Mid-Atlantic Weekend Lep Field Forecast for 2015 Aug. 29-30

Long-tailed Skipper from Harford Co MD this week

Long-tailed Skipper from Harford Co MD this week at Swan Harbor Farm [photo courtesy of and copyright Denis Quinn]

A couple of very exciting FOYs get headline billing in this Forecast: very early Clouded and Long-tailed Skippers. The Clouded Skipper was reported from the Howard County Conservancy property (MD) last weekend, and the Long-tailed Skipper from Swan Harbor Farm in Harford Co. MD, posted to NABA’s sightings page. Both are quite early records.

Other skippers also are showing well this past week, including a veritable explosion of Sachems. The DC count broke every record in its books since starting in 1996, and Sachem led the way with an astonishing 535 individuals – more than the combined total of individuals of all species on any previous DC count. Among the other skippers on the count at either the National Arboretum or Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens were Common Checkered-Skippers, Dion Skippers (six, at KAG; when the species was only first reported from DC just the weekend before; nine were reported the next day), and 12 Ocola Skippers. Southern Broken-dashes were also quite common. Elsewhere, Leonard’s Skipper has been reported from several PA locations but not yet spotted at our local go-to Leonard’s spot, Soldiers Delight near Baltimore. Other common grass skippers this week were Peck’s, Zabulon, and Tawny-edged; Fiery, Dun, and Crossline less so.

The summer hairstreak peak has come and gone, but fresh Gray and Red-banded Hairstreaks are being reported. Until today, the closest White M sighting to come in was from Philadelphia, but this afternoon one was observed briefly observed in Howard Co MD at the Gateway Business Park in Columbia.  However, you’d have to go all the way to the Great Dismal Swamp for a Great Purple Hairstreak, where a singleton was observed early last week. American Copper is scarce in the current brood, and Bronze Copper remains MIA. Eastern Tailed-blues aren’t exactly uncommon, but it’s a significantly smaller than expected brood currently on the wing. Summer Azures are tapering off but still flying.

Monarchs were reported on most field trips this past week, sometimes in considerable numbers. Northern Pearly-eye, Appalachian Brown, Red-spotted Purple and both Emperors (Hackberry and Tawny) are also flying. Red Admiral numbers have dropped precipitously. Variegated Fritillary has been seen in a number of locations this past week, as have fresh Meadow Fritillaries. While most Great Spangled Fritillaries are ragged almost past recognition as butterflies, a singularly pristine one was flying at the Plummer House butterfly garden in Anne Arundel Co MD on Sunday. Gulf Fritillaries are making their way rather far north already, well into NC. Carolina Satyr continues its expansion into Maryland, especially the western shore of the Bay, and are out in a new brood just now.

On the sulphur side, Cloudless Sulphurs are finally showing up in numbers locally, with 17 seen today in St. Mary’s Co MD.

Cliff Hence will be leading a Butterfly/Ode Walk this Saturday 8/29 at the Heinz NWR at Tinicum located near the Philadelphia Airport. This walk is free and open to the public. Meet 9 AM at the refuge Visitors Center.  For more information on this and other events at the refuge go to: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/John_Heinz/visit/upcomingevents.html

Forecast contributors mourn the passing last week of the long-time curator of the National Arboretum’s butterfly garden, Bob Speaker. Bob was a veteran butterfly counter and a gracious mentor to many of us exploring the unique connections between butterflies and botany in the mid-Atlantic. He will be sorely missed.

The weekend looks warm and dry with scattered clouds, generally very good butterfly weather. Remember if you go out butterfly hunting 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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