Mid-Atlantic Butterfly Field Forecast for the Week of 2016 Aug 13

Kathy Litzinger's excellent Harvester photo from Rockburn Br Park, a new location for this species in Howard Co MD. [2016 Aug 9, photo by Kathy Litzinger, graciously shared by Linda Hunt]

Kathy Litzinger’s excellent Harvester photo from Rockburn Branch Park, a new location for this species in Howard Co MD. [2016 Aug 9, photo by Kathy, graciously shared with HoCo lep enthusiasts by Linda Hunt]

While things are certainly picking up well to our south – Long-tailed Skipper showing up in NC, as well as good numbers of Little Yellow and Cloudless Sulphur — we have not been so fortunate.   Around here, we’ve only meager sightings of Cloudless Sulphur and Sleepy Orange; no Little Yellows since an atypical sighting in early summer (likely a hitchhiking chrysalis). But hope springs eternal where reality leaves off in these hot days of late summer.

We continue to get reports of low or no numbers of butterflies across much of the region, especially in suburban gardens. Coastal areas seem to be faring better than Piedmont, and mountain areas generally worst of all.

Harvesters are out in a new brood locally; look for them anywhere you see alder (and sometimes, beech) with wooly aphids on the tips of twigs. The caterpillar is carnivorous on these aphids, and receives care from the same ants that feed on the aphid secretions.

Otherwise it’s kind of slow. Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are having a good flight, other swallowtail species are winding down. Variegated Fritillaries are showing up again (in my suburban yard in College Park, no less!) and this may presage a heavier late flight. Buckeyes are uncommon but regular; nobody has mentioned the fall rosa form yet. Lots of fresh Red Admirals; presumably locally hatched on nettle. No good flight of Silvery Checkerspot has materialized. Pearl Crescent and Eastern Tailed-blue flights have been modest at best over much of the region.

Grass skippers are still flying, although Ocola has not been reported this week anywhere near, but in good numbers farther south. Hoary Edge is in a second brood in NC; I’ve never seen it in a second generation in MD but then I’m not up in Green Ridge usually in August (few sane people are). Common Sootywing has been reported around the region.

Notable misses so far this season include Great Purple Hairstreak, Giant Swallowtail (after a few early season sightings), and Hayhurst’s Scallopwing (at least locally; there are NJ and PA reports of Hayhurst’s). [Update!  There apparently is a thriving colony with fresh adults on the wing now in Rohrersville (Washington Co MD)][MORE UPDATES!! Great Purple Hairstreaks — 4 — in Dorchester Co MD and Hayhurst’s Scallopwing along the MD/DE line in Worcester Co., both last week of July]

There will be a Butterfly-Ode Walk this Sunday 8/14 at the John Heinz NWR located near the Philadelphia Airport. The walk will be led by Cliff Hence and will meet at 9AM at the Visitors Center. This program is free and open to the public. For more information about activities at the refuge go to: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/John_Heinz/visit/upcomingevents.html

And I would be exceptionally remiss not to honor the untimely passing of Dick Smith, the veritable dean of the Maryland butterfly community and a founder of the late Washington Area Butterfly Club. He died unexpectedly on a family vacation in the Idaho mountains, and his generous wisdom and expertise will be sorely missed. I’ll think of you, Dick, when we do the trek around Soldiers Delight in your memory this year for Leonard’s Skipper, a field trip you did for the community every year since I can remember.  If you have reminiscences about Dick, feel free to post them here and I’ll pull them together and share them with family.  Check the MDLepsOdes Google Group for memorial service details when they are available.

The weekend is dicey weather-wise, but if you go out and see anything interesting, please let us know for the next Forecast by commenting here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or posting to Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

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3 Responses to Mid-Atlantic Butterfly Field Forecast for the Week of 2016 Aug 13

  1. ravenfrank says:

    Rick, we have had Hayhurst’s Scallopwings in Rohrersville for at least three weeks now. Just yesterday had a fresh one by our back porch. It appears we have a strong colony. This is year #4 for them in good numbers, although we usually had one or two in years before that.


    • Rick says:

      That’s great news! The colonies at Eastern Neck and the National Arboretum seem to have fizzled out. I’ll note this in the forecast.


  2. Hans Holbrook says:

    Hi Rick, I think last week I had another Ocola Skipper. Noticed half dozen Firey Skipper on the BARC property last week. Night before last I saw your note on the passing of Dick Smith. He was always excited when I sent him records, the exchanges in emails about Washington County’s first Ocola Skipper among others came to mind. Yesterday with thoughts of the pleasant exchanges with Dick, I was enjoying the morning’s Leps in the front yard. Best day of the year with 20 species, highlights included 3(!) more Ocolas, seemed fitting. -Hans

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