Mid-Atlantic Weekend Lep Field Forecast for 2015 July 18-19

Matt Orsie snapped this great pic of a Broad-winged Skipper ovipositing on phragmites (the host plant) in Delaware last week.

Matt Orsie snapped this great pic of a battered Broad-winged Skipper ovipositing on phragmites (their host plant) in Delaware last week.

It’s certainly been rainy enough lately to suit most anyone, but that hasn’t put an end to the drought of traditional grass skippers.  This is one of the poorest summers on record so far for the grass skippers that typically are all over nectar sources this time of year:  Crossline, Little Glassywing, Dun, Tawny-edge, and others.  While all have been seen, they’ve been in (comparatively) small numbers.  Reports over the past two weeks have not proved otherwise, even though Sachem numbers seem finally to be building (and in the Raleigh area are exploding).  With Joe-pye Weed and New York Ironweed flowers coming on, this should be apex of summer skipper season.

There is a fresh brood of Silver-spotted Skippers out, as well as fresh Horace’s Duskywing and fresh Wild Indigo Duskywing.  Dion Skipper is in a new flight on the Eastern Shore, and it’s likely some of the other coastal or marshland skippers are too.  Hayhurst’s Scallopwing finally made an appearance at its traditional location in the butterfly garden at the US National Arboretum, and Common Checkered-skipper — notoriously hard to find this season — was reported from a handful of locations.  Somewhat better news may be in the offing for migrant skippers:  both Fiery and Ocola Skippers are showing up early and in numbers in central and northern North Carolina, perhaps auguring well for these southern specialties farther north in our area.  A location in southwest NJ reported a ripping 43 Rare Skippers last week, along with two Aaron’s Skippers and a couple dozen Broad-winged SkippersDelaware Skipper was reported from several widely scattered locales across the mid-Atlantic.  Long Dash is in flight, and Northern Broken-dash continues to be reported mostly as singletons across the region.

Like last year, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails seem to have rebounded somewhat from a poor showing in the spring brood; there seems to be a good percentage of dark-form females in this flight.  The Zebra Swallowtail second flight is beginning to look quite tattered.  Spicebush and Pipevine Swallowtails are flying in their summer generation.  Giant Swallowtail has not yet been reported in the area.

Modest numbers of Clouded and Orange Sulphurs are flying; Cabbage (Small) White numbers are up considerably over earlier broods.  Checkered White has been mostly AWOL save for one central MD sighting on agricultural lands.

Common Wood Nymph has been seen regularly the past two weeks.  We’re between brood peaks of Little Wood Satyr, but Northern Pearly-eye is enjoying a strong flight.  Appalachian Browns have been reported rather sparingly.

Of the fritillaries, all the expected species were reported this week in the region:  Atlantis, Aphrodite, Meadow, Variegated, and Great Spangled.  Participants in this year’s open house at Ft. Indiantown Gap PA were treated to good numbers of Regal Fritillaries as well.  Other nymphalids also are in flight:  Red Admiral in good numbers, Buckeyes in small numbers.  Such ladies as have been seen are American; Painted Ladies have been quite rare.  Snout is being seen but not in any numbers to speak of.  And while they are still quite the rarity in the mid-Atlantic, if we’re going to see Compton’s Tortoiseshell now is the time to be looking; they have been spotted in a number of PA and NY locations recentlyl.

Hairstreaks and blues are still out in some force, with Striped and Banded Hairstreaks showing well still, and Coral Hairstreak reported at Ft Indiantown Gap and from a few other locales.  Gray and Red-banded were reported widely.  Summer Azure and Eastern Tailed-blues are common just now.  King’s Hairstreak was finally seen on the MD Eastern Shore last week.  Quite likely the new brood of Juniper Hairstreak will emerge any day now.

The Western Montgomery County (MD) annual count was rescheduled and will now be held on Tuesday, July 21.  The Audubon Naturalist Society/USA Graduate School collaboration for the Natural History Field Studies sequence hosts a 5-week course, “Butterflies and the Conservation,” beginning July 30.  This short course will be taught in the evenings at the USA Graduate School location at L’Enfant Plaza.

The weekend is shaping up as rather poor for butterflying, but if see anything interesting, please share your sightings with us using the comment function on LepLog.wordpress.com or join us for discussion on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.  

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