The warm weather of this past week continued to bring out new first-of-years, including American Copper, Spring Azure, Juniper Hairstreak, Red Admiral, Wild Indigo Duskywing, Pine Elfin, Sleepy Orange and probable Holly Azure (given habitat and oviposition behavior).
Sleepy Orange is a new addition to the pierid roster for 2017, observed flying in Green Ridge State Forest last weekend and in Virginia. And Virginia also is seeing West Virginia Whites on the wing in the mountains; likely they are flying in western Maryland as well now or soon will be. Numerous Olympia Marbles were observed in and around Green Ridge State Forest last weekend, including in areas where they haven’t been seen in a decade or more.
Fresh White M Hairstreaks, larger numbers of Gray Hairstreaks, and both Henry’s and Brown Elfins were seen this past week. Pine Elfin is also flying, seen in Green Ridge. More Eastern Tailed-blues were reported from throughout the region. Juniper Hairstreak hasn’t been reported locally, but based on Carolina and VA reports is probably out here as well. Azures probably represent a mix of species at this point, so care should be taken to separate them, especially for Holly Azure in coastal and piedmont holly ecosystems. American Coppers appeared for the first time this season.
Pipevine Swallowtails from the gardens around the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall made the FOY list this week. Zebra Swallowtail numbers are climbing.
Anglewing numbers are dropping off, as are Mourning Cloaks. We have yet to see a major emergence of Pearl Crescents but the warm weather should bring them out. Red Admiral was picked up in several locations in the past couple of days.
No new skippers made the Forecast this week. Horace’s Duskywing is picking up in numbers among the much more common Juvenal’s, and a couple more confirmed Wild Indigo Duskywings were also noted this week. [6 pm update: On a short expedition to the Patuxent National Wildlife Research Refuge/South Tract in Laurel, MD, late this afternoon, I picked up three Common Checkered-skippers on cinquefoil and geranium in short grass along the lake berm].
Nectar sources: Major nectar sources this past week have included redbud, flowering dogwood, viburnum, various Vaccinium species, some early fleabanes, and the usual low forbs henbit, ground ivy, deadnettle, chickweed, dandelion, and spring cresses. Blackberry is budding and will likely be the next major nectar source; this is also the seasonal cue to start looking for cloudywings.
I’ll be on a LepTrek to trans-Pecos Texas the next two weekends, but watching for local reports. If you make it out in the field over the next couple of days, 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.