Butterfly Field Forecast for Week of 2017 July 22

silvery checkerspot CP

One of the new brood of Silvery Checkerspots appearing a bit bedraggled after a heavy cloudburst one morning in my College Park (MD) yard [2017 July 18, photo by REB]

No sooner had the electrons fired on last week’s Forecast than a dozen or so sightings came in for Sleepy Orange and Cloudless Sulphur in varied locations across the area, mostly in the vicinity of senna or partridge pea and often ovipositing (suggesting a last brood for us in early fall).  That just serves to remind me to remind you to PLEASE send in your sightings so that the rest of us can benefit from your great sightings!

Also in the pierid pile was a spate of Checkered White sightings from southern New Jersey, where they’re apparently flying well.  Still zero Little Yellows in the region (and of course like last week I’ll probably get a raft of sightings as soon as this goes out!).

Otherwise, a rather slow week, likely because of the excessive heat and humidity that kept many of us indoors.  Few lycaenids came up in the sightings; Bog Copper is flying on both sides of the MD/WV border in some of the more remote bogs where they have been reported before.  American Copper is still flying, as is Olive (Juniper) Hairstreak.   Couple of reports of Gray Hairstreak; along with the expected tail end of Summer Azure’s flight and Eastern Tailed-blue.

Better luck with brushfoots; both Hackberry and Tawny Emperors were widely reported, even in areas where they are seldom seen, so a pretty good flight apparently is underway.  American Snout is also on the wing near hackberry trees (the three share this common host).  Three greater fritillaries made the list this week from western MD, Great Spangled, Atlantis, and Aphrodite; female Dianas have now joined the males along the Appalachian Spine in VA.  Variegated Fritillaries numbers are inching up, possibly augmented by southern migrants.  Common Buckeye is beginning to live up to its name; numbers are building too.  There’s little evidence so far for southward Monarch migration.  After the hot spell subsides, we should begin seeing anglewings destined to overwinter — Comma, Question Mark, Mourning Cloak.  They’re aestivating through these hot summer dog days.  No local reports of Viceroy or Red-spotted Purple this week, but they are probably flying in low numbers.  A new brood of Silvery Checkerspots is just emerging, spurred on most likely by the recent cloudbursts.  Still very low numbers of Pearl Crescents area-wide.

Skipper-wise, the trending skipper is Sachem, which had a terrible early flight but is making up for it in spades.  Last week was mostly males; this week the females are out, too.  Coastal skippers are doing well:  Dion, Delaware, Aaron’s, Salt Marsh and especially Broad-winged were widely reported, often in good numbers.  Oddly absent where they should be common this time of season is Common Checkered-skipper.  Fiery Skippers seem to have crashed already but should be arriving as new migrants shortly, perhaps even as locally hatched and rear specimens from earlier migrations.  Duskywing numbers have dropped rather precipitously from the previous two Forecasts.

It seems Pipevine Swallowtails were everywhere this week, many of them fresh.  At least a dozen were chasing around the Smithsonian Castle grounds on a recent lunchtime walk on the Mall, where the extensive lantana plantings were drawing in a number of nectaring butterflies. A fresh Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was on the Indian-shot canna in the yard this morning.

It’s still not too late to see 2017 Northern Metalmarks along the sunflower-studded shoulders of sunny Green Ridge State Forest roads.

Notable Nectar:  Several species of monarda (bee balm) are at peak this week; so are a couple kinds of mountain mint (Pycnanthemum).  Early bonesets — Joe-Pye weed, thoroughwort, snakeroot — are beginning to flower, as is ironweed.  Where they were cut earlier and if they got some of the rain showers that moved across the region over the past week, clovers are putting on another show that attracts lots of grass skippers especially.  Hempvine (Mikania) is an often-overlooked nectar source for blues and skippers as well as a host of Dipteran and Hymenopteran pollinators.

From Linda Hunt comes this announcement of a butterfly walk tomorrow: Join us on 7/22, Saturday, 10:00 – 1:00 for what promises to be a great Butterfly Walk at Mt. Pleasant/Howard County Conservancy. Leaders: Kevin and Karen Heffernan & Linda Hunt. Mowed grass paths, facilities available.  Bring lots of water and protect against sun and insects.  Cancelled if raining.  We will meet in the parking area.  In addition to the Hackberry Emperor, Kevin and Karen saw 27 other species last weekend.  Also Juniper Hairstreak are visiting the garden plots again, and the American Copper are in the formal garden.  See list below.  Pipevine Swallowtail, Cloudless Sulphur and Sleepy Orange are also possible.  We are starting early to avoid the afternoon heat.  Email Linda Hunt: raven10322@hotmail.com if you plan to come. 

The weekend looks like a real scorcher, puntuated occasionally by pop-up thunderstorms — not the best butterfly watching water. But if you brave the heat,  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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3 Responses to Butterfly Field Forecast for Week of 2017 July 22

  1. Jeff Cagle says:

    Seen in my yard today (Frederick Co):

    Sachem 20+, male/female mix
    Peck’s Skipper, very fresh 10+, mostly male
    Zabulon Skipper, male 1
    Least Skipper 2
    Silver-Spotted Skipper 4
    Eastern Tailed Blue 8ish, male/female mix
    Common Buckeye 2
    Orange Sulfur 1
    Clouded Sulfur (*very* yellow) 2
    Albino form Orange/Clouded 1

    The skippers are addicted to Chickory flowers which have taken over the hillside.

  2. Jeff Cagle says:

    My daughter, a friend, and I went hiking in Garrett State Forest on the green trail from Cranesville Rd (39.488681, -79.441152) down to Harrington Manor (39.459066, -79.445959). This was a casual hike, so butterfly observations were “casual”.

    Azure 6
    Eastern Tailed Blue 1
    UID possible Lycaenid 1 (see [1] below)

    Orange Sulfur 1

    Pipevine Swallowtail 1
    Eastern Tiger 2 (one dark form)

    Great Spangled Fritillary 8
    Northern Pearly Eye 28 (!! see [2] below)
    Common Wood Nymph 6, including mating pair

    Silver-Spotted Skipper 1
    Dun Skipper 8

    [1] We saw something small and orange puddling on the path. It flew into the woods, but I got a view of the topside. Based on habitat, Pearl Crescent seems likely. But the top view sure did look like a Harvester. I don’t know if that’s even possible in that area.

    [2] Northern PEs seem to becoming much more common recently. I’m wondering whether they might be using Japanese Stilt Grass as host plant? I’ve even seen a couple in my yard.

  3. Jeff Cagle says:

    Forgot date and a sighting: The Garrett Co report above was from 7/18/17. We also saw one Monarch.

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