Weekend Lep Field Forecast for 2016 April 30-May 1

West Virginia White along the Youghiogheny River in Garrett Co MD, showing heavy gray scaling of this univoltine spring pierid [2016 April 23, photo by REB]

West Virginia White along the Youghiogheny River in Garrett Co MD, showing heavy gray scaling on the underwings of this univoltine spring pierid [2016 April 23, photo by REB]

Wet. And cold. And dismal.

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.

This entry was posted in Field Trips/Annual Counts, Forecasts, general butterfly news. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Weekend Lep Field Forecast for 2016 April 30-May 1

  1. plusultra@aol.com says:

    Who took that fabulous photo of the WV white?? Here’s Pat Durkin up here in Maine, impressed to the nines. I’ve never seen a more stunning butterfly photo, of any species. Calling it a “butterfly photo,” actually trivializes this image. Wow!

    There are plenty of RTE butterflies up here, but no WV’s that I know of. Take that, snooty ole New England!

    Pat Durkin 2A Brattle Street South Berwick ME 03908 

    rik kinn plusultra@aol.com

    • Rick says:

      Hi, Pat. That’s one of mine — took quite a few that day to get the right ones to share with the NHFS class this summer and illustrate the gray scaling.

      I’ve been seeing some reports of WVW’s on some NE listservs — notably Sunderland MA (massleps) and Huntington MA (massleps).

      I’m planning an excursion up into MA and the NY Saranac Lake area the first week of June for Early Hairstreak and Jutta Arctics, plus some odes and birding.

      — Rick

  2. Hey just wanted to let you know about the Hoary Elfins, so far for the year I have 65 Hoary Elfins reported just for Ocean County alone! You can see all the reports here on the Ocean County Butterfly Log: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TiNgxbzuVCe3-8rSGu7dRbYPZRPXbxyBu9Id5tqX7ls/edit#gid=543986322

    • Rick says:

      Thanks, Shawn — your ears (electronically) must have been burning, since I was just looking at your FB page, having followed it from the odes group. Tom Raub also let me know today he had seen a few at Warren Grove (weather was dicey) and I had been expecting them since they fly contemporaneously with Cobweb Skipper and that beast has been on the wing for about two weeks. I got my lifer Hoary Elfins at WG two years ago; one day with something like 250 over the bearberry …. Amazing.

      Historically it is recorded from the relict bogs in w Maryland, where it is presumed to feed on trailing arbutus rather than bearberry. Plan on looking for it next weekend out that way, weather permitting.

      Thanks for the intel!

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