Frederick City Watershed

Our wrapup field trip took us to the Frederick City Watershed Cooperative WMA (part of the municipal forest property), on Catoctin Mountain between the national park and Gambrill State Park. We were cleared for netting in this area, and fortunately it’s not deer season, so we got good up-close looks at three skippers, Little Glassywing (Pompeius verna), Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades), and Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles), as well as a Summer Azure (Celastrina ladon neglecta). I am still struggling with IDs of Papilio swallowtails, but Pat called Spicebush and Pipevine for the butterflies we brought in.

The destination butterfly for this area, however, is Edwards’ Hairstreak (Lycaena phlaeas), which is dependent on scrub oak and barrens habitat. Starting from a parking area on Gambrill Park Road north of Five Forks, Pat led us to a heathy patch (Vaccinium in fruit) known to be a hotspot. We were extremely fortunate to find several individuals, many of them ventrally basking on the oak foliage (Quercus ilicifolia). My field trip organization skills let me down however, so I was without means for good photographic documentation. The butterflies didn’t seem to mind.