Butterfly Field Forecast for the Week of 2017 April 22


Cobweb Skipper flying in Green Ridge State Forest 2017 April 18 [photo courtesy Jim Springer]

New to the list this week as FOYs are Tropical Leafwing, Reakirt’s Blue, Arizona Skipper, Chisos Banded-skipper, Big Bend Scrub-hairstreak … oh, wait.  No.  That’s where I am NOW!  Big Bend National Park.  [Sorry for the tease]Meanwhile, back in the mid-Atlantic — The rush of new species continues, with recent sightings of Juniper Hairstreak, Frosted Elfin, Cobweb Skipper, Silver-spotted Skipper, Common Sootywing , Painted Lady, Variegated Fritillary, Spicebush Swallowtail and Monarch.

We’ve reached that complicated time of the year when numerous azure species can be flying; So far, only Spring (ladon) and Summer (neglecta) have been affirmatively reported in our area.  Holly Azure is out in southern New Jersey so likely flying closer to home as well.  Eastern Tailed-blues have become common, Gray Hairstreaks are being reported regularly, and all three of the “normal” elfins — Pine, Brown, and Henry’s — are on the wing.  Frosted Elfin is also flying in southern New Jersey (which is typically about a week ahead of our populations on the Maryland Eastern Shore).  Juniper Hairstreaks were widely reported across the area.

Dwindling pierids now are Falcate Orangetips, although Olympia Marbles were still flying well last weekend.  Notable populations of both Clouded and Orange Sulphurs are out, as opposed to last year when both species were scarce.  No reports of West Virginia White but they are certainly on the wing.  Likely Checkered Whites are flying in disturbed habitats in small numbers, especially on the Eastern Shore. Cloudless Sulphurs are apparently pushing northward into the Carolinas aggressively so we may have an early year for these.

There are still a few reports of Mourning Cloaks trickling in, and winter form anglewings are still out.  Pearl Crescent numbers are peaking.  Meadow Fritillary and the first Variegated Fritillaries of the season have been spotted. Painted Ladies look like they are making a strong spring showing for the species, with widespread reports across the area (not the usual pinpoints near elementary schools where the kids have released their captives after studying metamorphosis). The first Monarch reports of the season came in from MD and PA, and Common Buckeye was reported in southern NJ.

The new swallowtail kid on the block is Spicebush Swallowtail, which joins Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Pipevine Swallowtail, and Zebra SwallowtailBlack Swallowtail is probably out as well now too but just not reported yet.  It will be a week or two before we are likely to see Appalachian Tigers in the appropriate western/higher elevation habitats.

All three common spring duskywings — Juvenal’s, Horace’s, and Wild Indigo — are flying in good numbers this week.  Common Sootywing and Cobweb Skipper were both reported from Green Ridge State Forest.  The first Silver-spotted Skippers also appear to have emerged in our area this past week.  Common Checkered-skippers are flying now as well.  In the Virginia mountains, Appalachian Grizzled Skipper is on the wing.  Closer to home, Pepper and Salt Skipper is probably flying too and should be watched for in the western and mountain counties.


Nectar sources of note this week: Fleabane, pinxter azalea (for the swallowtails especially), yellow rocket and other tall spring mustards, vetches, and early clovers.  Plus the usual assortment of low forbs henbit, geranium, ground ivy, deadnettle, and dandelion.I’ll be back from my LepTrek to Trans-Pecos Texas for the next Forecast (look for more posts on LepLog with highlights of the trip), but meantime  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.

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