Mid-Atlantic Weekend Lep Field Forecast for 2014 June 14-15

Hoary Edge on Hoop Pole Road in Green Ridge State Forest, Allegany Co MD.  Photo by Tom Stock.

Hoary Edge on Hoop Pole Road in Green Ridge State Forest, Allegany Co MD. Photo by Tom Stock.

I’ve heard from a number of contributors this week that the torrential rains in PG county on Wednesday seriously knocked the wind out of whatever was flying up until then, especially the Little Wood Satyrs. This is the hazard of being a butterfly in the mid-Atlantic when heavy storms blow up on the Piedmont. As I write this on Thursday night, Green Ridge and the western counties are being hammered with up to five inches of rain, and our Harvester location – Clear Spring, MD – saw a number of water rescues tonight from flash floods and pooling water. Luckily, it looks like things will dry out – both in precipitation and humidity – for the weekend, giving us another two great field days.

This past weekend and week gave us a number of new sightings and FOYs locally, starting with Hoary Edge in Green Ridge State Forest. It’s been a slow start for Silver-spotted Skippers so far this season, but numbers are beginning to build.

New satyrids out include Northern Pearly-eye in several locations in VA and MD, and Appalachian Brown on the MD Eastern Shore during the Andelot Farms bioblitz (which to my shame I bailed on to go chase the Hoary Edges at the other end of the state). On the typical nymphalid side, there are still no Viceroy sightings, but I’m expecting them this weekend. Great Spangled Fritillary has begun flying (several sightings across the area), and Silvery Checkerspot looks to have another very good year. Pearl Crescents are out but in smaller than normal numbers most everywhere. FOY Baltimore Checkerspots were recorded in Frederick Co., MD. Hackberry Emperor is out (and no doubt so is Tawny Emperor, although there have been no reports yet). Chatting up your local farmers’ market vendors for rotting or damaged fruit you can put out for butterflies could net you emperor, Red-spotted Purple, Viceroy, Red Admiral, satyrs, and any fresh anglewings that have not yet aestivated for the heat of the summer. Monarch sightings are regular but infrequent across the region.

Remaining duskywings at this point are likely Horace’s or Wild Indigo, both of which were seen this past week. The early heavy Northern Cloudywing flight is dwindling. Grass skippers are out in good numbers for the species you’d expect so far, and Fiery Skipper has already made it up past Raleigh this season. Indian Skippers are now being reported as local but common where they are found; this is a also very good year for Hobomok Skippers. While there are no local reports, Pepper and Salt Skippers apparently are enjoying a gangbuster flight elsewhere; at Buzzard Swamp PA there were “hundreds” last week (Common Ringlets are at peak there, too, and Arctic Skippers were flying).

The first Banded Hairstreaks were observed this week in College Park and a couple of other places; Striped is probably out now as well with Coral soon if not already. Check every milkweed, butterflyweed or dogbane patch.

No southern irruptives to speak of yet. As with last year, no Little Yellows, and so far no Sleepy Oranges or Cloudless Sulphur either. Cabbage White and Clouded and Orange Sulphur numbers are well below average still, and this is at least the second generation of Cabbage White. No reports yet of Checkered White, although it too could be flying in waste areas on the Eastern Shore, its favored habitat. And no big flights of Vanessas or American Snout, but a few Buckeyes are flying in NC and VA.

I’m hoping to make it back out to Green Ridge (looking for Giant Swallowtail) and possibly Charles Co. (checking in on the Carolina Satyrs and that huge dogbane field at Friendship Farm) this weekend, so look for me in the field. 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.

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2 Responses to Mid-Atlantic Weekend Lep Field Forecast for 2014 June 14-15

  1. Jeff Shenot says:

    Hi Rick – wanted to mention this to someone who knows butterflies.

    On Sat (June 14) while checking out the newly designated Cunningham Swamp WMA in Garrett County, I was surprised to see a fos MONARCH Butterfly flying east along the southernmost meadow there. This site was purchased with Program Open Space funds in 2013, and is managed by MD DNR now. The Monarch did not stop, and I was unable to get a photo. This meadow has a lot of milkweed (especially in the western part of the southern-most meadow), and I looked for monarch caterpillars and other adult individuals but did not see any. It will be interesting to see what the monarch flight is like this year, it may be pretty bleak again. Do you have any insight on them?

    Also, saw a fos Viceroy on June 15 at reclamation site meadow on Old Legislative Rd in AL County.


  2. Rick says:

    Thanks for posting, Jeff! Beth Johnson and I checked out Cunningham a few weeks ago and were pretty disappointed in lep diversity; we didn’t see Monarch there/then but it has been reported widely across MD, WV and PA since. Better flight than last year, it appears, but not a heavy one.

    Yours is the first Viceroy report in the area, I’ve since gotten two more so it appears they popped this week.

    I expect to be headed out toward Allegany and Garrett again soon; I’m leading a butterfly foray for the Audubon Naturalist Society there in mid-July so I need to do a couple of scouting trips. Might check out Cunningham again to see if the situation has changed any…

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