Southern Cloudywing, one of four in the Glendening Preserve butterfly garden at Jug Bay [2018 July 29, photo by REB]
Tom Stock and I headed out midday yesterday to check on the Dion Skipper populations at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in DC, and in our usual optimistic high spirits that we might find Brazilian Skippers on (what in the past have been) the extensive canna plantings at KAG.
Our first note of ugly reality came when the parking lot and adjacent streets were packed with cars. Mind you, the Lotus Festival was LAST weekend in the pouring monsoon; apparently everyone who had planned to come then came yesterday. The gardens looked like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
The second dash of our hopes came in looking at the canna bed in the parking lot. Scrawny, scraggly and only a few in bloom. A few lantanas in the bed were struggling to bloom, but even there we couldn’t find a single butterfly. In the gardens proper, we were met by even more sparsely populated canna beds — and almost no butterflies whatsover, despite abundant lantana, pickerelweed, swamp milkweed, and ironweed, all in peak bloom. The canna situation I think I can account for — like me, I suspect the KAG staff leave cannas in the ground over winter in this hardiness zone and they are reliably perennial. Not this year. I lost every one of the cannas I left in the soil this year; my only two remaining cannonshot cannas (the butterfly favorite) came up from seed. The ONLY butterfly of note in KAG was a Viceroy.
Our best sighting was not a butterfly, actually; it was a Northern Water Snake chowing down on a frog in full view of the (blissfully ignorant) masses of plein air artists painting waterlilies.
So we headed on down the Patuxent Corridor to Jug Bay’s Glendening Preserve, which hosts one of the best butterfly gardens in the region. As soon as we stepped out of the car we saw Common Checkered-skippers, an FOY for both of us. As we moved around the field perimeters (the main gate is closed on Sundays, for some inane reason; you have to use the gate just down the road and walk around the field back to the butterfly garden) to the house and garden, we began picking up good butterfly diversity, and by the time we got to the butterfly garden we were pretty sure we’d see some good species.
Common Checkered-skipper, Glendening Preserve at Jug Bay Sanctuary, Anne Arundel Co [2018 July 29, photo by REB]
Sleepy Oranges were all over the senna in the garden, as they are every summer. Our FOY Southern Broken-dashes were common, as were Sachem, but the best butterflies in the garden were the several Southern Cloudywings. And I had my FOY American Copper on the way out.
Southern Broken-dash, among the more common butterflies at Glendening Preserve today [2018 July 29, photo by REB]
American Copper, Glendening Preserve, Jug Bay Sanctuary, Anne Arundel Co. [2018 July 29, photo by REB]
While we hoped for Ocola Skipper (they’ve been early in several places in the mid-Atlantic already), we didn’t see any. But more puzzling is the continued absence of Cloudless Sulphur, which seems to have crashed all down the East Coast.
Equally important as the FOYs was the discovery of a new LepLunch location with the catchy name of Rick’s NC BBQ less than a mile away along the service road to Glendening. We both agreed the pulled pork sandwiches we had were among the best we’d ever tasted (and that’s saying something); I picked up smoked sausages for lunch today (note to self–Rick’s will have a whole-hog pig-pickin’ August 25!)
Clever name, this! Caught our attention ….
We finished up the day back in College Park along Northeast Branch to get Tom on a Silvery Checkerspot so he wouldn’t be embarrassed by saying he’d missed out on this species during its major irruption, which we did in short order.
Silvery Checkerspot, a bit worn, from along Northeast Branch in College Park, MD [2018 July 29, photo by REB]
Tom’s list from Glendening is below:
Zebra Swallowtail (5)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (3)
Spicebush Swallowtail (1)
Cabbage White (6)
Orange Sulphur (common)
Sleepy Orange (8)
American Copper (1)
Eastern Tailed Blue (common)
Variegated Fritillary (7)
Great Spangled Fritillary (4)
Pearl Crescent (2)
Question Mark (1)
Common Buckeye (2)
Red-spotted Purple (1)
Silver-spotted Skipper (common)
Southern Cloudywing (4)
Horace’s Duskywing (1)
Wild Indigo Duskywing (4)
Common Checkered-Skipper (2)
Least Skipper (3)
Peck’s Skipper (7)
Tawny-edged Skipper (4)
Southern Broken-Dash (common)