Butterfly Field Forecast for the Week of 2017 April 8

2017APR02 Silvery Blue ventral_MD-Allegany Co-GRSF Kasecamp

Silvery Blue is flying in the western MD counties [2017 April 2, MD:Allegany Co:Green Ridge State Forest, photo by REB}

2017APR02 Silvery Blue dorsal_MD-Allegany Co-GRSF Kasecamp

Silvery Blue is flying in the western MD counties [2017 April 2, MD:Allegany Co:Green Ridge State Forest, photo by REB}

The past week and weekend showed a steady increase in species diversity and numbers, including Silvery Blue, American Lady, Zebra Swallowtail, Eastern Tailed-blue, Meadow Fritillary, Pearl Crescent, Henry’s Elfin and Black Swallowtail.

Unless I missed the report, the azures on the wing locally are all still Summer (spring brood) Azure, although with the emergence of buds on flowering dogwood we should also be seeing Spring Azure (in much smaller and apparently diminishing numbers).  All the azures netted for close ID in Green Ridge State Forest last weekend were Summer, even the heavily marked ones that bring to mind old and out-of-date azure formulations of marginata, violacea, etc.  Neither has Holly Azure been reported yet, but I strongly suspect it is now flying in the appropriate holly habitat. In southern NJ, Blueberry Azure, often considered the distinct species lucia, is reported on the wing.

Of the elfins, only Henry’s Elfin made an appearance this week (both sightings in Prince George’s Co MD), timed as always with the bloom of larval host redbud (although it appears that in parts of its range around here Henry’s also feeds on holly).  Be especially observant to report the very green viridissima form and note if it is flying with the typical brown morph  (normal henrici).  Brown Elfin is out in southern NJ.  Eastern Tailed-blue has begun flying; so has Silvery Blue in the higher elevations to the west.  Gray Hairstreak sightings picked up.  If they aren’t out already, both Red-banded Hairstreak and Juniper Hairstreak will be on the wing soon.

Little change in status for whites and sulphurs this week; Falcate Orangetips are building in numbers.  So far, it’s still mostly males, but the sex ratio should even out this week.  Olympia Marbles were searched for last weekend in Green Ridge State Forest but were not observed.

Zebra Swallowtails joined Eastern Tiger Swallowtails on the rolls this week, and Black Swallowtails were reported in the gardens around the Smithsonian Castle in DC.

American Ladies showed up across the region this week, some (in Green Ridge for example) pristine enough to be locally emerged and some tattered and torn probable migrants.  It’s been a rather poor Mourning Cloak year, but they are still flying, as are good numbers of Eastern Commas and Question MarksPearl Crescents and Meadow Fritillary made first of the year appearances here.  American Snouts continue.  Variegated Fritillary and Common Buckeye were picked up in NJ.  Anyone in the field in the mountain counties over the next week should keep a sharp eye out for tortoiseshells and specialty commas like Gray and Green Comma.

Skippers numbers and diversity are up; Dreamy and Sleepy Duskywings were reported in Green Ridge and elsewhere, and Juvenal’s appears to be having an early and large flight (some of which could be Horace’s, the undersides of which have not been checked).  Cobweb Skipper should be on the wing in appropriate xeric bluestem habitats.  Where it still exists, field observers should look for Appalachian Grizzled Skipper (fingers crossed for MD).

Nectar sources:  Major nectar sources this past week have included moss phlox, redbud, crabapples, high-bush cranberry, and the usual low forbs henbit, ground ivy, deadnettle, dandelion, and spring cresses.

Sunday looks to be the standout day this weekend, and the rains of yesterday and this morning may push a number of new species to emerge.  If you make it out, please let us know  what you find for the next Forecast. You can leave your sightings as a comment here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or by posting to Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

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