Mid-Atlantic Butterfly Field Forecast for the Week of 2019 July 13

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Bronze Copper from Dorchester Co near Vienna MD, posing nicely on swamp milkweed [2019 July 6, photo by Josh Emm]

HIGHLIGHTS:  Gulf Fritillary, Bronze Copper, Clouded Skipper

The big FOY this week was sighting (and diagnostic photos) of a pristine Gulf Fritillary in the restored meadow at the US National Arboretum in DC.  We occasionally see this butterfly in the mid-Atlantic as a fall migrant, or in conjunction with peak travel to and from the Southeast, but this represents an early season observation that does not appear to be associated with any weather phenomena.

Otherwise, the local listservs have been rather quiescent, whether because of the hot weather, torrential rains, or out-of-town travel.  But there are tantalizing suggestions from not too far south of the mid-Atlantic that an interesting late summer/early fall season may be shaping up.

One such is the FOY Clouded Skipper in Loudon Co. this week that leads the list of skippers. It’s a bit early in the season for this normally late-summer species, and this one already was showing some wear, but there have been reports of good numbers already in states to our south.  Horace’s Duskywings are flying well across our region; by contrast, Wild Indigo Duskywing has had a meager showing so far as a second brood with only a couple reports recently.  Sachem numbers are really picking up in the past few days region-wide.  A corresponding peak in other grass skippers isn’t evident yet, except that Fiery Skipper numbers are trending up.

Bronze Copper was confirmed on the MD eastern shore this past week.  Fresh Juniper Hairstreaks are flying in their second brood in multiple locations.  We’re in a little bit of a lull between Red-banded and Gray Hairstreak flights, with a mix of mostly tattered and a few fresh-looking individuals.  Same with Summer Azure and Eastern Tailed-blue in most locations regionally; these are more or less “rolling” broods with no clear stops and starts until frost.

American Snouts reports have been widespread, some in high numbers.  Great Spangled Fritillary is the only greater fritillary reported this week.  Crescents reported were almost certainly all Pearl at this point, and in good numbers.

The hoped-for great push of Cloudless Sulphur from the south still hasn’t materialized over most of the area, although they were significantly more common this past week than they have been on the Eastern Shore of MD/DE.  Numerous reports of Sleepy Orange were received this week.

CALENDAR:  July 20 marks the NABA count for the John Heinz NWR near Philadelphia; July 27 is the count at Clifton Institute in Warrenton VA.  Details on the LepLog calendar.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ocola Skipper numbers are building early and high in the Carolinas so we should be seeing them shortly.  King’s Hairstreak is undoubtedly flying in its limited range, dictated by the northern limits and patchy distribution of horse sugar (aka sweetleaf, Symplocus tinctoria) the larval host plant. So far observers have dipped on seeing it.  We should probably be watching now for southern migrants like Great Southern White, Little Yellow, and Long-tailed Skippers.  It does not appear that this will be a Brazilian Skipper year like 2018 but keep an eye out for leaf damage on cannas, usually the first sign of this tropical skipper’s presence.

SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING:  After a soggy week that probably knocked down many caterpillar populations and not a few adults, the weekend is looking sunny but hot.  Let us know for the next Forecast if you see anything of note by posting here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or by posting to local listservs like MDLepsOdes.

AND REMEMBER:  If I missed a notable sighting, leave a note on this post on LepLog and I can update the posting online!

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