Butterfly Field Forecast for the Week of 2017 June 10

Southern Broken-dash

Southern Broken-dash nectaring in vetch from Governor Bridge Natural Area in Prince George’s Co MD. [2017 June 4, observed by Jared Satchell]

The terrific couple days of sunshine brought out a few new characters for the weekly sightings list, including Harris’ Checkerspot, Southern Broken-dash, and confirmed Appalachian Azure.

This week, all the expected grass skippers were out and about:  Peck’s, Hobomok, Zabulon, Tawny-edged, Dun, Swarthy, Little Glassywing, and now Southern Broken-dash among them.  Both Northern and Southern Cloudywings were reported, as were late Dusted Skippers in serpentine barrens near the eastern MD/PA border.  Silver-spotted Skippers are in peak flight just now.  Least Skipper is flying well now too, and given the rank vegetation aided by the spring’s ample rains, they are venturing out into normally drier areas away from the marshy edges and watery ditches they favor, where they might sometimes be confused from a ventral aspect with non-wetland species like Essex (European) Skipper.  The lazy weak flight and frail aspect of Least are a dead give-away when compared with the frenetic, more robust Essex Skippers if you don’t see the uppersides (which are distinctive for both species).

A second brood of American Coppers is on the wing, and Bronze Copper is likely flying but has not yet been reported.  Still a rather paltry Eastern Tailed-blue flight currently on the wing, while it’s a real boom year for the first summer generation of Summer Azure. Appalachian Azures were observed ovipositing on the emerging flowers of black cohosh, but don’t make the mistake of assuming every azure dropping eggs on cohosh is an Appalachian.  I noted two Summer Azures also ovipositing in the same patch of cohosh as the Appalachians.  We should also be seeing Olive (Juniper) Hairstreaks but no reports came in.

Another week has gone by without a confirmed local Viceroy; ditto for Baltimore Checkerspot, both of which should be on the wing.  A number of us sifted through the crescents flying in Washington and Allegany Cos. this weekend; all could be referenced easily to Pearl Crescent despite wide variation in size and dorsal markings.  Harris’ Checkerspot showed up in western MD this week.  Few Great Spangled Fritillaries were reported despite last week’s early sightings; Variegated Fritillaries were sparingly noted as well.  Buckeyes seem to be resurging (or migrating northward); Red-spotted Purples were quite common along back roads in Washington Co (MD) last weekend and reported widely region-side over the week.  And also confounding early predictions, the Silvery Checkerspot flight has been modest at best so far.  By contrast, Little Wood Satyrs seem to be everywhere this week and in good numbers; there were also scattered reports of Northern Pearly-eye and Appalachian Brown.  While Hackberry Emperor was reported, we await our FOY Tawny Emperors.

Fresh Zebra Swallowtails continue to emerge but not in large numbers.  A second flight of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails is on the wing; the univoltine flight of Appalachian Tiger Swallowtails is either late or was very small this spring.  Fresh Pipevine Swallowtails are out, as are fresh Black Swallowtails, but the most common swallowtail throughout most of the mid-Atlantic now is Spicebush, which is having a terrific second generation.  Still no Giant Swallowtails, although they are flying in New England.

No unusual sightings of pierids came in this week beyond a single confirmed Sleepy OrangeCheckered White is MIA this season so far but probably on the wing.  Little Yellow has not yet made an appearance but could show up any day.

Moth Report:  Of special note this week are Io and Royal Walnut Moths;  tiger moths including Virginian, Banded, Isabella, and Agreeable; many sightings of Large Lace Border Moth; various pug and slug moths; and Polyphemus, Tulip-tree, and Luna silk moths.  Rosy Maple Moth and Pink-striped Oakworm Moth were also seen at several locations.  Of particular interest is this report from Tim Reichard:  Last Friday 6/2, Sue Muller, Rod Burley, and I surveyed areas near the Patuxent Research Refuge North Tract Visitor Contact Station in Anne Arundel County for nocturnal moths.  One species that showed up is Monochroa quinquepunctella, a twirler moth species (Gelechiidae) with no prior records in the state in any of the BAMONA, BugGuide, Moth Photographers Group, Maryland Biodiversity Project, iNaturalist, and BOLD Systems databases.  It was described in 1903 from a specimen from Pennsylvania in June.

Notable Nectar:  In addition to first blooms on dogbane and milkweed, clovers continue to dominate the nectar scene with other legumes including crown vetch and other vetches.  Clethra is already budding out and should be in bloom in swamps across coastal plain and piedmont in the next two weeks.  Buttonbush is beginning to bloom as well. Golden Alexanders attracts some woodland nectaring action.  Ox-eye Daisies are the draw in many of the western counties just now.

A warm — even hot — summer weekend is on tap, so please report any finds you see for the next Forecast.  I’ll be leading a foray for Audubon Naturalist Society on Saturday to the forests north and east of Frederick (MD), where we’re hoping for Edwards’ Hairstreak, and we’ll post our findings.  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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