It appears that 2022 was a pretty good year for folks in MD prospecting for new county records. Thanks to Bill Hubick at the Maryland Biodiversity Project, we now know that 2022 gave Maryland lepsters three new county records, five new month records (observations for a month where there previously had been no sightings), and a whopping 635 new quad records!
The county records are:
Henry’s Elfin (Callophrys henrici) recorded by fm5050 via iNaturalist was new for Baltimore Co. (View)
Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus) recorded by marciarose via iNaturalist was new for Somerset Co. (View)
Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) recorded by Stephanie via iNaturalist was new for Baltimore City (View)
We’re very close to closing out counties for Zebra Swallowtail — only Somerset remains as a Maryland county where Zebra Swallowtail has not officially been reported. Three county ticks remain for Henry’s Elfin, and five counties remain for Long-tailed Skipper.
We should be able to make short work of these in the 2023 season!!
MBP also allows us to see new data records, although it’s hard to know what to make of them since it isn’t always clear if they represent new early or late dates without combing the data more thoroughly. I suspect that our phenology data still reflect more observation effort than they do actual early/late flight dates, but the dataset at MBP is getting so rich that eventually we will probably be able to tease out this information as well. But here they are in the meantime:
Bog Copper (Lycaena epixanthe) recorded by Josh Emm was new for MBP for June. (View)
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) recorded by cwgoldy via iNaturalist was new for MBP for January. (View)
Cherry Gall Azure (Celastrina serotina) recorded by Josh Emm was new for MBP for May. (View)
Dion Skipper (Euphyes dion) recorded by rinwolfe via iNaturalist was new for MBP for August. (View)
Northern Azure (Celastrina lucia) recorded by rborchelt via iNaturalist was new for MBP for April. (View)
Because the list of new quad records is so long, I won’t post it here. But you can find it here to peruse to your heart’s content — and make a plan to do some quadbusting with me in 2023.
As always, we are indebted to the Maryland Biodiversity Project, which has replaced the laborious hand curating of observations each year undertaken by the late Dick Smith. MBP is now the default authority on butterfly phenology and occurrence in Maryland, but it’s only as good as the data *you* contribute. Unfortunately, the tendency is for contributors to populate MBP with photo-documented observations, and that can skew the dataset toward large, photogenic, or unusual species, not to mention butterflies on the wing in the most clement months of the summer! Plus, now that MBP ingests quality records from iNat — which is also biased toward photo documentation — we as a community need to careful not to conflate reported sightings with actual abundance or presence in the field.
It also means we can do more to make MBP, iNat, and other similar sites more robust — like documenting common species, and documenting butterflies across their lifecycles, across their geographic range, and across their flight seasons. Scientifically, those Cabbage White observations are just as valuable as that Great Purple Hairstreak you saw! So let’s take more opportunities to document *all* our species — in MD and elsewhere — in addition to the cool ones. That’s a good 2023 New Year lep resolution.
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