There were some good butterflies to be found for folks who braved the heat wave that will continue through this weekend and into next week.
Top of the list was Early Hairstreak, a worn second brood individual of which was spotted in Shenandoah NP. Among other hairstreaks and blues, there’s something of a lull in Eastern Tailed-blue in the Piedmont but it and Summer Azure are still going strong in the mountains, while fresh White M Hairstreak was seen on the MD Eastern Shore. Fresh Juniper Hairstreaks were also out and about.
Another topline from the week’s observations is big population buildups of Silvery Checkerspots (at least in some locations, like the North Tract of Patuxent Wildlife Refuge) and Red-spotted Purples. A significant movement of Red Admirals was reported from the coast. And the Shenandoah NP annual count tallied record high counts of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Common Buckeyes. Good numbers of sightings of Snouts and both Hackberry and Tawny Emperors also came in to LepLog. A fresh brood of Pearl Crescents is on the wing now. There’s a reversal of abundance currently in play with Ladies; Painted Lady is more common in reports this week than American Lady. More fresh Meadow Fritillaries emerged this week; Variegated Fritillary remains common. Another grassland specialist, Common Wood Nymph, seems to be on track for a very good season. Fresh Northern Pearly-eyes were recorded this week, as were the next generation of Appalachian Browns.
Monarchs, both adults and caterpillars, seem more common this year than in recent memory at this point in the summer.
Cabbage (Small) Whites have rebounded from low spring numbers. Sleepy Oranges can be common near their host plants, and the rather low numbers of Cloudless Sulphurs reported were also mostly associated with senna plantings.
In addition to the large flight of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a third brood of Zebra Swallowtails is emerging now.
The area FOY Ocola Skippers were noted in northern VA and MD. Fiery Skipper, Peck’s Skipper, and Sachem numbers are way up across the region, and in some areas Silver-spotted Skippers are almost ubiquitous. Least Skipper is having a very good year. It’s also a really good summer for Horace’s Duskywing, outnumbering the usually more common Wild Indigo Duskywing by something like 4:1 in many places. A new batch of Common Sootywings is flying.
There are some head-scratchers, too. Great Spangled Fritillary numbers are well down compared with past years. This clearly was a bad year to schedule the Aphrodite Atlas; records of this species and Atlantis Fritillary are few and far between with none this week. Other grass skipper numbers — Crossline, Dun, Tawny-edged , and Little Glassywing — are lagging considerably behind normal numbers. Northern Metalmarks have had a modest to mediocre flight this season; perhaps early season rains drowned or led to disease in the caterpillars, which feed in the dense rosettes of leaves of shale barrens ragwort species.
CALENDAR: The NABA Count at the Heinz NWR near Philadelphia, originally scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed until July 27. The Warrenton/Clifton Institute NABA annual count in VA is also July 27. See the master LepLog calendar for details and contact info. And don’t forget National Moth Week!
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Bog Copper would be a nice report from western MD/WV; we’ve had no reports from there yet. And this is Compton’s Tortoiseshell season; colleagues found them flying in PA recently, and we have occasional records of them in Green Ridge State Forest and a few other MD locations. There don’t appear to be any weather conditions that would favor northward incursions or accidental strays from the Gulf, but it’s always worth checking out major nectar sources that might act like a trap for wandering strays. Great Purple Hairstreaks should also be in the offing. Hayhurst’s Scallopwing has been hard to come by this season but should be flying now
SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING: If you manage to stay out for any length of time in the expected furnace-like conditions this weekend, let us know 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!