Many nectar sources are in full bloom just now, including such perennial butterfly favorites as buttonbush, pickerel weed, and various milkweeds. The milkweeds have been hosting swarms of fresh Variegated Fritillaries and good numbers of fresh Common Buckeyes on the lower Eastern Shore, where practically every stand of common milkweed had a contingent of Orange Sulphurs, Cabbage (Small) Whites and Silver-spotted Skippers in addition to the Fritillaries and Buckeyes.
Elsewhere, milkweeds have been attracting a diversity of hairstreaks, including an astounding 972 Banded Hairstreaks and 382 Hickory Hairstreaks on one small patch of dogbane at Whittingham Wildlife Management Area in northern NJ! Oak Hairstreak, Coral Hairstreak, and of course Striped Hairstreak were all found in the same general vicinity last week. Edwards Hairstreak emerged in numbers this week, seen especially in the Frederick Municipal Watershed Forest.
Skippers, by contrast, were less easy to come by this past week. Common Checkered-skipper, which has been hard to come by this season, was spotted in fresh condition in central MD this week. A very worn Aaron’s Skipper populated the buttonbush along Newbridge Road in Dorchester Co, MD, in the company of Broad-winged Skippers. Broad-wings were also abundant at Eastern Neck NWR, where the dozen or more large buttonbush in the Bayview Butterfly Garden hosted Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red Admiral, Viceroy, Monarch, Cabbage White, Orange Sulphur, and distractingly abundant Zebra Swallowtails – but NONE of the grass skipper abundance of just a week previously. Horace’s Duskywing is on the wing in its second brood now, and being the only duskywing with an apical cell spot (the other common spreadwing out now, Wild Indigo, lacks the spot) is much easier to ID without having to closely examine the ventral aspect. It’s looking to be a good year for Ocola Skipper, which is already appearing as far north as the Raleigh NC area.
Harvesters are clearly having a good year too, with multiples reported across the region. Baltimore Checkerspots are also out in good numbers.
The first regional Cloudless Sulphur showed up in Baltimore, and a few were beginning to show up at in VA and the Carolinas. Pink-edged Sulphur is flying in the higher-elevation bogs of WV and should be looked for in western MD, where it occurred historically but has been MIA in recent times. Bog Copper is likely flying there too, as both Aphrodite and Atlantis Fritillaries should be.
A couple of butterflies dropped off the radar screen this week, including Red-spotted Purple, American Lady, and Silvery Checkerspot. Both will return in subsequent broods later this summer. Comma, Question Mark and Mourning Cloak are likely to be around only in small numbers until fall; they’re mostly aestivating during the hottest weather.
The weekend weather has already claimed one casualty – the western Montgomery Co MD count has been rescheduled for July 3.
If you do brave the rain 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