Update August 3: Yesterday my Mom and I visited Dawes Arboretum in Newark, OH. We didn't spend much time on the main grounds of the arboretum, instead spending several hours wandering the mown paths of the Dutch Fork Wetlands area. This section of the Arboretum showcases prairie and riparian floodplain ecosystem(s). It's gorgeous, I really want to come back to this spot again. We found tons of wildflowers in bloom, including Joe-Pye Weed, Wingstem, Coneflower, Ironweed, Queen Anne's Lace, Cardinal flower, Sawtooth Sunflower, Bee Balm, Swamp Milkweed, Pickerelweed, and on and on! I had planned to look for Hackberry Emperor at Dutch Fork Wetlands as well, but didn't have to: one was perched above the garage door when we were getting ready to leave the house! I did get another new butterfly for the year at Dutch Fork Wetlands as well: an Eastern Comma, on a pile of bird droppings beneath barn swallow nests in the observation deck structure. During our walk we also saw several Monarchs, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Viceroys, Pearl Crescents, Clouded and Orange Sulphurs, and of course the ubiquitous Cabbage White.
Edit August 1: I had a long period of just seeing the same species over and over, due largely to my not traveling very far from home. Getting to where the larval hostplants are is definitely the key! Today I'm visiting my mom in Ohio, however, and finally added two new species to the list: Giant Swallowtail and Common Wood-Nymph. Both were seen at Blendon Woods Metro Park in Columbus, OH. Goldenrod Trail had plenty of blooming Ironweed, Joe-Pye Weed, Swamp Milkweed, Brown-eyed Susan (I think), and several flowers I can't yet identify. Clearly there are also lots of larval hostplants nearby, since we also saw Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Zabulon Skippers, Peck's Skippers, Silver-Spotted Skippers, and more. Looking forward to more exploring here in Ohio!
Edit June 9: It's been a while since I had a chance to update this log, but I've definitely been making time to go butterflying! I'm discovering lots of awesome parks while I work on my Big Year, so that's great fun.
- April 28--At Calvert Cliffs State Park in Lusby, MD, I spotted Zebra Swallowtail, Henry's Elfin, and Eastern Pine Elfin.We didn't have time to look for fossils along the beach there, but thoroughly enjoyed our hike through the woods and marsh.
- May 9--At Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park in Galloway, OH, I added a Red Admiral. We also had a chance to view a days-old bison calf with the resident herd at the park, part of their prairie ecosystem. So cute!
- May 11--Closer to home at Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville, MD, I found Eastern Tailed-blue and Horace's Duskywing. I also saw another Juvenal's Duskywing, making a good backup sighting to the one I saw on April 17.
- May 14--In Wheaton Regional Park I found Silver Spotted Skipper, Red-banded Hairstreak, and Red-spotted Purple.
- May 14--An evening visit to Stoneridge Pond in Rockville, MD got me a Peck's Skipper.
- May 16-- While hiking around Lake Frank, part of Rock Creek Regional Park in Rockville, MD, I found Pipevine Swallowtail, Zabulon Skipper, and Wild Indigo Duskywing.
- May 18-- A hike at the C&O Canal National Park (in Maryland, not sure of the exact town) added Tawny-edged Skipper, ironically in clover next to the parking lot rather than on the trail. We also saw probably hundreds of fluttering damselflies who were being preyed upon by huge dragonflies, probably some kind of clubtail species. I haven't really got into identifying odonates much yet... maybe that will be next year!
- May 19-- On a lunchtime walk at Brookside Gardens, in Wheaton, MD, I spotted a Gray Hairstreak.
- May 21-- Another walk at Brookside Gardens, in Wheaton, MD, added Sachem Skipper.
- May 26-- I found Least Skippers at Stoneridge Pond, Rockville, MD.
- May 28--A lovely Question Mark was mudpuddling on some damp earth at Brookside Gardens, in Wheaton, MD.
- May 30-- On a road trip south, I visited Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, in Townsend, GA. There I saw Painted Lady, Salt Marsh Skipper, Palamedes Swallowtail, and Little Wood-Satyr. Most exciting though was viewing the raucous nesting colony of Wood Storks there. Many other wading birds were nesting among the storks as well: Great egrets, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis. We saw Roseate Spoonbills in the park too, although I can't remember if there were any on nests in the colony. We also enjoyed watching an armadillo searching through leaf litter for a tasty snack. Definitely worth the trip!
- May 31-- Next visit on the trip was to Orlando Wetlands PArk, in Christmas, FL. The only new butterfly I saw here was a Dainty Sulphur, but we really enjoyed watching the throngs of dragonflies swarming over the trails. Even more impressive (and somewhat frightening) were the roars coming from unseen alligators in the marsh. I've heard alligators grunting before, but never these hair-raising roars. I definitely had goosebumps.
- June 1-- On the same road trip, I managed to photograph and identify Cassius Blue while in Epcot Park, Orlando, FL.
- June 2-- Heading back north, I stopped at Trout Creek Park in Thonotosassa, FL. Despite an overcast sky and frequent light rain I still found a cooperative Zarucco Duskywing in the power line clearing that cuts across one of the trails.
- June 4-- The next stop was at Santee National Wildlife Refuge, Cuddo Unit, in Summerton, SC. This was a great park! We drove along their wildlife drive, stopping periodically to watch and photograph butterflies in clearings and meadows. We managed to identify Sleepy Orange, American Lady, and Common Buckeye. We also spotted a couple of Wild Turkeys crossing the road at one point.
- June 7-- Back in Maryland again, I visited Meadowside Nature Center and added Little Glassywing, Great Spangled Fritillary, and Northern Pearly-eye. Common milkweed was budding up in the meadows there, but was about a week away from blooming. Swamp milkweed was just starting to bloom, though.
Edit April 21: At Sawgrass Lake Park in St. Petersburg, Florida, I added Zebra Heliconian, Viceroy (the dark Florida version), a Phoebis species that I couldn't identify further--either Cloudless Sulphur, Large Oange Sulphur, or Orange-barred Sulphur judging from size & location & general appearance, but I never could get a close enough look at one to tell which-- and a repeat of White Peacock. I had hoped for some hairstreaks or other Florida specialties in the marshy woods, but we struck out. Many kinds of dragonflies were abundant here, several juvenile alligators dozed throughout the park, and we also saw a lovely turtle nesting near the parking lot.
Edit April 19: At Epcot Park in Orlando, Florida, I added White Peacock, Monarch, Great Southern White, and Fiery Skipper. We saw other butterflies but some I discounted due to the live butterfly exhibit that was ongoing. Since all the species in the exhibit were locally native, the enclosure had only curtains of loose chains at the exits and butterflies could easily escape. I maybe shouldn't count any except the Fiery Skipper from this visit, as it was the only one that wasn't included in the exhibit. I'm still contemplating the ethics here. I also saw a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on dill in a gardening display.
Edit April 18: While driving into Mariott's Cypress Villa Harbor area of timeshare condos in Orlando, FL, I added Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
Edit April 17: While visiting Orlando Wetlands Park in Christmas, Florida, I added Cloudless Sulphur, Gulf Fritillary, Juvenal's Duskywing (I think), Black Swallowtail, and Pearl Crescent. The weather started off partly sunny but turned dark and stormy, driving us out of the park before we'd gone very far. The blooming flowers in the marsh and around the Nature Center seemed very promising, and I'd like to visit again this year if I have a chance.
Here's where I'll be posting my butterfly sightings and counts as I do a Butterfly Big Year in 2015, as I described here. Follow along, and let me know if you have any questions, or suggested locales you think I should check out!
1. Cabbage White Pieris rapae. Seen April 11 at Stoneridge Pond, in Rockville, MD.
2. Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa. Seen April 12 at Huntley Meadows, Alexandria, VA.
3. Variegated Fritillary Euptoieta claudia. Seen April 13 while gardening in Rockville, MD.
4. Cloudless Sulphur Phoebis sennae. Seen April 17 at Orlando Wetlands Park, Christmas, FL.
5. Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae. Seen April 17 at Orlando Wetlands Park, Christmas, FL.
6. Juvenal's Duskywing Erynnis juvenalis. Seen April 17 at Orlando Wetlands Park, Christmas, FL.(I probably ought to repeat this one elsewhere if possible, I'm not entirely confident of Juvenal's vs. Horace's duskywings.)
7. Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes. Seen April 17 at Orlando Wetlands Park, Christmas, FL.
8. Pearl Crescent Phyciodes tharos. Seen April 17 at Orlando Wetlands Park, Christmas, FL.
9. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Papilio glaucus. Seen April 18 at Cypress Villa Harbor condos in Orlando, FL.
10. White Peacock Anartia jatrophae. Seen April 19 at Epcot Park in Orlando, FL, repeated April 21 at Sawgrass Lake Park, in St. Petersburg, FL.
11. Monarch Danaus plexippus. Seen April 19 at Epcot Park in Orlando, FL.
12. Great Southern White Ascia monuste. Seen April 19 at Epcot Park in Orlando, FL (including two mating).
13. Fiery Skipper Hylephila phyleus. Seen April 19 at Epcot Park in Orlando, FL.
14. Zebra Heliconian Heliconius charithonia. Seen April 21 at Sawgrass Lake Park in St. Petersburg, FL.
15. Viceroy Limenitis archippus (dark Florida variety). Seen April 21 at Sawgrass Lake Park in St. Petersburg, FL.
16. Clouded Sulphur Colias philodice. Seen April 22 near Stoneridge Pond in Rockville, MD.
17. Zebra Swallowtail Eurytides marcellus. Seen April 28 at Calvert Cliffs State Park in Lusby, MD.
18. Henry's Elfin Callophrys henrici. Seen April 28 at Calvert Cliffs State Park in Lusby, MD.
19. Eastern Pine Elfin Callophrys niphon. Seen April 28 at Calvert Cliffs State Park in Lusby, MD.
20. Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta. Seen May 9 at Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park in Galloway, OH.
21. Eastern Tailed-blue Everes comyntas. Seen May 11 at Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville, MD.
22. Horace's Duskywing Erynnis horatius. Seen May 11 at Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville, MD.
23. Peck's Skipper Polites peckius. Seen May 12 at Stoneridge Pond in Rockville, MD.
24. Silver-spotted Skipper Epargyreus clarus. Seen May 14 at Wheaton Regional Park in Wheaton, MD.
25. Red-banded Hairstreak Calycopis cecrops. Seen May 14 at Wheaton Regional Park in Wheaton, MD.
26. Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis . Seen May 14 at Wheaton Regional Park in Wheaton, MD.
27. Pipevine Swallowtail Battus philenor. Seen May 16 at Lake Frank in Rock Creek Regional Park in Rockville, MD.
28. Zabulon Skipper Poanes zabulon. Seen May 16 at Lake Frank in Rock Creek Regional Park in Rockville, MD.
29. Wild Indigo Duskywing Erynnis baptisiae. Seen May 16 at Lake Frank in Rock Creek Regional Park in Rockville, MD.
30. Tawny-edged Skipper Polites themistocles. Seen May 18 at C&O Canal National Park, somewhere near Violette's Lock area, MD.
31. Gray Hairstreak Strymon melinus. Seen May 19 at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD.
32. Sachem Skipper Atalopedes campestris. Seen May 21 at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD.
33. Least Skipper Ancyloxypha numitor. Seen May 26 at Stoneridge Pond in Rockville, MD.
34. Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis. Seen May 28 at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD.
35. Painted Lady Vanessa cardui. Seen May 30 at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Townsend, GA.
36. Salt Marsh Skipper Panoquina panoquin. Seen May 30 at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Townsend, GA.
37. Palamedes Swallowtail Papilio palamedes. Seen May 30 at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Townsend, GA.
38. Little Wood-Satyr Megisto cymela. Seen May 30 at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Townsend, GA.
39. Dainty Sulphur Nathalis iole. Seen May 31 at Orlando Wetlands Park in Christmas, FL.
40. Cassius Blue Leptotes cassius. Seen June 1 at Epcot Park in Orlando, FL.
41. Zarucco Duskywing Erynnis zarucco. Seen June 2 at Trout Creek Park in Thonotosassa, FL.
42. Sleepy Orange Eurema nicippe. Seen June 4 at Santee National Wildlife Refuge (Cuddo Unit) in Summerton, SC.
43. American Lady Vanessa virginiensis. Seen June 4 at Santee National Wildlife Refuge (Cuddo Unit) in Summerton, SC.
44. Common Buckeye Junonia coenia. Seen June 4 at Santee National Wildlife Refuge (Cuddo Unit) in Summerton, SC.
45. Little Glassywing Pompeius verna. Seen June 7 at Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville, MD.
46. Great Spangled Fritillary Speyeria cybele. Seen June 7 at Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville, MD.
47. Northern Pearly-eye Enodia anthedon. Seen June 7 at Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville, MD.
48. Spicebush Swallowtail Papilio troilus. Seen June 14 at Stoneridge Pond in Rockville, MD.
49. Orange Sulphur Colias eurytheme. Seen June 15 at Stoneridge Pond in Rockville, MD.
50. "Summer" Spring Azure Celastrina ladon neglecta. Seen June 17 at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD.
51. Giant Swallowtail Papilio cresphontes. Seen August 1 at Blendon Woods Metro Park in Columbus, OH.
52. Common Wood-Nymph Cercyonis pegala. Seen August 1 at Blendon Woods Metro Park in Columbus, OH.
53. Hackberry Emperor Asterocampa celtis. Seen August 2 on residential building in Worthington, OH.
54. Eastern Comma Polygonia comma. Seen August 2 at Dawes Arboretum, Dutch Fork Wetlands section, in Newark, OH.
55. Swarthy Skipper, Nastra lherminier. Seen August 5 at Batelle-Darby Creek Metro Park, in Galloway, OH.
56. Southern Broken-Dash, Wallengrenia otho. Seen August 19 at Brookside Gardens, in Wheaton, MD.