LAST FORECAST OF THE SEASON! For weekend of 2015 Sept. 19-20

Jim Wilkinson photo of Ocola Skipper in Howard Co MD [2015 Sept 16, Elkhorn Garden Plots]

Jim Wilkinson photo of Ocola Skipper in Howard Co MD [2015 Sept 16, Elkhorn Garden Plots]

In this last Mid-Atlantic Field Lep Forecast of the season, not a lot of new reports save a second local Long-tailed Skipper sighting earlier this week in Anne Arundel Co MD.  Otherwise, most of the same cast of characters persists.

From the perspective of southern migrants, Ocola Skippers, while still being seen, are fewer the past week.  No Clouded Skippers have been spotted for the past month or so.  Leonard’s Skippers are still flying at Soldiers Delight.  Few Cloudless Sulphurs are in evidence (despite reports of mass northward migration in South Carolina), Buckeyes are having only a modest flight, Sleepy Oranges are around but certainly not common, and Whirlabout (always a hoped-for rarity) hasn’t really been common in the South this year either.

Sachems are still flying well, and Fiery Skippers.  The Southern and Northern Broken-dash flights seems to have fizzled out.  Good numbers of Common Checkered-skippers are being reported still.

Swallowtail numbers are dropping precipitously, and the remaining individuals are looking rather ragged, with the exception of Black Swallowtails (which fly rather late).  The last brood of Palamedes also usually persists well into October in their redoubt at Hickory Point near Pocomoke City, MD.  This same location also sometimes yields Great Purple Hairstreak and Bronze Copper late into the fall as well, although none have been reported anywhere on the Eastern Shore this year.

The anglewings are having their last fling of the season before hibernating, so check fallen pawpaws and windfall apples for Eastern Comma, Question Mark, Mourning Cloak, and (in the west) Gray Comma.  You might scare up some Red-spotted Purples, Red Admirals, Hackberry Emperors, or Tawny Emperors.

Hairstreaks still flying include Gray and Red-banded; White M presumably is still out too but it’s been a poor flight year for this species generally.  Summer Azure is still surprisingly common.

Monarchs, by contrast, have been reported widely and regularly.  As I’ve perused the local hawk watch counts, in fact, almost all have reported daily double digit numbers sometimes approaching 50 or more a day.  At lunch today over the National Mall I had a half dozen, and Tom Stock had a couple on his Mall walkabout, even though the winds are dead calm and have been for several days.  The predicted cold front over the weekend with accompanying westerly winds may bring larger numbers down from the north.

Cliff Hence will be leading a Butterfly/Ode Walk this Saturday at 11AM as part of the annual “Cradle of Birding” festival held at the John Heinz NWR at a Tinicum located near the Phila Airport. This event is free and open to the public.  There will also be a presentation by Eileen Boyle from Mt. Cuba on butterflies and how to entice these flying jewels to your garden. This program will begin at 2pm in the multipurpose room.  Contact Cliff at

This is the last Forecast of the 2015 butterfly season; thanks for joining us and for contributing you sightings.  If there are interesting observations before the heavy frosts, I’ll be posting them on the Google Group MDLepsOdes, so feel free to connect with us there!

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8 Responses to LAST FORECAST OF THE SEASON! For weekend of 2015 Sept. 19-20

  1. Bill Hubick says:

    Thanks for a great season of weekly forecasts. They are much appreciated! – Bill Hubick

    • Rick says:

      My pleasure, as always, Bill. I love doing this — even when it’s midnight on Thursday night and my eyes are burning from going through all the listservs, NABA, and personal emails! But then you’d know all about that…

      I’m ready to add a crescent or an azure to the active species list in 2016! And, with luck, Mottled Duskywing too, now that I actually know what I’m actually looking for from studying it at Crex Meadow in Wisconsin.

    • Rick says:

      You’re very welcome! It’s a pleasure putting this together every week, and of course it keep sm eon top of my game too. Here’s to another great season in 2016!

  2. Rick Cheicante says:

    Rick – Thanks for another full season of lep reports. Your local knowledge and communication coupled with efforts harvesting reports and trends to our south and north and applying them to our Mid-Atlantic region have really provided VERY accurate lep forecasts. Thanks for being the regional hub to all things LEPS!

    • Rick says:

      Thanks a million, Rick — seems so strange that we didn’t see you anywhere in the field in 2015, a situation we’ll have to rectify in 2016!

  3. Tom Stock says:

    Rick – Your weekly forecasts were a highlight of my lepping season. But then, our season is far from over… Here’s to a couple more months of butterflies and birds! About to add a few more leps to my 2015 list, with high hopes for more additions to come…


    • Rick says:

      Well, you know what a kick it is to keep on top of lep happenings in the area — and about my network of butterfly spies spread out through the mid-Atlantic! Let’s hope that 2016 will actually see more of our armchair butterfly enthusiasts out of their gardens and into the field for some citizen science observation. Looking forward to racking up some new leps at the International Butterfly Festival later this month …

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