Mid-Atlantic Weekend Butterfly Field Forecast for 2016 June 4-5



Beautiful shot of Silver-bordered Fritillary flying in West Virginia last week, taken by Matt Orsie on a foray he and Barry Marts took to Tucker and Grant counties. See more from their trip on Matt’s blog, West Virginia Butterflies [http://wvbirder.org/wvleps/]

Another dicey weather weekend with generally poor lep viewing opportunities on tap. If we do get a weather break or two, there are a couple of new arrivals on the summer lep scene to watch for.

But first, a little about what we have not seen so far. None of the whites and sulphurs are having a good season, although Clouded and Orange Sulphurs are flying, as are Cabbage Whites. No recent sightings of Checkered White, and no reports yet this year of Sleepy Orange or Little Yellow – the late freezes to our south likely knocked these back.

Hairstreaks generally are scarce or late. Scarce includes Gray and White-M; Red-banded is out in a second brood but still rather low numbers. Late are all the typical summer ‘streaks – Banded, Striped, Coral, and the like. Edwards Hairstreak is also MIA so far. But the next week, if we get sufficient sunny weather that brings along a good flush of dogbane and butterfly-weed, should see these popping out.

Other gossamer-wings are flying; from here on out this year unless you’re in a forested area with black cohosh any azures you see should be neglecta, the typical Summer Azure. Look especially for them in the vicinity of blooming or almost-blooming shrub dogwoods, privets, and other summer flowers; the eggs are typically laid on the pedicels of unopened buds or on leaves near the inflorescence, where the caterpillars will eat the buds, flowers, and developing seeds. Appalachian Azure is still flying, but it is unmistakable for its large size and bright color. But don’t assume that any azure ovipositing on cohosh is Appalachian; Summer Azure will use cohosh, too. Eastern Tailed-blues are having a modest new brood. For all intents and purposes the elfin flights are over.

The full monty of grass skippers is out – Peck’s, Tawny-edge, Dun, Sachem, Swarthy and Crossline among them. Zabulon and Hobomok males have been out for about 10 days; now the females have joined them. Silver-spotted Skippers are flying and almost surely so are Hoary Edge. Least Skippers are now being seen as well. Pepper-and-Salt is mostly done for the season but could still be seen in the cool mountains. Dusted Skipper will be with us for another week or so; it was late emerging this year. Common Sootywing has been reported widely.  European Skipper has just begun its flight, as has Indian Skipper.

A second generation of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails is on the wing; there is a small window when most of the tigers one sees in the mountains from Frederick west are likely Appalachians, but now they are flying together with Eastern — watch for the large size, lemon yellow color, and lazy floating flight style of Appalachian if you can’t get a good loo at the diagnostic field marks. Second brood Zebra with their long streamers are flying and the numbers look good. Giant Swallowtail is flying in Maryland, and probably so are all the other swallowtails – Black, Spicebush, Pipevine, and, in the swamps of the lower Delmarva, Palamedes. Parsley is festooned with dill caterpillars (Black Swallowtail larvae) in my garden.

The only expected satyr not putting in an appearance so far is Common Wood-nymph, but I suspect it’s flying and just hasn’t been seen bobbing over grassy meadows. Common Ringlet is flying to the west and north; Little Wood-satyrs and Carolina Satyrs are out and Wood-satyrs especially look like they’re building to large numbers. Pearly-eye and Appalachian Brown have been reported.

Question Mark and Comma are fresh; probably other anglewings are too – Gray to the west, Green to the north. Viceroy emerged last weekend, joining a sizeable generation of Red-spotted Purples. Great-spangled Fritillaries also joined the summer butterfly lists this week. Variegated Fritillary has been late showing up in any numbers; there have been only a few scattered sightings. Second-brood Meadow Fritillary is out; so is Silver-bordered Fritillary. Reports of Diana Fritillary (males only so far) in the mountains of the Carolinas are beginning to trickle in. While both Pearl Crescent and Silvery Checkerspot are flying, their numbers are quite modest this cycle. Monarchs continue to float through the area en route to northern milkweed meadows, sometimes stopping to drop off eggs that will hatch, pupate, and continue the journey northward — it’s not their scarcity but their biology that keeps the mid-Atlantic from hosting swarms of these iconic orange critters until their return flights in the fall.

Baltimore Checkerspots should be reported this weekend or in the next week.

There will be a butterfly walk on Sunday June 5th at the Heinz NWR located near the Philadelphia Airport. Walk leader Cliff Hence notes:  The walk will meet at 9AM at the Rt 420 entrance to the refuge which is located near the intersections of Rt 420 and Route 95. Please note: the walk will leave from the parking area off Rt 420 North. FYI There is also parking on the Southbound Side of Route 420.  However that if you park there please use extreme caution crossing to the other side as there is a lot of traffic in the area. Contact him with questions at cwhenceiii@aol.com.

I’m soaking up sunshine and butterflies in the Everglades this weekend (just a tease – Great Southern Whites are everywhere, Barred Yellow is flying, Georgia Satyr on the grassy Everglades savannahs), but if you get out in the mid-Atlantic please let us know what you observe here at  https://leplog.wordpress.com/ and on Google Groups at MDLepsOdes so we can feature it in next week’s Forecast.

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