That about sums it up for the weather this weekend, and it’s unlikely anyone locally will be seeing much in the way of butterflies this Mayday. I could hardly muster the enthusiasm for a Forecast! But just in case you venture afield and find a stray sunshower between the drizzle and the damp and the rain, here are a few things to look for.
In NJ, Hessel’s Hairstreak is on the wing, where it is flying with Holly and Blueberry Azures. Although Hoary Elfin has not yet been reported there too but likely will be this week when the weather turns.
Closer to home, sightings of note were of Meadow Fritillary in Montgomery Co (MD) and a FOS report of Silvery Checkerspot at Patuxent North in Anne Arundel Co (MD). Reports of Silver-spotted Skipper and multiple FOS Red-spotted Purples in the region also came in over the past week. Carolina Satyr is out and about in VA and should be shortly in MD (best chances to see this lep are in Charles Co); the more common Little Wood Satyr usually emerges about now as well.
Flights of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail are at peak about now, and this swallowtail seems to be having a great first brood (unlike last year’s anemic first flight). They were omnipresent in Garrett Co (MD) last weekend. Zebra Swallowtail also is at first generation peak, and a good places to see large numbers of them are at Elk Neck State Park (Cecil Co, MD) and Susquehanna State Park (Harford Co, MD). Black Swallowtail is also flying.
[Late addition to the Forecast: Curt Lehman photographed a Sleepy Orange ovipositing in Allegheny Co PA on April 25]
West Virginia Whites also seem to be enjoying a good flight for this univoltine species. Multiples were observed last weekend at several locations in Garrett Co (MD) in the Potomac and Yough river systems, as well as in a location they haven’t (to my knowledge) been seen for a while: Big Run State Park. All of these spots have one thing in common: little or no garlic mustard, an invasive weed that acts as an “oviposition sink” for the butterfly: Females find the chemical signature of this plant so alluring they will lay all their eggs on it rather than on the native toothworts that were their historic host plants, and the caterpillars are unable to metabolize something in the garlic mustard and die. Reports of this species are always welcome.
Speaking of reports, there is an interesting and timely post on the South Jersey Butterfly B/Log about reporting “undesignated” locations to protect the location of sensitive species in their quite sophisticated (and envy inducing for LepLog) sightings database. Read the discussion.
This is a great weekend for daydreaming about sunny skies and planning field trips later in the season, so check out the master field trip and annual count calendar listings above (I’ve added a couple of new ones, and if you have others to announce let me know!). Myself, I’ll be putting the final touches on the syllabus and course materials for Butterflies of Early Summer, my 5-week introduction to spring and early summer species for the Natural History Field Studies program of the Audubon Naturalist Society co-sponsored with Graduate School USA.
Some of us from MDLOG (MD Leps/Odes Group) will be decamping to Garrett Co. Friday and Saturday (and some of us on Sunday, Mother’s Day) next weekend. See the note in the calendar and we’d be happy to have company.
And just because we’re socked in by bad weather, others regionally might have better luck, and we hope they’ll leave their sightings here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.