Mid-Atlantic Lep Field Forecast for the Weekend of 2014 July 12-13

Pink-edge Sulphur at Spruce Knob WV [2014 July 6, courtesy of Matt Orsie's excellent blog http://wvbirder.org/wvleps/]

Pink-edged Sulphur at Spruce Knob WV [2014 July 6, courtesy of and copyright Matt Orsie’s excellent blog http://wvbirder.org/wvleps/%5D

Hairstreaks continue to dominate what was an otherwise slow long weekend around July 4, with second brood Early Hairstreak along Carolina portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway topping the list. Coral Hairstreaks are also flying; a number were reported by visitors to the Ft. Indiantown Gap Regal Fritillary tours last weekend on the abundant butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), their very favorite nectar source. And second brood Juniper Hairstreaks have been reported at scattered locations around the region. Great Purple Hairstreaks continue to be reported on the Eastern Shore of MD and in DE.

The Northern Metalmarks in Green Ridge State Forest made their appearance over the 4th of July weekend as well, typically basking on the leaves of and feeding on the flowers of woodland sunflower along shale-strewn roadsides above stands of their larval host, round-leaved ragwort (a shale barren specialist). Farther west, in Garrett Co. MD and adjoining WV, Bog Copper is flying where its rather rare host, small cranberry, can be found.

Even farther west and along the Appalachian spine at Spruce Knob, Pink-edged Sulphurs were out in numbers in this traditional go-to location for this restricted species. Here they fly with four fritillary species: Great-spangled, Meadow, Aphrodite, and Atlantis, giving unparalleled opportunities to compare these critters.

On the skipper front, grass skippers have been pretty low most of the summer, and this weekend proved no exception. However, in the Carolinas, Sachem numbers are building rapidly in their second brood, and this could be a harbinger of more Sachems to come here. Dion Skipper was also flying in NC, so should be looked for in its coastal marshy habitats here. The best bet for this uncommon species is to look over any buttonbush in bloom along river and marsh edges.  Both Fiery and Whirlabout Skippers are being seen regularly in the Carolinas and sporadically in VA; Ocola Skipper has also been reported in NC.  A strong southern push like that delivered by Hurricane Arthur could bring some of these southern skippers to the DC area.

This Friday and Saturday are the final days in 2014 for the Ft. Indiantown Gap Regal Fritillary and Grassland Tours, and if you haven’t been it’s a great trip – lots of Regals this year, by all accounts. But this weekend and next week are chock-full of NABA counts, including Reston VA, Richmond VA, Prince George’s Co MD, Bath Co VA, Shenandoah National Park VA, Cape May NJ. If you’re looking two weekends out, include the NABA Count for Heinz NWR PA. Check out the full schedule at LepLog (address below).

On a related note, Harry Pavulaan is looking for sightings from ONLY THE PAST WEEK OR TWO of Little Wood Satyrs in the areas just north, south or west of DC.  Drop him a line at harrypav@hotmail.com or post your sightings to washbutterflies or VA-MD-DE-Bugs.

I’ll be out scouting Garrett Co MD this weekend for an upcoming Audubon Naturalist Society field trip I’m leading the weekend of the 19th; the weather looks marginal out west but good near DC for the first part of the weekend. Maybe we’ll cross paths! If not, please remember 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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