During the warm and sunny weather of the past few weeks, reports started coming in of the first butterflies of the year emerging in the Pacific Northwest. Species that overwinter as adults were the first to make an appearance, including Milbert's Tortoiseshells (Aglais milberti) and Mourning Cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa). Echo Azures (Celastrina echo) were the first new adults to emerge as usual.
To report your own sightings and join in discussions about local butterflies, you may join the Northwest Leps Yahoo Group (not affiliated with my blog, but where I've gathered the following records).
February 12 - two Milbert's Tortoiseshells reported near Lake Roosevelt in eastern WA.
February 15 - Satyr Anglewing (Polygonia satyrus) in Seattle, WA
February 22 - Echo Azure near Columbia River in Clatsop Co.
February 28 - four Milbert's Tortoiseshells west of Yakima, WA
March 1 - Echo Azure in Grays River, WA and three Mourning Cloaks at Fort Clatsop in OR
March 7 - my dad reported seeing a Mourning Cloak near Ellensburg in central WA
also on March 7 - Milbert's Tortoiseshell in northern Baker County, OR
March 8 - Mourning Cloak, Milbert's Tortoiseshell, two Satyr Anglewings, Cabbage White, Brown Elfin (Callophrys augustinus) and Sheridan's Green Hairstreak (Callophrys sheridanii) near Wenatchee, WA
March 13 - Echo Azure, three Mourning Cloaks, Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) and Margined White (P. marginalis) in vicinity of Fort Stevens in OR
March 16 - I saw my first-of-the-year butterfly, either a Margined White or Cabbage White checking out some flowers next to the highway on my drive home from work in Longview, WA.
Although we've now entered a period of cooler temperatures and rain, keep an eye out for butterflies on the next warm day!