Final Forecast of the 2016 Season — Week Beginning 2016 Sept 24

American Snout on thoroughwort in Howard Co MD [2016 Sept 20, photo by Jim Wilkinson]

A fresh American Snout on thoroughwort in Howard Co MD [2016 Sept 20, photo by Jim Wilkinson]

It’s the month of final hurrahs for summer butterflies; except for a few irruptive southern migrants like Common Buckeye we’re seeing the last of the large flights of butterflies for the season. If you’re lucky enough to have found the few spots of sunshine in the area today, or get out after the cold front passes tomorrow, you’ll still have some good butterfly observing and a chance at a couple of FOYs still this month.

Still MIA is Clouded Skipper, which is being seen in some numbers as far north as the Raleigh area but for which I have not yet seen any local records this year. Ocola Skippers are still being seen throughout the region, and Long-tailed Skippers are showing up in many locations. The normal grass skippers have peaked, including Sachem, but a new influx or emergence of Fiery Skippers is currently dominating a lot of area lantana patches. A few Leonard’s Skippers are still on the wing in their preferred habitat.

Monarchs are showing a strong flight in parts of the area, including dozens this week on the National Mall. A growing hypothesis is that the “dearth” of Monarchs in the mid-Atlantic area in the fall where they used to be common owes more to changing biogeography (and especially nectar sources) than it does to sheer numbers.

With one exception, swallowtail numbers are declining. There’s currently a fresh brood of Pipevine Swallowtails on the wing, where again a dozen or more were frequenting the Haupt Garden near the Smithsonian Castle in downtown DC this week. Palamedes is probably on the wing (and will be for another couple of weeks) in extreme Delmarva, and at least one Giant Swallowtail was noted in the past couple of weeks in the region.

Sleepy Oranges are in flight now; in some places in rather large numbers. Cloudless Sulphurs also are about in good numbers.

Hairstreak numbers also are dropping; exceptions are White M (several observations this week) and Gray. Azures still showed up very occasionally, and even Eastern Tailed-blues are tattered and dwindling. Great Purple Hairstreak should still be flying, however, in southern MD and DE. A few American Copper sightings came in, but no recent Bronze Copper observations (this species flies well into October on the Delmarva Peninsula).

Good numbers of Viceroys and Red-spotted Purples were also well represented in reports this week, as were laggard Meadow Fritillaries and diminishing numbers of Variegated Frits. Fresh Red Admirals were on the wing, giving hope for a final good flights. Commas and Question Marks were also reported; these are mostly on windfall fruit or puddling.  Fresh Snouts are out too.

This will be the last Mid-Atlantic Butterfly Field Forecast for the 2016 season, which wraps up each year on the last weekend of September. But if you want to continue hearing about sightings until the first heavy frosts, follow MDLepsOdes on Google Groups.   Thanks for following us this year, and look for the Forecast to return in April 2017.

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