Mid-Atlantic Butterfly Field Forecast for the Week of 2018 July 7

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A rare occurrence of Bog Copper sitting still for a portrait for Barry Marts in Cranesville Swamp (MD/WV). [2018 June 30, photo by Barry Marts]

HIGHLIGHTS:  Rare Skipper, Common Sootywing, Harvester, Edwards’ Hairstreak, Appalachian Azure, Hackberry Emperor, Tawny Emperor; Bog Copper, Black Dash. Sachem

Today’s widespread rains followed by what is shaping up to be a glorious weekend seem tailor-made for good butterfly watching.  While the past week (including the mid-week holiday) was certainly sunny, it was also punishingly hot both for butterflies and butterfly counters.

Annual counts and field trips picked up a couple of new butterflies for the season, including Bog Copper in the western counties straddling the MD/WV line.  Other lycaenids made an appearance, too, including the (much delayed) flight of Edwards’ Hairstreak.  A couple of Northern Oak Hairstreak sightings were reported, but all at the far edges of the mid-Atlantic region.   Small numbers of Banded and Striped Hairstreaks trickled in, mostly from area count activities, and a singleton Olive (Juniper) Hairstreak showed up.  Coral Hairstreaks were not reported [actually, Jeff Cagle reminds me after posting that they were seen on the Carroll Co count]; appears they had a slim flight this year. Appalachian Azures in numbers were out in the Catoctins visiting the (late-blooming this year) black cohosh; this is the latest I’ve seen a substantial flight of this species in MD.  They provided an excellent side by side comparison with Summer Azures also ovipositing on the cohosh.  A solo White M Hairstreak was reported from the Catoctins.  Eastern Tailed-blues were seen across the region but in low numbers.  Harvester popped up on the MD Eastern Shore.

Black Dash in some numbers topped the list of skippers this week, followed by additional Mulberry Wings from the Carroll Co (MD) count.  Sachems in small numbers finally made local lists for the season, but nothing like the superabundance we normally see.  Fresh Peck’s are out, as are most of the other expected grass skippers.  In coastal marshes we’re seeing good numbers of Broad-winged Skippers mixed with a few Rare Skippers.  Other skippers included a few sightings of Common Sootywing, which has been hard to come by this year.

This week all but one of the regional fritillaries was on the wing, from Regal Fritillary in their annual show at Ft. Indiantown Gap, to Meadow Fritillary, to Silver-bordered Fritillary, to Variegated (although the big irruption seems to have crashed already or at least be quite sporadic), to the Big Three: Great Spangled, Aphrodite, and Atlantis.  Only Diana is missing from the fritillary roster so far this summer.

Other brush-foots reported this week included both emperors, Hackberry and TawnyCommon Wood Nymph is flying in regional grasslands.  Monarchs were widely reported, although we have a lull in Red-spotted Purples and Viceroys.  A few Red Admirals and American Ladies showed up; two American Snouts were reported.  Fresh anglewings (Comma and Question Mark) as well as Mourning Cloak are now out; these will be the individuals that will hibernate and herald spring for us next season. Baltimore Checkerspot is flying (poor flight so far, it seems).  Little Wood Satyr is between broods; any fresh individuals this week could be from populations that Harry Pavulaan is monitoring as a possibly cryptic/sibling species. Fresh Pearl Crescents are out, again in modest numbers.

Nothing unusual on the whites/sulphurs front; modest numbers of Cabbage (Small) Whites, Clouded Sulphurs, and Orange Sulphurs.  Save a single sighting early in the season, Cloudless Sulphur has not been reported, nor has Sleepy Orange.  And months have passed since the last report of Checkered White.

Swallowtail sightings were equally unremarkable this week; a good flight of hill-topping Zebra Swallowtails seen at High Point in Gambrills SP was the only record of note.  A few fresh Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were listed on local counts this week.

Metalmark Watch:  We’re entering the short flight period of Northern Metalmark in Green Ridge State Forest as the sunflowers along the road shoulders come into bloom.  Hasn’t been reported yet, but keep your eyes peeled for this charismatic little critter as you drive the GRSF back roads.

NECTAR NOTES:  Still an amazing amount of milkweed and dogbane out there.  But other good nectar sources currently in bloom include monardas, mountain mints, and even garden mints; butterfly bush (Buddleia), zinnia, liatris, and tithonia are also good horticultural bets.  Devil’s Walking-stick (aka Hercules Club) is coming into bloom and can sometimes be covered with snouts, swallowtails, and hairstreaks; always worth pulling over and checking out this plant when you see it in bloom.  In the marshes look for pickerel-weed, irresistible to skippers.

UPCOMING COUNTS: Upcoming counts include Reston (VA), John Heinz NWR (PA) and the rescheduled Shenandoah (VA). The MDLepsOdes group will sponsor a Leptrek July 14 to the Covington VA area for Diana Fritillary.  See details in the LepLog master calendar from the top navigation on the home page.

You won’t find much better weather this summer for butterfly observation than this weekend.  Let us know what you see at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or by posting to Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.

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