Mid-May Report

Up close and personal view of little wood satyr photo’d by Will Kerling at Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve, 5-14-12, a species new for 2012, as of 5-8-12.

Halfway through the month, we have recorded 50 species for May (and 55 species for the year).

New for 2012 and found in May are:

little yellow, 5-6-12
little wood-satyr, 5-8-12
viceroy, 5-11-12
northern cloudywing, 5-11-12
southern cloudywing, 5-12-11
crossline skipper, 5-13-12
Hayhurst’s scallopwing, 5-14-12
Aaron’s skipper, 5-15-12

Our pace this month is slightly ahead of last May’s pace, when in the first fifteen days of the month we found 46 species.

Seen this year in the first half of May, but not during that period in 2011:

little yellow, painted lady, Hayhurst’s scallopwing, least skipper, Peck’s skipper, crossline skipper, Aaron’s skipper.

The 2012 little yellow is a first-ever May occurrence (as far as we know), and painted lady was very scarce throughout 2011 (only 16 reports all year). The five skippers on this list all appeared in May 2011, but weeks later (Hayhurst’s on 5/21, least on 5/24, Peck’s on 5/19, crossline and Aaron’s on 5/26).

Seen last year (May 1-May 15, 2011) but not yet this May:

hoary elfin, gray hairstreak, eastern comma, common checkered skipper

Eastern comma has been difficult to find this year. In 2011 we had 11 reports in the first half of May, totaling fifteen individuals. We had a few reports of the species last month (April, 2012), but this month we have none so far — although we have some anglewing, sp. that might have been commas, of course.

By contrast, question marks, at least partly because they were involved in the big red admiral/Am lady flight of late April/early May, have been far more common this year than last year. Between May 1 and May 15, 2011, we tallied 22 reports of question marks and an estimated 40 individuals. In the same period in 2012, we recorded 73 reports and an estimated 4622 individuals. In fact, our total of question marks for the first half of May dwarfs our total for all of last year (603 individuals).

Missing gray hairstreak for the month so far is interesting. Could the species be “between broods” at the moment? We had ten reports last month (April, 2012), but had none in the first fifteen days this month.

Interestingly, we almost missed gray hairstreak for the final fifteen days of May, 2011 — after seven reports in May up to 5/15/11 when Will K spotted two (“both rags”), we went without a single report of the species until Will found another on 5/31/11, the last day of the month.

In 2010 the pattern seems similar: 7 reports of gray hairstreak between 4/15/10 and 5/7/10, then no more until 6/1/10 (a gap of three weeks+). In 2009 we had 3 reports between 4/15 and 5/23/09, and then none until 6/13/09 (another gap of three weeks).

Is the spring brood of gray hairstreak discernible in this way — marked by a handful of early reports, and then a pause, before the summer broods appear in good numbers?

Keep exploring, everyone!


Viceroy photo’d by Will Kerling at Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve, 5-14-12, a species new for 2012 as of 5-11-12

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