Even in the mid-40’s F temperature of last weekend a number of butterflies that had emerged earlier in the week were flying well at Patuxent North Wildlife Refuge in Anne Arundel Co., including Henry’s Elfin, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Zebra Swallowtail, and fresh Eastern Tailed-blues. Conspicuously absent where they had been flying here a week ago were any azures and Falcate Orangetips. The warmer end of the week brought Falcates back at most previous locations by today.
Elsewhere Zebra Swallowtails seem to be popping up in all the usual places with pawpaw, the larval host. The warm weather predicted for the weekend is likely to bring out the first Pipevine and Black Swallowtails as well.
Cabbage White seems to be having a meager first brood; perhaps this is owing to cold rain as they emerged, or perhaps the warm winter favored their diseases or predators. Orange and Clouded Sulphurs also seem to be off the mark so far. And while it hasn’t been reported here yet – likely because no one has been looking in its habitat yet – West Virginia White emerged in Connecticut already so is likely on the wing in Garrett Co.
Eastern Pine Elfin wasn’t reported this week, and Brown Elfins have not yet been observed in MD (ther are reports from WV), but Henry’s Elfins were widely observed.
The first Red Admirals were reported from Frederick Co (MD) this week, but sightings of Commas already appear to have dropped off. Question Mark has been very rarely reported so far. Mourning Cloak numbers are generally low but the species is still seen in most of its known habitats. Pearl Crescents have emerged.
To our north along the NJ coast, our friends at the South Jersey Butterfly B/Log have been reporting significant numbers of American Ladies, sufficient to suggest that a northward migration is underway. Jersey lepsters have also reported American Copper in addition to the same Red Admiral surge we’ve seen locally.
The only bona fide hairstreak reported so far this season is Gray, although I will be very surprised if Juniper Hairstreak won’t be picked up by folks in the field this weekend (it has been reported in Rockingham Co VA already). It’s worth checking out mature stands of Eastern red-cedar and watching for aerial dogfights among the males at the tops of the trees (or on dandelions in the grass under the trees). If not this weekend then within the next week we’ll also likely receiving sightings of Red-banded Hairstreak across the region, and Hessel’s Hairstreak in the Atlantic White-cedar swamps of New Jersey.
The primary duskywing flying now is Juvenal’s; all of the candidate duskywings I’ve netted or seen closely enough this week to observe the tell-tale spots (or lack thereof) on the VHW have been Juvenal’s rather than Horace’s, but Horace’s has been reported at several locations. To the west, Sleepy Duskywing is also flying and I suspect this weekend we’ll also have reports of Dreamy. Cobweb Skipper is also likely to make an appearance in the warm weekend sunshine.
I’m sure the warm temperatures and abundant sunshine this weekend will lure many of us out into the field. If so, post or send us your sightings for the next Weekend Forecast. In the meantime, visit us at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.