Hello Again

White Admiral Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Toronto, Canada, International. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

Seven years is a very long time. Yesterday morning, June 3rd, I checked out of my cottage at Chapman State Park (in the Allegheny National Forest Reserve) before check-out time, and worked the trail that begins in the park and then continues in a State Game Land. Tiger Swallowtails (all male) flying at top speeds, Little Wood Satyrs, Pearl Crescents, then Red-Spotted Purple butterflies, almost all of them taking minerals on the trail floor.

Whoa! One of them is not a red-spotted purple, but instead their more northern relative, the White Spotted Admiral. Breaking my own rules, I continued photographing well  after noontime. To the end of that fieldwork, along came Jeff, geocaching. He rode a bicycle, and we stopped and talking. Both of us retired teachers, me city schools and he in a small western New York high school that graduates 20 seniors each year. He recalled Sally’s (a friend) sad battle with cancer, and I Frieda’s (A”H) sad battle with cancer. Then he biked on, and I continued finding white admirals.

I saw about 5 or 6 of them. I would approach them on the trail, robotically (see our Technique feature) and almost ever time it would fly low to another place, some 30 feet away, or fly in nearby bushes. Sometimes one would fly on a low hanging branch and that was much appreciated.

This image was taken in Toronto, Ontario on July 17, 2008. My new images from today’s shoot at Allegheny National Forest Reserve must first go to Kansas, then be scanned here in Pittsburgh. If I have captured any good ones, I’ll surely share them ASAP. Ah the joys of shooting Fuji slide film.

Jeff

White Admiral Butterfly

White Admiral Butterfly at Toronto, Canada

Toronto! The city was so much fun to see. My camera was along for the trip…so our good friend supplied directions to a park in the middle of the city, and early the next morning we prepared for who knows what?

Jackpot! West Don Park on July 17th. Let’s set the scene. Milkweed and thistle were in bloom and reaching peak. Butterflies, where? Everywhere!

Limenitis arthemis arthemis and Red admirals are very, very closely related.

Our instant butterfly here may well be a female. Females visit flowers much more frequently than males do.

After enjoying so many Mourning cloaks, Monarchs, Tiger Swallowtails, Sphinx moths and countless skippers, the appearance of this White Admiral was dramatic … as if a member of the royal crown family suddenly entered the hall.

As the field guides note, when Limenitis arthemis arthemis powerfully flies in, there is no doubt as to which species it is.

Jeffrey

Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa Atalanta)

Red admiral butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

This is our 2nd post of a Red Admiral butterfly. After having been rousted from the trail moments before, it flew to this tree and perched on it for quite a while. This is routine behavior for this species.

Each year the numbers of Red Admirals vary. 2011 produced a moderate number of these butterflies. 2010’s flight was much greater in number. The population fluctuations of this and most other butterflies remain an excellent subject for doctoral studies…too bad few have been done.

Red Admirals are like people who appear unexpectedly, chat you up energetically for several minutes and then carom off seeking their next pliable ear. These butterflies swoop in to where you are standing/working, fly from one spot to another as you move about and are soon seen winging it to some unknown destination.

The red submarginal bands, white spots and blue spots at the rear of the hindwings are the clinchers that assure you that you’re seeing a Red Admiral Butterfly.

So when you look up from planting those salvia, agastache, coneflowers or tomatoes and see this distinctive color pattern, you can be sure that during your brief break…you’ve been fortunate to have been in the company of a Red Admiral butterfly. And no sooner do you realize this, then you see ……………………….

Jeffrey