Belated Trip Report from Last Weekend — Indian Springs WMA

'Pocahantas' dark form female Hobomok Skipper in the wet meadow near the Mooresville Rd fishing pond, Indian Springs WMA

‘Pocahantas’ dark form female Hobomok Skipper in the wet meadow near the Mooresville Rd fishing pond, Indian Springs WMA

Beth Johnson, Tom Stock and I spent the last day of May mostly in Washington Co, first looking (successfully) for the reported Harvesters at Indian Springs WMA (minutes from the PA border) and later along various parts of the Sideling Hill Creek watershed.

We were successful in getting at least three (hard to tell, they were coming in and out regularly) Harvesters both puddling and chasing each other in the dense shrubbery. Other highlights there were both Zabulon and Hobomok Skippers (including the dark female form ‘pocahantas’), a dead Indian Skipper mysteriously perched on top of a weed stem (a live one would have been FOY for all of us), and plenty of Least Skippers and Little Wood Satyrs. FOY Red-spotted Purples were puddling with the Harvesters. On the ode side, we had great views of a Gray Petaltail and a spiketail that proved to be a county record for Brown Spiketail. We did not see Hans’ Holbrook’s reported Rusty Snaketail despite diligent searching, alas.

Celebrated the Harvesters with sandwiches and ice cream at the Clear Spring Creamery.

We next hit the Nature Conservancy’s Sideling Creek Hill Preserve on the north side of I-68, a 700-acre relatively new acquisition the almost imperceptible trails of which meander through wet meadow, sedge swamps, and shale hillsides. Best finds there were more Indian Skippers and a Northern Pearly-eye, plus the distractingly abundant Little Wood Satyrs. Hobomok and Zabulon were flying there, too.

We drove back over I-68 and into the Swain Hollow/Hoop Pole Road area; along Hoop Pole Road we encountered a huge stand of Bowman’s Root in bloom on the shoulder of the road (one of the only nectar sources around) acting as a butterfly magnet. Northern Cloudywings were everywhere, along with fading Dreamy Duskywings and tattered Juvenal’s. More Indian Skippers. Best find was Tom’s spot of a Common Road-side Skipper. Black, Eastern Tiger (none displaying any of the Appalachian characteristics), Pipevine, and Spicebush Swallowtails were along the road as well.

Of note, another almost completely azure-less day had it not been for one fresh, high-flying unidentified azure along Pearre Road near the C&O canal. And identifying our ode/lep colleague Rick Cheicante in the parking lot at Pearre Station.

For those seeking the Harvesters at the Mooresville Road fishing pond area of Indian Springs WMA, approach the wet area in the road slowly and carefully from the wooden bridge; they may spook easily unless they are well into imbibing, at which point they become almost catatonic. They are most consistently at the first moist patch, which conveniently sits pretty much underneath a tall alder that presumably produces the aphids for caterpillar food. If you don’t see the Harvesters puddling, look in the tangle of multiflora rose around the trunk of the alder for flashes of orange as they rest and presumably court out of sight. From the reports we’ve had so far, they seem to be most likely to be out and puddling early mid-morning until very early afternoon and take a powder most of the rest of the day.

Tom kept the list of our sightings:

Indian Spring Wildlife Management Area, Washington County, Md.

Zebra Swallowtail (1)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (common)

Spicebush Swallowtail (1)

Harvester (3)

Eastern Tailed Blue (3)

Pearl Crescent (5)

Red Admiral (1)

Red-spotted Purple (3)

Little Wood Satyr (abundant)

Silver-spotted Skipper (7)

Juvenal’s Duskywing (3)

Least Skipper (6)

Hobomok Skipper (8)

Indian Skipper (1) dead

Sideling Hill Creek Nature Conservancy Preserve, Washington County, Md.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (2)

Cabbage White (12)

Orange Sulphur (3)

Eastern Tailed Blue (2)

Northern Pearly Eye (1)

Little Wood Satyr (abundant)

Silver-spotted Skipper (1)

Juvenal’s Duskywing (3)

Dreamy Duskywing (2)

Least Skipper (2)

Indian Skipper (1)

Zabulon Skipper (4)

Hobomok Skipper (common)


Various points in Green Ridge State Forest (primarily along Hoop Pole Road), Allegany County, Md.

Zebra Swallowtail (1)

Pipevine Swallowtail (2)

Black Swallowtail (1)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (2)

Orange Sulphur (1)

Pearl Crescent (3)

Little Wood Satyr (common)

Juvenal’s Duskywing (3)

Dreamy Duskywing (5)

Northern Cloudywing (common)

Indian Skipper (3)

Common Roadside Skipper (1)


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