Without question the best butterfly sighting of the week came from the Silver Spring back yard of Tom Stock, an immaculate vagrant (presumably) Gulf Fritillary. This is a rare but occasional visitor from the Gulf states, and if it arrives early enough in the season can actually initiate a one- or two-generation breeding spurt (on passionflower, increasingly common in gardens and nurseries) before they all expire with the first hard freeze. Far as I can tell the next closest Gulf Fritillary sighting over the past week was in the Carolinas along the coast (also a Tom Stock sighting!).
Otherwise it’s pretty much business as usual in the middle of August, peak time for grass skippers. Sachem is everywhere; so is Silver-spotted Skipper. Both Hayhurst’s Scallopwing and Common Sootywing were notable sightings, and a fresh brood of Common Checkered-skipper is flying. Not so many reports of coastal or salt marsh skippers, possibly because many of our field observers were working the Howard Co Bioblitz over the weekend. Wild Indigo Duskywings in a fresh (and probably final) brood are again the dominant duskywing; Horace’s are becoming hard to come by. A few more Ocolas showed up across the region. Dion Skipper repeated its occurrence at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in DC.
Numbers of Sleepy Orange and Cloudless Sulphurs are popping up, doubtless some of them having started as eggs on partridge pea or senna earlier in the season from early migrants. Little Yellow is still very sporadic. No additional Checkered Whites have been reported.
As such things go, this is the final big push of hairstreaks for the season with White M, Olive (Juniper), Red-banded, and Gray (by far the most common) reports coming in this week. No Great Purple Hairstreaks have been reported in our region yet this season. American Copper sightings were relatively common, but no Bronze Coppers. The last blues standing for the season are Summer Azure (still some faded females around) and Eastern Tailed-blue.
As with last week, the expected swallowtails are all still on the wing, but Giant Swallowtail — while having another good flight year in New England — is absent from the mid-Atlantic.
Painted Ladies are still everywhere, with a few reports of American Lady thrown in. Common Buckeye numbers continue to build, and Variegated Fritillaries are more numerous as well. Satyr numbers are dwindling except for Common Wood Nymph, which has seen a spike of LepLog sightings this week.
Notable Nectar: Mistflower, various bonesets, and Joe-Pye are among the top producers of nectaring butterflies in the field this week. In gardens, Tall/Brazilian Verbena (V. bonariensis and congeners) is a magnet for skippers, as are zinnias, torchflower, and the old standby, butterfly bush. If you plan to acquire a buddleia (butterfly bush) for your yard or garden, spend some time at the local nursery watching what butterflies are coming to which varieties — the various cultivars differ markedly in their attractiveness to butterflies. Mine right now are festooned with Silver-spotted Skippers, Sachems, and Painted Ladies.
While all eyes will be on the eclipse Monday (skies permitting), the weekend looks decent for butterfly watching. If you get out and see anything interesting, let us know here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or by posting to Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.