Again, not a great deal to report this week in the way of new sightings except for the first sightings of the summer Satyrium hairstreaks, in this case Banded Hairstreak in Lansdale PA, just north of Philly. So where are they in MD and VA? Milkweed and dogbane are reaching peak bloom on the Eastern Shore and much of the Piedmont.
Otherwise diversity is rather high — many diverse habitats can produce a 20-25 species count rather easily, including all the first brood grass skippers, many of the nymphalids, and all the swallowtails. But we are seeing now mostly the typical summer butterflies, and unless you are willing to go to unique habitats what you see is what you’ll be getting for a while. More Appalachian Browns and Hobomok Skippers (somewhat uncommon this season) were among the more interesting finds of the week.
Participants on a field trip for a Natural History Field Studies class at Lilypons Water Gardens (Frederick Co MD) last weekend scored well, with fresh second-generation Meadow Fritillaries, Great Spangled Fritillary, both emperors, and several Viceroys. The Silvery Checkerspot irruption was in evidence there as well, as were good numbers of both Clouded and Orange Sulphurs. There was even a probable Sleepy Orange fly-by, which would have made the highlights list above but we didn’t get good diagnostic looks. The class visits Eastern Neck NWR tomorrow.
A scouting trip for another class took me to an isolated patch of milkweed in full bloom in the middle of a soybean desert at Chapel Point State Park in Charles Co MD on Sunday; only about 100 plants but it was loaded with Eastern Tiger Swallowtails (and in fact dark form females outnumbered traditional yellow), both American and Painted Ladies, Gray Hairstreak, Great Spangled Fritillary, Orange Sulphurs, Summer Azures, Eastern Tailed-blues, Zebra Swallowtails, Spicebush Swallowtails, a Black Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purples, a Southern Broken-dash, a Broad-winged Skipper, a horde of Silver-spotted Skippers, Variegated Fritillaries, Common Buckeyes, and Least Skippers.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Now that we know Satyrium hairstreaks are emerging: Coral, Banded, Striped, Edwards’ should be on your hunt list, while Acadian and Hickory may take some serious forays to find. Indian Skipper is the next univoltine skipper species up. And wet grasslands of the right type should now be holding Baltimore Checkerspot, Harris’ Checkerspot, and Silver-bordered Fritillary. Any of the migratory sulphurs could show up between now and frost: Sleepy Orange, Little Yellow (absent for the past couple of years), Dainty Sulphur (absent for several years after a phenomenal irruption). Checkered White is almost certainly out there too, but masquerading as a common Small (Cabbage) White.
SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING: The half glass full part of me says Saturday will be very nice for butterflies; the glass half empty says Sunday won’t be so great. And the week ahead looks hot and unsettled. But if you should find yourself with notable sightings, share them here for the next Forecast here at https://leplog.wordpress.com/ or by posting to local listservs like MDLepsOdes.