Finally, at least some sunshine for at least part of the Memorial Day Weekend – Saturday only, if the weather prognostications turn out to be correct. A tropical weather system that will make its way up the southeast coast is likely to harry butterfly observers from Saturday night through most of Monday, with the best chance of clear skies over the weekend the farther west one goes.
And that’s a shame, because we finally have some good butterflies being reported this past week to go out and look for, and a couple that are due any day now and should be on the radar.
Green Ridge State Forest produced the first Giant Swallowtail of the season (the only new swallowtail observation of note, aside from a couple of Zebra Swallowtail sightings that suggest the second brood is emerging). This is still peak flight time for the large, lemon-yellow Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail, so in the mountains be sure to look closely at puddling tigers.
Skippers ruled the sightings logs this week, led by several regional reports of Indian Skippers. Northern Cloudywings are becoming common across the area in appropriate habitat; Southern Cloudywings are also mixing it up with the cloudywing flight. The MIA Dusted Skippers have now started showing up on dry hillsides and barrens. Sachem apparently is having a good first brood, with reports from all over. Common Roadside-skippers also have been encountered regularly the past two weeks. I’d be willing to bet that Hoary Edge is also out along Hoop Pole Road in Green Ridge. Dreamy Duskywings are still holding on (although the warm week may end that), as are Pepper-and-Salt Skippers in NJ and PA. Numbers of Hobomok and Zabulon Skippers are picking up.
Hairstreaks have been rather scarce so far, and even the warm temperatures of this past week haven’t provided much in the way of diversity beyond the usual suspects of Red-banded and Gray. But if it isn’t flying already (and there have been good scouts in known locations this week), Edwards’ Hairstreak will be soon. And this is the weekend we historically begin to see Striped and Banded Hairstreaks in roadside dogbane patches. Juniper Hairstreak sightings from the PA/MD border indicate a second brood flight is imminent.
Among the nymphalids, Red-spotted Purples are out with a vengeance and very crisp looking. Little Wood-Satyr has begun to fly, and joins Carolina Satyr in many locations now in Maryland – it always pays to look at the dorsal side (should they ever deign to show it to you) for eyespots – present on Little, absent on Carolina. Expect Viceroy on the wing in the next week as well. Common Ringlet has been reported in NJ and is likely also flying in WV and PA. Northern Pearly-eye is flying just north of the region, and probably in our area as well. Appalachian Brown is also likely in sun-dappled swampy areas. A few fresh Mourning Cloaks reported means that the early overwintering adults have produced the summer brood that will aestivate for most of the summer before showing again in the fall before winter hibernation. The early blip of migrant Red Admirals also appear to have been reproductively successful; Red Admiral numbers are ticking up throughout the Forecast territory. Meadow Fritillary is still on the wing, and I suspect the next week will give us FOY Great Spangled Fritillary as well.
The first Monarchs have been reported throughout to region already on the Journey North site, well into New York.
Bronze Copper first brood is out in NJ. American Copper second brood is flying widely.
Linda Hunt is leading a butterfly walk Saturday, May 28, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, at Mt. Pleasant/Howard County Conservancy. Email her if you think you might come (firstname.lastname@example.org ). Bring binoculars (they’ll look for Juniper Hairstreaks in case there are any around), tick repellent (and wear boots, sneakers, long pants, hat), water and sunscreen (supposed to be 85 degrees).
If you need something to while away the rainy hours Sunday and Monday, check out the New York Times Travel Section article on Nabokov’s peregrinations in the Rockies at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/travel/vladimir-nabokov-lolita.html
If you manage to get out before the soaking, please let us know what you observe here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.