Several of us spent time in Allegany County over the weekend and early week, checking out the mountain ridges and shale barrens for regional specialties. Olympia Marble is flying early this season, beating both Cabbage (Small) Whites and Falcate Orangetips to the early cresses blooming on south-facing slopes. Mourning Cloaks, Commas, and Question Marks were flying in Green Ridge State Forest, as were Sleepy and Dreamy Duskywings, Juvenal’s Duskywing, Silvery Blues, Spring and “spring” Summer Azures, and even an early Zebra Swallowtail.
Monday while exploring in Green Ridge State Forest, I stopped at the pulloff for Billmeyer WMA on Route 40 to check out the mature cedars here for Juniper Hairstreak (unsuccessfully, as it happens). But since it was right there and I wasn’t hiking in, I left my camera and net in the car and was scanning the trees with my bins looking for those dark shark fins at the tips of cedar branches. At the edge of my vision I saw a flash of orange, Comma-sized, and turned just in time to watch a MILBERT’S TORTOISESHELL stop briefly on a wild cherry trunk before diving into the spruces and out of sight. I hung around for an hour or so — with net and camera now, of course — but no repeat sighting.
Only Henry’s Elfin has been reported locally so far; searches in the appropriate habitats for both Eastern Pine and Brown Elfins were unsuccessful. I expect folks will find both in the field on Saturday (but Sunday looks like a complete washout).
Sightings of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, Zebra Swallowtail and various duskywings are coming in from all over VA, so they should be flying here shortly.
In the appropriate habitats, West Virginia White is almost certainly on the wing but has not yet been reported. Ditto for Gray Comma.
There’s a planned expedition on Saturday to Covington VA for a chance at Appalachian Grizzled Skipper. Contact trip organized Mike Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information.
The coming weekend is a mixed bag weather-wise, but if you’re in the field 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.