This is the time of year we’re accustomed to out-of-range shorebirds and waders; but Palamedes Swallowtail?? This pristine Palamedes showed up in a suburban garden in the Sparrows Point quad of MD, near Baltimore, well away from its very restricted range in MD at the far southern tip of Delmarva. The plump and very crisp butterfly suggests it eclosed somewhere near Gale Janiszewski’s garden in Edgemere, but beyond that we’ll probably have to just scratch our heads.
As far as other swallowtails are concerned, there’s been a slight but welcome uptick in Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in this last brood of the summer, and there are still quite a few Zebra Swallowtails hanging around. We may actually get a very occasional partial fourth brood out of these this year, given that the abundant rains have kept pawpaw leaves relatively green and pliable. Fresh Pipevine Swallowtails are flying, and there are decent numbers of Black Swallowtails on the wing, especially on the Eastern Shore. Spicebush has been rather sparse here at the end of the season. No Giant Swallowtail reports this week. [UPDATE: Giant Swallowtail was observed in PA last week]
The other high note this week comes from Howard Co MD and the regional FOY Clouded Skipper for the season. Ocola Skippers were again widely reported, along with a decided upswing in Sachem and Zabulon Skippers. Salt Marsh Skipper is flying now and should be looked for in brackish or salt marshes, where they like marsh fleabane and goldenrods for nectar. The unusual population boom of Brazilian Skippers continues on Cape May, where they’ve apparently managed to stage a full, locally produced second brood.
The lycaenid of the week was a tattered rag of a Banded Hairstreak in WV last week. White M should be flying but there have been no reports. Summer Azure, Gray Hairstreak, Eastern-tailed Blue, and Red-banded Hairstreak round out the blues and hairstreaks; no reports this week of either of the coppers. No sightings either of Harvester. [UPDATE: While it was missed at the time, a Great Purple Hairstreak showed up in a picture of other butterflies taken last week on Joe-pye weed along New Bridge Road near Vienna — FOY sighting regionally of this hairstreak]
Fritillary numbers are down, especially Great Spangled, although Variegated Fritillaries are common but not abundant. A ragged male Diana was reported from WV. In fact, few of the migratory brushfoots — Snout, Red Admiral, Ladies, Buckeyes — have reached anything like their normal late summer population explosions. All are seen regularly but haven’t been especially common. Viceroy and Red-spotted Purple are still out. This week brought sightings of a very fresh Mourning Cloak — another 2018 scarcity — as well as good numbers of Eastern Commas and Question Marks.
A few more Cloudless Sulphurs made observers’ lists this week, along with small pockets of Sleepy Orange.
NECTAR NOTES: In addition to the afore-mentioned marsh fleabane and goldenrods, there’s a lot of action this week on Joe-pye and ironweed, and the other traditional bonesets and thoroughworts are coming in to their own (the latter is especially popular with day-flying moths for some reason). Blue mistflower and its garden ageratum cousins are pulling in butterflies, as are early asters. Ocolas especially are fond of tall perennial sunflowers of various stripes. This time of year, one is more likely to find anglewings and cloaks on windfall apples, pears, and pawpaws than on traditional nectar.
CALENDAR NOTES: There are butterfly walks coming up next weekend at Soldiers Delight (Owings Mills MD) and Lake Elkhorn (Columbia MD); see the master Leplog calendar for details.
SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING: You would have to go to 2017 for as nice a field day on the weekend as we are predicted to have tomorrow. If you get out to enjoy it, share any butterfly observations with us by leaving a commenting on this post here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or by posting to Google Groups at MDLepsOdes.