First 2016 Forecast! Weekend Lep Forecast for April 2-3

eastern pine elfin 2016 College Park

Eastern Pine Elfin on chickweed, Northeast Branch trail, College Park [courtesy Walter Gould, 2016 April 1]

Welcome to another season of weekly butterfly forecasts for the mid-Atlantic region!  I hope you enjoy these, and if you do, please send your sightings and field trip notes to me to include.

Highlights this week include Olympia Marble, Zebra Swallowtail, elfins, and hairstreaks.

Of course the big driver of the forecast this week is our freakishly early spring, which shows little or no chance of reversing course or even slowing down much, although the cool and damp weather predicted over the next few days may delay some of the early emergences that have sent all us lepsters out into the field.

The azures have been out in force for some weeks already, starting with “spring form” Summer Azure, and now joined by Spring Azure and (in the mountains) Northern Azure.  Other lycaenids with early appearances have been both Eastern Pine and Henry’s Elfins, in locations spread across the area.  So far no reports of Brown Elfins, but I suspect that’s just because nobody has gone to their preferred habitat yet.  Several reports of Gray Hairstreak have already come in, and one report of Red-banded Hairstreak.  Can Juniper Hairstreak be far behind?  Silvery Blue is on the wing in Green Ridge State Forest.

Falcate Orangetips are having a super spring and are at peak flight about now across the Piedmont.  In the western mountains, Olympia Marbles are at peak already whereas Falcates just had a big emergence over the past day or two.  The most surprising pierid to date is an Anne Arundel Checkered White. Cabbage (Small) Whites have been flying for a couple of weeks.

Swallowtails are out, too, with early sightings of Zebra Swallowtail and just in the past few days of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.  Pipevine is also an early flier and should be looked for this weekend and next.

We usually have a few good weeks of excitement with just anglewings and Mourning Cloaks, but they’ve gotten sort of short shrift this season as everything else started popping early.  Still, it’s a good (but not great) year for Commas and Mourning Cloaks; I have yet to see a Question Mark but undoubtedly one or more of the orange anglewings I spook up on back roads with the Subaru have been these.

The only skippers to make appearances so far are Juvenal’s and Sleepy, the latter in Allegany Co in Maryland, where it is already flying in some numbers.

The weather seems pretty unsettled this weekend, but if you find yourself in the field and you see anything interesting, 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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