It’s seldom this happens this early in the season, but for the past week no new FOYs were reported for our area (to me, anyway). But we did see good flights of some of the coastal/marsh skippers — Dion, Delaware, Aaron’s, Broad-winged — and some of the western MD specialties, including Long Dash, Baltimore Checkerspot, and Harris’ Checkerspot. Horace’s Duskwing is also out in rather substantial numbers, in many places more common than Wild Indigo Duskywing!
In somewhat related news, though, Hackberry Emperor has been added to the list of butterflies known to occur in Wicomico Co MD (Tawny is still MIA there). Check it out in the “recent photos” collection of the Maryland Biodiversity Project, https://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/viewThumbnails.php?recent=1
Otherwise, it’s the usual suspects, but a good mix of them. All the expected swallowtails are flying — Black, Pipevine, Spicebush, Zebra, Eastern Tiger — only Giant Swallowtail is yet to be reported for the season.
Blues and coppers are normally limited this time of year to Eastern Tailed-blue (in low numbers this season), Summer Azure in relative abundance, lingering Appalachian Azure, and a few new-brood American Copper. Bronze Copper has not been reported yet this season locally but did make the NJ list this week so ought to be out in Delmarva. Hairstreaks include dwindling numbers of Banded and Striped, a few Red-banded and Gray, and some very nice Coral Hairstreaks in ones and twos. I’m willing to bet good money that Bog Copper is flying in the cranberry bogs of Garrett Co and adjacent WV; hoping to check on it this weekend.
Among the brushfoots we’re still missing Common Wood Nymph, but Little Wood Satyr is on the wing. Pearly-eyes and Appalachian Browns were missing this week. I may have missed it but still haven’t had a report this season of Carolina Satyr. Viceroy and Red-spotted Purple are on the wing, as are both Emperors, Hackberry and Tawny. Fritillaries are about to stage their annual takeover, with Great Spangled, Meadow and Variegated well represented. Dianas (males only so far) are likely out along their preferred dirt lanes in Appalachia, and if you haven’t gone yet, the Regal Fritillaries at the Ft. Indiantown Gap (PA) open house next weekend and following are not to be missed. Our western MD fritillaries are probably just emerging, Atlantis and Aphrodite; Atlantis reports have come in from WV. Silver-bordered Fritillary dropped off the list this week. Common Buckeye is, well, common right now. American Snouts are also picking up this week. Harris’ Checkerspot was recorded in a couple of locations. Baltimore Checkerspot was seen in one location not yet reported this year. Pearl Crescents are the go-to checkerspot-ish butterfly normally on the wing, now but it’s had a rather slow flight this generation as well.
Pierids continue to disappoint. Nothing much from the migratory species this week, Little Yellow and Cloudless Sulphur. Pink-edged Sulphur is still flying strong in the bogs in WV (Canaan Valley and Spruce Knob are the go-to locales for this specialty). A few Sleepy Oranges have been reported, but not a good early flight. Small (Cabbage) Whites are around most everywhere but not in great numbers.
Skippers include the afore-mentioned strong flight of Horace’s Duskywing, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Dreamy Duskywing is still flying in a couple of western MD locations. Loads of grass skippers; only Sachem seems to be in short supply although Hobomok and Zabulon are fading fast. Dun Skipper and Little Glassywing are especially abundant, with Crossline a close third. Around the coastal marshes, we’ve had reports of Aaron’s, Broad-winged, Delaware, and Dion; Salt Marsh is somewhat scarce this season. Indian Skipper and Long Dash reports came in from the mountains, and I suspect that Black Dash is flying there as well. Mulberry Wing was reported from NJ, perhaps it will show up on the western Montgomery Co (MD) count this weekend. Dotted Skipper also showed up this week on the NJ rolls. Essex (European) Skipper was reported from MD.
Notable Nectar: To milkweeds and thistles this week add knapweeds coming into flower. Devil’s walking stick is breaking bud and will be the premier hairstreak magnet when it blooms.
Tropical Storm Cindy will make the early part of the weekend a wet one, bad news for the western Montgomery Co count, already postponed once from last weekend. The good news is that it may blow through quickly and leave a good chunk of Saturday decently clear. There’s also a Saturday walk scheduled at Tinicum NWR just outside Philadelphia; if this is on your radar screen you’d probably best contact the leader to make sure it’s still happening. Also slated for Saturday is the Eastern Frederick Co/western Carroll Co (MD) count. If you kick something up in the deluge, or venture out after the rains (Sunday and Monday promise to be excellent weather for butterflies), you can leave your sightings as a comment here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or by posting to Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.