Butterfly Field Forecast for the Week of 2017 July 15


Mating Black Dash skippers in Finzel Swamp, MD [2017 July 11, photo by Monica]

It’s time to start keeping an eye out for southern migrants, especially skippers, and 2017’s FOY Long-tailed Skipper showed up this week in Northern VA.  Fiery Skippers continue to be seen occasionally, while to our south in the Carolinas Whirlabouts seem to be having a good northward push already so perhaps this will be our year for this accidental species.

Elsewise, I suspect the torrid temps of the past week have kept most of us indoors, although intrepid butterfliers from PA visited Finzel Swamp in Allegany/Garrett Cos. and had good numbers of Black Dash among other more expected skippers (Black Dash was also flying in western Garrett along the WV border).  Horace’s continues to be the dominant duskywing out; Wild Indigo Duskywing apparently is having a rather poor summer showing all ’round.  More Hayhurst’s Scallopwing reports trickled in.  Several sightings of Delaware Skipper from the western counties were noted.  Also of interest was some discussion this week about Dion Skippers in PA, which apparently are showing up well into the northern tier in freshwater marsh and swamp habitat far, far from the coast, and thus well out of their expected habitat.  Sachem seems to be recovering somewhat from a lackluster early brood.

All the greater fritillaries are on the wing — Great Spangled, Aphrodite, Atalantis, and Diana in the mountains.    Low numbers of Variegated Fritillaries this summer, but LepLog gets reports every week.  Common Wood Nymph has hit its probable peak locally (and we’re still looking for reports of this species from salt marsh habitat on the Eastern Shore — please share!).  Viceroys have been hard to come by.  Monarch singletons were reported widely this week.  Appalachian Brown seems pretty common this season in the appropriate habitats. Pearl Crescents are flying in generally low numbers.

From Delmarva come recent reports of King’s Hairstreak and Great Purple Hairstreak on the wing.  Bog Coppers are flying in cranberry bogs in western MD and WV.  American Copper is out in a new brood, as is Olive (Juniper) Hairstreak.  Gray Hairstreak is again the dominant hairstreak, while Summer Azure and Eastern Tailed-blue are also out.

Swallowtails this week included fresh Black, Zebra and Palamedes (the latter in the Hickory Point Cypress Swamp).  Tattered Spicebush Swallowtails are hanging on (fresh ones of this species due soon) and Pipevine Swallowtails are also fresh (folks in downtown DC can see this species in numbers around the Smithsonian Castle, where they feed on the exotic pipevines in the gardens there).  Giant Swallowtail remains AWOL.

One Checkered White report came in, but that’s the only interesting pierid on the list this week.  No further reports of Cloudless Sulphur or Sleepy Orange.  No Little Yellows yet this year.

And the Northern Metalmark show is in full swing in Green Ridge State Forest.  Just check out stands of blooming woodland sunflowers.

Notable Nectar:  As noted above, the perennial sunflowers are coming into bloom along with similar composites like black-eyed susan; they’ll be good nectar sources through early fall.  Early goldenrods are already out.  Garden liatris (blazing-star) is blooming; it’s usually earlier than our native species but no less attractive to butterflies, especially skippers.  Swamp milkweed is reaching peak (it blooms later, usually, than common), and early Joe-pye weed and ironweed are opening now.

Looks like we’ll get a break from the double-digit heat index readings this weekend.  If you get out and about looking for butterflies, 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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2 Responses to Butterfly Field Forecast for the Week of 2017 July 15

  1. Linda Hunt says:

    Rick, we have had 20+ Sleepy Orange plus at least 2 Cloudless Sulphur at Robinson Nature Center in Howard County for this past week. Also at least one all week in my home garden in Columbia. Females have been busy laying eggs on MD Senna. Also multiple Howard County gardeners report Monarch and Pipevine Swallowtail eggs, cats and chrysalises. Other than that just a bunch of Sachem with small numbers of expected species. Linda Hunt

  2. Mary Alexander says:

    Spent a lovely Saturday at Sky Meadows State Park with lots of sightings, including:
    cabbage white
    clouded sulphur
    zebra swallowtail — a few
    black swallowtail – 2
    tiger swallowtail – common
    spicebush swallowtail – numerous
    gray hairstreak – 1 on clover
    eastern tailed blue – numerous
    summer azure – 2 (in forest, quite large)
    great spangled fritillary – 2
    pearl crescent (1 maybe)
    common buckeye – 1
    red-spotted purple – common
    hackberry emperor – 3
    tawny emperor – 1
    monarch – 3
    silver spotted skipper – common
    — duskywing – 1
    Ironweed and black-eyed susans in full bloom, and thistle ending.

    Mary Alexander
    Alexandria, VA

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