Finally a sunny weekend in store, even if it comes with sizzling temperatures. Most everything we expect should be out this next week; with last week’s sightings we have few AWOL normal species. Diversity is only part of the picture, however, for many butterflies the numbers are still quite low.
Not so for Variegated Fritillaries, which in some locations are showing a major irruption into clouds of orange kicked up walking through fields. I haven’t heard any reports from Ft. Indiantown Gap and the annual Regal Fritillary tours, but our local greater frits — Great Spangled, Aphrodite, and Atlantis — seem to be having at best a modest flight. Meadow and Silver-bordered Fritillaries were less common this year. The same goes for almost all our other brush-foots. A singleton American Snout made the lists this week. Silvery Checkerspots bucked the trend in some areas but seem to have gone bust already. Poor year for Baltimore Checkerspots. Among the freshly emerging species is second round for Pearl Crescent; too early to tell what kind of flight this is going to be.
Hairstreaks are out, but not abundant. Edwards’ Hairstreak has not been reported yet this year (and the year grows late); same with first brood Great Purple Hairstreak. Coppers — both American and Bronze — have been pretty much nonexistent. I’ll be hunting Great Purple Hairstreak, Bronze Copper, and King’s Hairstreak (and Palamedes Swallowtail) on the Eastern Shore this weekend as I scout for an upcoming ANS Foray. Even Eastern Tailed-blues are hard to come by.
Second broods of whites and sulphurs are down too; only Cabbage (Small) White seems to be in relatively normal numbers this year.
Of the swallowtails, only Palamedes has yet to be reported this summer, although the Sky Meadows Giant Swallowtail remains the only sighting of that species regionally.
Skipper diversity benefited this week by sightings of Mulberry Wing and Northern Broken-dash. Oddly missing has been Sachem. Lots of the coastal and wetland skippers ought to be flying now. Northern Cloudywings from the first brood are quite tattered; we should be seeing Wild Indigo and Horace’s Duskywing in second broods shortly. A probable, but very worn, Pepper and Salt Skipper was reported from lower Garrett Co. MD.
NECTAR NOTES: The main event of course is still milkweed in all its variations, but buttonbush (Cephalanthus) is the draw in coastal areas this week. In wet and coastal areas pickerelweed is also pulling in pollinators, especially Broad-winged Skippers. Where fields were mown, red and white clover is having another go at blooming and lots of grass skippers and lycaenids find them a big draw. Pycnanthemum (mountain mint) and its close relative Monarda (various bee balms) do a terrific job of bringing in butterflies this time of year too.
UPCOMING COUNTS: Upcoming counts include eastern Frederick and western Carroll Cos., MD (June 30), Occoquan Bay, VA (June 30), Carroll Co., MD (Jul 4), Shenandoah NP, VA (July 6), and Reston, VA (July 6). See details in the LepLog master calendar from the top navigation on the home page.
With all the upcoming counts there should be plenty of fodder for the next two Forecasts! Let us know what you see if you join any of these counts or head out on your own at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or by posting to Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.