Mid-Atlantic Weekend Lep Field Forecast for 2015 Aug 22-23

A surprise Dion Skipper, new DC record, found by Tom Stock and Walt Gould scouting for the DC annual count at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens [2015 Aug 16, photo by Walt Gould]

A surprise Dion Skipper, new DC record, found by Tom Stock and Walt Gould scouting for the DC annual count at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens [2015 Aug 16, photo by Walt Gould]

Early appearances of southern specialties and the return of some recently scarce butterflies top the Forecast this week. Little Yellow was seen again this past weekend at Eastern Neck NWR in MD, along with a half-dozen Cloudless Sulphurs.  Sleepy Orange has also been making its way back into the area, evidenced by scattered reports throughout the region.  Checkered White was on the wing in the Catoctins.

The final Zebra Swallowtail flight of the season is at peak, at least at Eastern Neck, while Spicebush and Eastern Tiger flights are winding down. Fresh Black Swallowtails are still being reported, but Pipevine Swallowtail has been laying low or not flying this past week except for one report in southwest PA.

Skippers have finally started building in numbers, beginning with the near-irruption of Ocola Skippers throughout the region. Fiery Skippers are also abundant this year in most locations, along with both Southern and Northern Broken-dashes. Swarthy Skipper is especially common; so too is Silver-spotted Skipper. Sachem is not, surprisingly. Common Checkered-skipper has been reported sparingly, and the current broods of Horace’s and Wild Indigo Duskywing are several weeks into their last generation. Zabulon Skipper is quite common (including further incursions into southern PA) this season. Least Skipper is flying but not very common this year. A surprising Dion Skipper was spotted by the scouting party for the DC count in Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a likely new record for the District. Peck’s, Crossline, Dun, and Little Glassywing are also still out, but not in great numbers.  A very early (in my mind anyway) Leonard’s Skipper was observed in north-central PA this week; visitors to Soldiers Delight or other barrens this weekend should keep their eyes sharp for this one.  Aaron’s and Saltmarsh Skippers were flying at Bombay Hook NWR DE.

Fresh hairstreaks out now include Red-banded and Gray, but White M has not been reported since spring. Nor has Great Purple Hairstreak been reported from the MD Eastern Shore yet this year. Eastern Tailed-blues are in a modest flight, but Summer Azure is flying pretty well just now, especially in the vicinity of blooming Devil’s Walking-stick shrubs.

Monarchs were very common at Eastern Neck and showed up on almost every observer’s list this week, still in oviposition mode. Viceroy is out, a fresh brood of Red-spotted Purples is out, and fresh Pearl Crescents are flying. The promise of a large final summer brood of Silvery Checkerspot, signaled by large numbers of caterpillars seen earlier in many stands of Wingstem, seems to have fizzled out. Eastern Commas were observed laying eggs on nettle this weekend; Question Mark is also on the wing. Common Wood-nymphs are recently out again, and fresh Appalachian Browns were picked up in several spots. American Snouts were all over the Devil’s Walking-stick at Eastern Neck and reported from a number of other locations, as have both fellow Hackberry specialists Tawny and Hackberry Emperor.  Very fresh Red Admirals were widely observed in the mid-Atlantic.

The DC Annual 4th of July (or thereabouts) NABA Count will be held Saturday (Aug. 22), with the count circle centered on the US National Arboretum. In addition to the Arbo, the count team expects to cover Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Last year’s count yielded up a surprising White Admiral at the USNA in addition to Harvester at KAG. The rain date is Sunday, Aug 23 — though at this point, the long range forecast does not include rain. Counting will start at 9:30 a.m. Meet in the parking lot of the Arboretum Visitor Center near the R Street entrance. There will be NO FEE for this count. However, if anyone wishes to make a voluntary $3 contribution, it will be passed along to the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) to cover the costs of coordinating the counts and compiling the data. If you would like to participate or have any questions, feel free to get in touch with Tom Stock, via email: altomomatic |AT| Verizon |DOT| net.

Whether as part of the DC count or otherwise, 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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