The spring flight season is well underway here in the metro area as well as to our west in the Maryland panhandle counties. Expected warm temperatures and sunny skies over the weekend through much of the mid-Atlantic should push along the season even more.
Arguably the best sighting last weekend was Early Hairstreak nectaring at Sugar Hollow near Charlottesville VA. The correspondent who reported it said that Sugar Hollow is good mature beech habitat, exactly where you’d think Early Hairstreak would show up. Runner-up was Appalachian Grizzled Skipper, also in VA (Allegheny Co., where dwarf cinquefoil, the host plant, is in bloom).
Swallowtails are beginning to show up in the area, with strong flights of Zebra Swallowtail already on the wing and early sightings of Eastern Tiger and Black Swallowtails, principally from northern VA.
Harry Pavulaan commented recently on one of the local listservs about the extreme paucity of sulphurs this season so far, something a number of the rest of us have noticed. Other pierids are showing well, however: Falcate Orangetips are at peak (and in some places even a little past) locally. In Allegany Co MD, large numbers of Falcates are flying with Olympia Marbles, which also are enjoying a strong flight in the few areas where they are still likely to be found. Compared with past years, Cabbage White in Allegany Co. has been relatively uncommon – can’t remember a time when I’ve seen more Olympia Marbles than the diminutive spring for Cabbage White (the small size of Cabbage White in the western ridges and mountains reminds me that they aren’t called “Small White” in their native Europe for nothing). I have had exactly one Cabbage White in my yard this spring, which usually is a-flutter with white over my cabbages and Brussels sprouts. Orange Sulphur and Clouded Sulphur numbers are building in the Charlottesville area, so perhaps they’re just late emerging around the Maryland suburbs. West Virginia Whites have begun their flight along Lostland Run in the Potomac State Forest in Garrett Co.
Skippers are breaking out; Juvenal’s Duskywing is flying locally, as well as in the western mountains, where we also had both Dreamy Duskywing and Sleepy Duskywing over the weekend.
Hairstreaks and elfins are on the wing in good variety; fresh Henry’s Elfin and Eastern Pine Elfin were seen by many observers over the weekend, most prominently on the transmission lines near Cash Lake on the grounds of the National Wildlife Visitor Center near Laurel, MD. This location also yielded up a White M Hairstreak recently. Colleagues and I had Gray Hairstreak in Green Ridge State Forest Sunday, along with Eastern Pine Elfin, but dipped on the expected Juniper Hairstreak (which has been reported south of the area in VA and NC but not, to my knowledge, in the metro area yet). It’s almost a certainty that Brown Elfin is flying on the ridgetops in Frederick Municipal Watershed Forest, where we also had dozens of White M’s in their spring brood in 2013. Silvery Blue was flying in both Allegheny Co VA and Allegany Co MD this weekend; the host plant Carolina Vetch is in bloom in VA but not yet in western MD. The current azure flight in most of the area still seems to be all or mostly spring form of Summer Azure, but Harry had Northern Azure (lucia), Spring Azure (ladon), and Summer (neglecta) all flying together this week on Great North Mountain in Frederick Co VA. Spring Azure was also recorded this week in Howard Co MD. Eastern Tailed-blue made its first appearances over the weekend in MD and northern VA.
Mourning Cloaks are looking ragged, but some southern nymphalids are showing up in the area. Both Ladies have been reported as one-offs around the mid-Atlantic, which may represent migrants or may be escapees from science fairs and elementary school rearing projects. Pearl Crescent was flying last weekend in southern VA and the Carolinas, and I expect will be flying here this weekend. American Snout was reported this week from northern VA; this builds on a number of recent reports in southern VA and the Carolinas.
Harvester has been reported in a number of VA and NC/SC locations in the past week, so should be looked for wherever the magical aphid/alder combo shows up.
Here’s hoping to run into in the field this weekend, 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.