Dear Butterfly Community — Many of us were saddened by the untimely passing of Dick Smith, who curated these pages so I could share them with a broader public, in the summer of 2016. We’re still working on ways to update these records; in the meantime if you have questions or suggestions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The accompanying Maryland and Delaware Butterfly Unknown Status Charts indicate, with the symbol U (for unknown), uncommon to rare species for which I (Richard (Dick) Smith) have received few or no records of occurrence of the species in the indicated counties or cities in the past 15 years. The check mark (✔) indicates that a recent record already exists for a species. The A, S, and X symbols indicate, respectively, as in other lists here, that the species record is due to an Accidental occurrence, a Stray, or that the species is considered to be eXtirpated in the jurisdiction shown. Since butterfly populations are known to be dwindling worldwide, it is important for the support of conservation to keep abreast of which species are declining and then propose measures that people can initiate to hopefully stem some of these declines. In this effort, I am circulating the accompanying charts to local naturalists who I know have toured through Maryland and Delaware in recent years and have assembled lists of butterfly species they have encountered. All persons with information on the listed species cited with the symbol U in the indicated jurisdictions are asked to participate in this project. I am asking each person to send to me by e-mail (email@example.com) the date and location (nearest town is sufficient) of their latest observation of this species in the county or city indicated on my charts. By citing the latest date, we will be able to assess how recently each of these species is known to have occurred in the area of interest. Of course, if anyone observes a species currently identified with an X in an indicated area, this information will be vitally important; and conservation measures will be addressed immediately at the sighting location. I plan to publish on here the status of this information at least once a year (latest year of a record will be given for contributed data), and I plan to continue this project indefinitely.
In sharing his 2016 updates, Dick also shared the following notes about the Unknown Status project:
Butterfly populations are known to be dwindling worldwide, and that trend has been observed in some of our species locally. In an effort to promote conservation, it is important to keep abreast of which local species are showing such signs of decline, and then concerned naturalist will hopefully be able to do something about it before it gets worse. In this effort, I am circulating the accompanying charts to local naturalists who I know have toured through Maryland and Delaware in recent years and have assembled lists of butterfly species they have encountered. By filling in data in the attached charts for counties and cities where Unknown status is indicated, we will be better able to concentrate our attention onto those remaining species for which status remains Unknown and for which declines may be occurring.
On the attached charts, the check mark (✔) indicates that a record exists for a species. For certain recorded species occurrences, A, S, and X symbols are used instead of the check marks. The A and S symbols indicate, respectively, that the species record is due either to an Accidental occurrence (i.e., accidental release or introduction) or to a Stray (i.e., species incidentally wandering far from normal range). The X indicates that based on observations of local lepidopterists and my own over a period of many years, the species apparently no longer occurs in the jurisdiction shown and is therefore considered to be eXtirpated there. The symbol U (for unknown) is entered on species that are uncommon in some of the counties and cities and for which I have received few or no records of occurrence of the species in these jurisdictions in the past 15 years. For the species marked U in a particular jurisdiction, you are asked to provide the date and location (nearest town is sufficient) of your latest observation of that species in that jurisdiction, if you have seen it there. I publish the latest version of these Unknown Status charts once each year (usually in January or February) on the Leplog website at https://leplog.wordpress.com/regional-lists/butterflies-of-unknown-status-in-the-dc-area/ . By citing the latest date, we will be able to assess how recently each of these species is known to have occurred in the area of interest. If certain species are eventually found to have disappeared from major parts of our region, conservation measures, such as protection of known habitat, will need to be implemented in surviving areas. Of course, if anyone observes a species currently identified with an X in an indicated area, this information will be vitally important; and conservation measures should be considered promptly at the sighting locality.
Since initiating this project early in 2011, I have received a large number of records from many of you for the Unknown Status Charts. Thank you all much for this. I have also obtained a lot of recent records by poring through butterfly entries on the Maryland Biodiversity Project website at http://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/ (these are indicated in my chart entries by “MBP”). Other on-line resources checked are NABA Recent Sightings at http://sightings.naba.org/ and the MDLepsOdes on-line forum at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/mdlepsodes . I am grateful for these various www resources in acting as repositories of observation records from our many very active field naturalists.
Some observations and tendencies, still apparently true since last year, are the following:
- Hoary Edge – no new records, except in Western Maryland and one in Piedmont
- Dreamy Duskywing – no new records in Central and Southern Maryland (it does not occur on the Eastern Shore).
- Sleepy Duskywing – no new records, except in Western Maryland
- European Skipper – no new records, except in Western Maryland, and one in 2007 in Baltimore City!
- Delaware Skipper – no new records in Central Maryland
- Common Roadside-Skipper – no new records, except in Western Maryland and Soldiers Delight (Baltimore County)
- Bronze Copper – already noted to be in marked decline in Maryland in the past 7-8 years. In 2015 it was reported in three counties (Caroline, Somerset, and Talbot) for which we have not had records for some time. However, all sightings were of single specimens, so there is no reason to conclude yet that this species is on a path to revival.
Some incidental improvements in status, however, were recorded for a few species in 2015 as follows:
- Black Dash – one Piedmont record, northern Harford County
- Dusted Skipper – several new records obtained around Maryland in 2015. Evidently not in decline. Lack of recent records apparently only due to weak sampling of species’ typical barrens habitat during its brief flight period.
- Pepper and Salt Skipper – rediscovered in Frederick County (laus detur Rick Borchelt), Gambrill SP; last county record in 1960s and previously assumed county extirpated.
Fortunately, we are on the road to being reassured that several of our other native butterfly species are still occurring in the cities and counties previously known from the historical record. However, there is still an abundance of “U” entries on these charts for many species. Please send in any new data if you have it or when it becomes available, especially for the species marked “U”. Also, if anyone has later years than the existing occurrence dates in the present charts, please forward that information to me too. Finally, please inform me if you notice that I have apparently missed entering some of your contributed data. My e-mail address is RichardSmith9070@verizon.net . (Note that this is a totally new e-mail address for me since my last announcement in 2015 of Maryland butterfly unknown species status.) Here’s hoping you all have great seasons this coming year in observing butterflies and that you will be able to help replace many more U’s in my charts with recent data entries.
Richard H. (Dick) Smith
(Footnote: for those of you who are more knowledgeable about statewide conservation activity involving butterflies, note that some (but not all) of the species omitted from my Unknown Status charts are those already considered to be rare, threatened, endangered, or extirpated in Maryland or Delaware and for which conservation considerations and measures have already been placed into action. For more on these species, please see the information and publications available at the Maryland and Delaware Natural Heritage Program websites at http://dnr2.maryland.gov/wildlife/Pages/plants_wildlife/rte/espaa.aspx and http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/NHESP/information/Pages/Information.aspx .)