The perfect lep weather last weekend and early in the week brought in a number of new reports, especially from VA and from the western MD/WV counties.
Of particular interest was an uptick in various skippers, including dozens of Northern Cloudywings in Green Ridge State Forest, where Indian Skipper and the tail end of Dreamy and Juvenal’s Duskywings were also flying. Indian Skipper was seen in a number of other places in Allegany and Washington counties in MD; they’re almost certainly out in the Frederick Watershed Forest. Hoary Edge was on the wing in Green Ridge in surprising numbers, as was Common Road-side Skipper. Farther to the west (Blackwater Falls SP, WV), Pepper and Salt Skippers were out, as they were to the north in Buzzard Swamp PA, where they were characterized as abundant. Peck’s Skipper, Zabulon Skipper, Hobomok Skipper, and Sachem are all to be expected in the appropriate habitats; Zabulon in particular will be haunting almost every sunlight spot at the edge of woodlands throughout the area for the next couple of weeks. The males emerged last week and females emerged over the weekend. The first Crossline, Tawny-edge, and Broken-dash Skippers have appeared locally; their numbers should be up for this weekend. Least Skippers are out; Essex (European) Skipper is flying in WV and probably also in western MD.
Little Wood Satyrs have exploded in every appropriate habitat, and more Northern Pearly-eyes appeared in wet areas over the weekend. Common Ringlets are flying in NJ, PA, and WV. Appalachian Brown should appear this weekend. One report of Viceroy came in this week; more should be reported over the coming weekend to complement the Red-spotted Purples that are being more numerous. Both Emperors – Tawny and Hackberry – are possible in their first brood for the next few weeks; they’re already out and about in VA. Best place to look for both of these hackberry specialists locally is along the C&O Canal.
A few Zebra Swallowtails are still flying, but others are reaching peak flight: Pipevine, Spicebush, and Black Swallowtails among them. Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are winding down; good flights of Appalachian Tiger Swallowtails and intermediates between the two are still going. No local reports of Giant Swallowtail, but they survived the cold winter and are out in good numbers in CT and RI.
The first of the summer brood of both Comma and Question Mark are out. Red Admirals are increasing in numbers but nowhere near irruption status; ditto for American Lady. No reports this week of Painted Lady. American Snout are scarce but out there.
Harvesters continue at Indian Springs WMA near Clear Spring, MD. And the “summer” Summer Azure is beginning to show up across the area.
All across the region, common milkweed and dogbane are approaching bloom; signaling High Hairstreak season – Striped, Banded, Red-banded, Gray, and (one can always hope) Oak and Hickory Hairstreaks are possible wherever various milkweeds bloom in the appropriate habitat mix. I look forward to seeing you in the field checking out the milkweed fields this weekend, which from the long-range forecast looks like another winner. 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.