we get to May 1.
Enjoy the warm weather and don’t forget to post or send your sightings for the next Weekend Forecast! In the meantime, visit us at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.