Mid-Atlantic Butterfly Field Forecast for the Week Beginning 2016 Aug 20

Howard Co MD Sleepy Orange photographed by Jim Wilkinson [2016 Aug 13]

Howard Co MD Sleepy Orange, one of three photographed by Jim Wilkinson [2016 Aug 13]

Finally we’re getting some southern migrants in numbers this week, partly driven I suspect by better nectar availability since the drought broke and partly from favorable wind and weather patterns across the east coast.

Of particular note this week have been multiple sightings of Ocola Skippers across the area, where they are especially fond of tickseeds, perennial sunflowers, and bonesets. Clouded Skippers haven’t been observed locally yet, but should be making an appearance at any time through the first frost. And of course we’re nearing the season for Leonard’s Skipper, the emergence of which is timed to blooming of liatris on barrens and dry hillsides. The peak for this species is usually around Sept. 10 each year. Common Checkered-skipper is flying now, with several local reports. Long-tailed Skipper has not been seen yet this year. Hayhurst’s Scallopwing has been reported from only a couple of locations, but it seems to be hanging on well.

By contrast, grass skippers generally have had a short and rather unimpressive flight that wound down early, including Zabulon, Little Glassywing, Swarthy and their ilk. But that may be turning around for the final brood. A few Broken-dashes – both Southern and Northern – were reported, but this is clearly not going to be one of their banner years. Peck’s, Fiery, and Sachem seem to be building in numbers, and coastal skippers like Salt Marsh and Aaron’s are having a good current flight, especially in NJ.  Silver-spotted Skippers are common throughout the region.

Little Yellow was reported sporadically around the area, as was Cloudless Sulphur, although on a drive down from DC to Charlottesville yesterday there were a number of road-crossers that suggest to me we’ll be seeing more Cloudless in our area soon. Sleepy Oranges have been scarce but occasionally spotted, including three recently at Robinson Nature Center (Howard Co MD).

All three of our hackberry butterflies – Snout and the two Emperors – are still flying. The greater fritillary flight is about bust, but Variegated Frits are still being reported in small but increasing numbers. No recent Meadow Fritillary reports. Red-spotted Purple, American Lady, and Red Admiral are all on the decline. Buckeyes are flying but in only modest numbers so far.

Bronze Copper is enjoying a good third flight that has just emerged in some numbers in NJ; observers should be looking for it in the Delmarva marshes.

The best flight of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in some years is currently on the wing. Black, Spicebush and Pipevine Swallowtails are also flying, but no local reports of Giant recently.

Looks like a decent weekend with moderate temps and sunshine should make this a good weekend to hit the field in search of southern skippers and others. If you make it out, please report back to us for the next Forecast by commenting here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or posting to Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

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