Dion Skipper: Here Now & Too-Soon-Gone?

Female dion skipper in Cape May Courthouse, 7-5-12, found and photo’d by Cynthia Allen.

Cynthia Allen and her garden brought us our first dion skipper of the year the other day, our 84th species for the year and a new one for Cynthia’s ever-increasing garden list (dion was #62 on her list, following oak hairstreak, #61).

It is listed as “locally common” on the Cape May Butterfly Checklist, but it’s been a challenging species for most of us to find in the years of our log, and one that it’s probably best to chase right now, if you can.

In 2008 all our contributors combined managed only three reports, and a total of four individuals, all within ten days, from July 15 to July 25.

In 2009 we had only four reports, all from Parker Preserve in Burlington County, in a fourteen-day period, August 3 to August 17. (Could this have been evidence of the disjunct Pine Barrens population suggested by Jeff Glassberg in his 1993 edition of Butterflies Through Binoculars? In any case, we had no reports that year from any other counties.)

In 2010 we totaled only three reports and four individuals, from June 27 to July 17, all from Cape May and Atlantic Counties.

Last year we had our best results so far for the species: ten reports and a total of about fifty individuals. Again, however, all came from Atlantic and Cape May Counties, and the flight period was apparently short, just the two weeks from July 6 to July 19.

Dion is a wetland species with “various” sedges and rushes listed as its hosts. Cynthia speculates her female reached her from “the wet woods south of me on Hand Ave which is preserved as part of the Cape May National Wildlife Reserve.”

Can we match last year’s record total for this easily-missed species (or maybe even surpass that count)? And how many counties can record it this year? Can we find it again in Parker or some other Pine Barrens area?

Keep exploring, everyone!

Dorsal view of same female dion skipper, 7-5-12, photo by Cynthia Allen.

7-11-12 Update

Is Cape May Courthouse our new hot spot for dions? Will Kerling followed up Cynthia Allen’s dion with one of his own at the Cape May County Historical Museum on Rt 9 on 7-11-12. It’s another female, but this spot is miles from Cynthia’s garden.

A different female dion, photo’d by Will Kerling, 7-11-12.

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