Orange Phoebis in Virginia
rhilton at CSA.com
Wed Aug 28 18:09:36 EDT 2002
Around 1 or 2 pm, Saturday August 24, as I was driving north on US 13 in northern Northampton County, Virginia, I saw a large, orange butterfly flying over the road. It seemed to be identical in shape, size, altitude, and behavior to the many Cloudless Sulphurs (Phoebis sennae) that I had noted that day. However, it was essentially orange. I drove more or less under it and kept on going, as I figured relocating it would be impossible. This butterfly was probably 12 feet or so above the road as I was traveling north around 55 mph. I knew that there are only a handful of records anywhere near this far north for other Phoebis species, and I figured trying to relocate a single butterfly along a busy highway was next to impossible. The only other non-Cloudless Phoebis sulphurs I have ever seen were Large Orange (P. agarithe) and Orange-barred (P. philea) nine years ago in Texas. This past weekend I saw 150-200 Cloudless Sulphurs, both from the car and while walking.
All the Cloudless Sulphurs were quite obvious. I frequently saw them flying across US 13 at heights of 6 to 15 feet, as well as closer to the ground along the side of the highway. I think I saw around 200 individuals during the three days I was in the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and I am quite familiar with Phoebis sennae, having seen thousands of them one day in 1998 at Point Lookout, Maryland as well as many around Cape May, NJ, and various other parts of the Middle Atlantic states. I didn't note any Colias sulphurs at all this weekend. I am quite familiar with the Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme) and have seen a few Sleepy Oranges (Eurema nicippe) too.
The USGS website shows that Orange-barred Sulphur has been noted from three western Virginia counties, single counties in both central Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and three counties in New York and New England. It also shows that Large Orange Sulphur has been found in two counties in central Maryland, and single counties in New York, New Jersey, and Maine. The nearest counties to the south are in Georgia and northeast Florida, respectively.
I welcome comments on this observation.
Returning to the Washington, DC, area on August 26 I noted my last Cloudless Sulphur just east of the Nanticoke River bridge at the Wicomico / Dorchester County line.
rhilton at csa.com
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