Butterflies of Soldiers Delight NEA
The relict prairie habitat of the serpentine barrens at Soldiers Delight supports a unique selection of butterfly species that thrive in its grassland and oak barrens and yet are either uncommon or rare in other parts of Maryland. In mid to late April the bright white and fragile Falcate Orangetip, whose caterpillars feed on the barrens Rock Cresses, abound along most woodland trails. By early May, the small and attractively bark-scalloped Eastern Pine Elfin can be found nectaring on the Field Chickweed alongside short pines; and in the bluestem grass openings, Cobweb Skippers are busily darting about and claiming perching sites. The violet-edged and white-browed Dusted Skippers appear in the same openings later in May.
Throughout the summer months, the goggle-eyed Common Wood Nymph is a common sight, always observed bobbing over tall grassy fields or otherwise perching, fold-wing and amazingly camouflaged and motionless, on the lower trunks of small trees. In late summer and early fall, the barrens displays abundant patches of purplish-red blazing-star flowers, and these are a magnet for the many species of butterflies on the wing there at this time. This includes the spectacular Leonard's Skipper, a small but rich rust-colored fold-wing species with creamy-white spots, certainly a deserving candidate for the banner species of the barrens. Soldiers Delight is one of the few locations in Maryland where the Cobweb, Dusted, and Leonard's Skippers, whose larvae all depend solely on bluestem grasses, can be found consistently from year to year by most careful and persistent nature observers.
Visitors to the barrens are asked to contact us if you have the good fortune to observe any of the historical species listed below or any species not included on the attached list. Also, if at all possible, please try to obtain a digital photo as a positive verification of your sighting.
Historical Butterfly Species of Soldiers Delight
White M Hairstreak