If you feel like you've been surrounded by beautiful, winged insects everywhere you go in Harford County lately, you're not just seeing things.
Butterflies – specifically the large, showy kind – are everywhere this summer, whether they're zipping across the road, flitting by flowers or hanging around watering holes.
Warmer weather always means prime time for bugs of all kinds.
But butterfly enthusiasts agree some members of the Lepidoptera (the scientific order that includes butterflies and moths) have really been taking off this summer around the region.
Rick Cheicante usually counts about 100 swallowtails during his annual July butterfly count at Havre de Grace's Swan Harbor Farm.
This year, he counted 340.
"Swallowtails, in particular tiger swallowtails, have been off the charts," said Cheicante, a Bel Air resident who is the mid-Atlantic compiler for the North American Butterfly Association, as well as an active member of the Harford Bird Club.
Some might mistake the eastern tiger swallowtail, which is usually black-and-gold, for the well-known monarch butterfly. But monarchs have actually been dwindling around the country this year, for unknown reasons.
The swallowtail, meanwhile, has chosen 2013 to multiply like mad.
Cheicante said he has seen them in much larger numbers on flowers like Joe-Pye weed, a butterfly favorite.
"It's pretty impressive, really," Cheicante said.
Besides the yellow-colored swallowtails, there have been a lot of black tiger swallowtails, which are black with blue-and-yellow edges. They are both the same species, however.
The red-spotted purple butterfly, a dramatic black butterfly tipped with blue, has also been making its presence felt, Cheicante said.
Other Harford residents have noticed the upswing in large butterflies as well.
Lisa Fleming has several butterfly bushes at her Street home, and said she observed "in the past couple of weeks that they are inundated with the orange-and-black, and then [just] black, and yellow-and-black [butterflies]."
Fleming, who has had the bushes for 15 years, estimated the number of butterflies is about 50 percent higher than normal.
"They are pretty. I love butterflies, so I really took note when I noticed how many were there," she said.
Fleming noted that when she posted some butterfly pictures on Facebook, many of her friends agreed that butterflies have been on the rise.
"A lot of people have been saying that, to be honest with you," she said. "I don't know if that has to do with the weather, or the amount of rains we have had lately."
Maryland has about 150 species of butterflies, Cheicante said, and overall, their numbers are actually down.