We’ve been struggling to catch up to normal emergence dates for most of our butterflies this summer, and the recent rains and heat wave have helped tremendously. Last weekend and this week saw an impressive number of FOYs and emergence of second broods of many of our stalwarts.
2014 may well be remembered as the Year of the Harvester; which was reported from new locations this week in Finzel Swamp and in Howard Co near Marriottsville.
Satyrium hairstreaks continue to impress, with Coral Hairstreak flying with Banded Hairstreaks in the fields along Northeast Branch Trail in College Park. Gray and Red-banded Hairstreaks are also flying, but not in large numbers (this is a repeat of low numbers last year for Red-banded). No Striped Hairstreaks have been reported yet, nor have Edwards’ or King Hairstreaks.
Several FOY skippers showed up this week, including Dion Skipper in Charles Co. MD, and Saltmarsh, Broad-winged, Delaware, and Aaron’s Skippers in Kent Co. MD. Rare Skipper and Mulberry Wing should also be abroad in their restricted habitats. Duskywing numbers dropped to almost nil, but should pick up shortly with summer Horace’s and second generation Wild Indigo. European (Essex) Skipper is flying, as are the panoply of other grass skippers: Southern and Northern Broken-dash, Crossline, Dun, and Swarthy Skippers, plus Little Glassywing. Look for all of them on common milkweed.
All the common swallowtails — Black, Spicebush, Eastern Tiger, Zebra — are now in their second broods, which is especially noticeable in the long tails of Zebras. I have yet to see my 2014 Giant Swallowtail but they have been reported along the Potomac drainage in Allegany Co.Both emperors — Hackberry and Tawny — are out now.
If you’re seeing azures from here on out, chances are 99 percent or better that they’re Summer Azure, which arecurrently flying and ovipositing on various flower buds like viburnum.
Little Wood Satyrs are everywhere this season, but we have not yet had reports of Common Wood Nymph but should this week.
Also AWOL so far are Cloudless Sulphurs, Sleepy Oranges, and Little Yellows. This marks the second Little Yellow-less season in a row.
And while they aren’t butterflies, you might find it interesting to check out yucca blooms right now to see Yucca Moths, which many of us studied in school for their life cycle, which is tied up entirely in the yucca bloom cycle. Females lay their eggs on the ovaries of yucca flowers, where the caterpillars eat the developing seeds, but never all of them. You can find the adults quite easily just now by carefully pulling open the fresh flowers; the small snow-white females hide up near the inside base.
Field trip suggestion: The Bayview Butterfly Garden and Trial at Eastern Neck NWR in Kent Co MD is in peak form right now, with a row of about a dozen buttonbush in full bloom, along with blooming pickerel weed, Culver root, and coreopsis to complement the dogbane and common milkweed in the surrounding meadows. Aaron’s, Delaware, Broad-winged and Saltmarsh Skippers were all flying there today, as well as clouds of Zebra Swallowtails, some Snouts, and very fresh Tawny Emperor. Worth a trip. And if you drive out by way of Route 301, check out the extensive dogbane and milkweed to the right side of the road in the three miles or so before the rest stop.
Heading up to Buzzard Swamp PA with Tom Stock this weekend and hoping to run into some of our good PALepsOdes friends there for norther specialties like Arctic Skipper, Harris’ Checkerspot, Common Ringlet, and Green Comma. Weather there for the weekend looks a little better than it does for the metro region, but Sunday should provide an opportunity to dry out and see some new leps. 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.