Mid-Atlantic Field Lep Forecast for Weekend of 2014 Sept. 13-14

Leonard's Skipper on blazing star (Liatris) along the Choate Mine Trail at Soldiers Delight, Baltimore Co MD [2014 Sept. 6, photo by Tom Stock]

Leonard’s Skipper on blazing star (Liatris) along the Choate Mine Trail at Soldiers Delight, Baltimore Co MD [2014 Sept. 6, photo by Tom Stock]

Very little new to report this week; mostly continuations of end-of-summer populations that are dwindling and a few late fall specialties.

Leonard’s Skipper is finally on the wing locally, with up to 9 reported at a time last week from Soldiers Delight (Baltimore Co MD). Most of these were along the upper Choate Mine trail. Clouded Skippers were also reported there and from various other locations around the region, mostly associated with garden and other nectar sources. Ocola Skippers, too, are being seen infrequently in scattered locations. These latter two migrants have not yet arrived in large numbers in our area – if they will at all this season.

Monarchs, on the other hand, continue to rise in numbers. Reports from Northeast Coast in NY, MA, and CT all suggest the southward migration has begun in earnest and in good numbers. Several were working the nectar and laying eggs on the milkweed in the Smithsonian’s butterfly walk on the east side of the Natural History Museum this afternoon.

Red-spotted Purples are still out in decent numbers, as are Viceroys. But other nymphalids are in shorter supply. This week saw a couple of Painted Ladies in the area to round out the more common (but nowhere numerous) American Ladies that we’ve been seeing all season. There are fresh Red Admirals about, but again in quite small numbers – the suspicion is that the harsh winter knocked back the southern populations that normally would be our source of fresh broods that hatch and develop locally. Pearl Crescents are in a new brood but generally small numbers; nevertheless they were the most common butterfly at Soldiers Delight this week.

A very few Cloudless Sulphurs have made their way up from the south, but no Little Yellows. And the cold front moving through tonight means we’ll have mostly northerly winds the next few days with little chance of blowing southern specialties northward into our area. Clouded Sulphurs numbers are making a strong final showing, and both Small (Cabbage) Whites and Orange Sulphurs are maxing out in numbers we haven’t seen all summer.

Grass skipper numbers are falling off quickly; large numbers remain only of Zabulon and Sachem, although many of the others – Dun, Swarthy, Crossline, Peck’s, and Southern Broken-dash among them – will likely be around in single digit numbers for another week or two. Saltmarsh Skipper apparently is still pretty common in coastal areas where saltmarsh fleabane is blooming. We’re still awaiting our first report of Long-tailed Skipper locally; it’s been reported in VA and Carolinas already this fall. At their peak at the moment, by contrast, are the final brood of Wild Indigo Duskywing. Silver-spotted Skipper numbers peaked about two weeks ago but are still around in some force.

The last weekly Forecast for 2014 will be next weekend the Autumnal Equinox. After that, I’ll occasionally post to MDLepsOdes only if we have significant sightings.

The weather Saturday does not look promising, but Sunday does. If you make it out into the field this weekend, 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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