As I look out my office window this afternoon, I think I see a premonition of weather to come for the weekend, which again is likely to be far from ideal butterflying weather. Good thing so many of us were out in the field last weekend!
And as predicted the spike in summer butterflies materialized with the sunshine, led by the emergence of many FOY hairstreaks, including Coral, Banded, Striped, and Oak (in NJ). In part this is a reflection of peak bloom of their preferred nectar hosts, milkweeds (dogbane, common, swamp, butterflyweed), and mints (mountain mint in particular). But also look for them on blooming sumac. Few other lycaenids are on the wing now; no coppers or azures other than Summer Azure were tagged this week. Eastern Tailed-blue is flying but in sparse numbers.
Anglewings came out with a vengeance over the weekend, including very fresh Gray Comma and many Eastern Commas. Other nymphalids also rocked the weekend, such as fresh Baltimore Checkerspots and the Great Fritillaries trifecta in Garrett Co.: Aphrodite, Atlantis, and Great Spangled. Meadow Fritillary and Silver-bordered Fritillary are also flying, the latter is smaller numbers than most years, apparently. Little Wood Satyr borders on abundant in some locations; missing so far this year is Common Wood Nymph. Common Ringlets have emerged. Both of our local emperors were noted this past week, Hackberry and Tawny. Red-spotted Purple and Viceroy continue; fresh Red Admirals were reported. A few sightings of Common Buckeye also trickled in, as well as singleton sightings of Monarch. A new population of Harris’ Checkerspot with individuals ranging in wear from fresh to ragged was logged in western MD. Silvery Checkerspot is peaking in the western counties and already beginning to drop off in Piedmont locations. Northern Crescents in Garrett Co. were few and quite worn.
Pink-edged Sulphur (in WV) topped the list of interesting whites and sulphurs this week.
Swallowtail sightings of the past week include Zebra, Black, Spicebush, and Pipevine. A Giant Swallowtail was picked up on the Sky Meadows (VA) count.
Skippers were well represented, with Salt Marsh Skipper in MD and NJ and Two-spotted Skipper in NJ included in the week’s sightings. Hoary Edge in MD and a quite probable (but worn) Pepper and Salt Skipper in Garrett Co MD rounded out the list of new or very interesting skipper species reported this week. Long Dash was also flying well; Zabulon and Hobomok numbers have peaked and many individuals are already tattered and worn.
BUTTERFLY COUNTS scheduled in the next two weeks include Western Montgomery Co. (rescheduled to Sunday owing to weather), Island Ford (VA), and eastern Frederick/western Carroll (MD). See the master LepLog calendar for details: https://leplog.wordpress.com/2018-field-trip-and-annual-count-calendar/
[Update: And sure as the sun rises, someone will have seen one of the butterflies that is AWOL on the Forecast. Common Wood Nymph is out, as seen and photographed June 16 by Shirley Devan near Lightfoot VA at the Yorktown Battlefield: