Last weekend was spectacular, and as expected quite a number of sightings came in over the past few days from weekend observers. It’s been very dry, and especially in barrens and on dry hillsides many early blooms are browning out prematurely, so nectar abundance was an issue at many localities. The rain predicted as a precursor to this weekend should ameliorate that to some extent, and provoke another round of new emergences.
We have the full complement of spring duskywings flying now, predominantly Juvenal’s but an increasing number of Horace’s as well. As one heads west we also are picking up a good flight this year of Sleepy Duskywings, and in Allegany Co MD at least Dreamy is beginning to fly also. The first Wild Indigo Duskywing was also reported this weekend (also in Allegany Co). Cobweb Skipper is flying in Green Ridge State Forest and should be looked for elsewhere in dry fields and on hillsides where bluestem grasses provide food for the caterpillars. This weekend is likely to produce the region’s first cloudywings; Northern Cloudywing is being seen in the Carolina mountains already. In its known redoubts in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Appalachian Grizzled Skipper is also out, presumably at the beginning of its flight as it is being seen in low numbers still. Common Checkered-skipper is also out. Silver-spotted Skipper will probably be picked up this weekend or during the week next here; it’s on the wing in VA and the Carolinas. My guess is that Dusted Skipper will also be out and about this weekend in places like Soldiers Delight.
All three “common” elfins were seen this week throughout the region – Brown, Henry’s, and Eastern Pine. It’s still a little early for Frosted Elfin, which flies just as the lupine begins to break bud. Hoary Elfin in NJ (we have no confirmed populations in MD anymore) probably are beginning flight but haven’t been reported yet.
Other lycaenids showing themselves this past week include our first Olive (Juniper) Hairstreaks, as well as Gray Hairstreaks. Hessel’s Hairstreak is flying in the Carolinas (and possibly in VA’s Great Dismal Swamp). Red-banded will almost certainly be picked up this weekend, while White-M also is being seen (in smaller numbers than recent years). Azures are a mixed lot now; the early “spring” Summer Azure population is about tanked or at least very worn, Summer Azure is flying where dogwood is now flowering, and American Holly Azure and the NJ version of Northern Azure (“Blueberry Azure”) are out as is the nominate Northern Azure (in the VA and MD mountains at elevation, certainly). Probably Cherry Gall Azure is out, too. We’re a week or two away from Appalachian Azure, is my guess. Eastern Tailed-blues are out in force.
American Coppers are out. Harvester is flying in VA and the Carolinas.
Five of the local swallowtails are in full flight: Eastern Tiger, Black, Spicebush, Pipevine, and Zebra. Giant would not be surprising but hard to come by in the mid-Atlantic these days. Palamedes is on the wing in the Great Dismal and likely is or will be out soon in the local colony near Pocomoke City.
Pearl Crescents are beginning to show in multiples. Most of the anglewing sightings have been of Eastern Comma, with a few Question Marks thrown in, but it has not been a good anglewing year despite (or because of?) the warm winter. Ditto for Mourning Cloaks. Red Admirals and American Ladies are already well into their northern migration throughout the area. Early sightings of Meadow Fritillary and continuing sightings of early Variegated Fritillary came in this week also.
On the pierid ledger are continuing Olympia Marbles in the western MD shale barren areas. Still relatively low numbers (in most places) of both Orange and Clouded Sulphurs. Falcate Orangetips were numerous in the mountains this past weekend but clearly past peak in the Piedmont and Eastern Shore locations. Cabbage (Small) White is having a mediocre spring flight; no new sightings beyond the one early tick of Checkered White that I am aware of. I’ll be looking for West Virginia Whites on a scouting expedition for leps in Garrett Co. this weekend.
I’m sure the warm but not too hot temperatures and abundant sunshine will lure many of us out into the field again. 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 atMDLepsOdes.