Traffic Picked Up in The Perennial Garden Today

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The sun came out today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Traffic picked up in my perennial garden, so much so that there was double and triple parking going on on popular flower hot spots.

Who showed? Red Admirals came and went, sometimes in pairs. They make you feel so acutely sharp, their beaming red bands enabling split second identification. They stopped and nectar on  the anise hyssop blooms, our giant zinnias and on the purple and white coneflowers.

Great spangled fritillaries also found parking spaces, especially on the Common milkweed, Liatris (white), coneflowers (purple) and briefly on the magnificent ‘ice’ hydrangeas (Thanks to Joe Ambrogio Sr. for suggesting them).

Cabbage whites flew in throughout the day, seemingly males, barely stopping for a sip of any nectar here or there.

Trimming spent Giant zinnia blooms rousted a Striped hairstreak, either from its perch, or from a nectar interlude.

Silver spotted skippers showed off their jet propulsion potential, jetting to the milkweed, coneflowers, hydrangea and surely more. Tinier skippers, no doubt.

Did not spend the day sitting and observing, so I know that additional others have come by, and Hopefully, among them Monarchs. When they come, they’ll not find Blazingstar blossoms (a huge favorite of theirs in late summer) because . . . well, groundhogs LoVe blazing star leaves and stems, I now know.

Soon to open and bloom? Mexican sunflower (TY VcL), native Cardinal flower (Sylvania Natives, Pittsburgh), False dragonhead (Sylvania Natives), Monkeyflower (SNatives), Chocolate mint, Swamp milkweed (TY BAC) and I hope, I hope, this year Clethra.

Am preparing to put in 5 Sennas, purchased 2 days ago at Sylvania Natives, to attract yellow/orange butterflies.

The show has begun here, Folks.

Jeff

 

Peck’s Skipper Butterfly ID’d

Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania
This one was so pert, so distinctly marked and so willing to pose for me. The image I captured here, good enough to share, does though reveal my limited knowledge of the numerous species of Skippers that make Raccoon Creek State Park their home. September 5, 2014, and we’ve not been formally introduced.

We now know that she is a Peck’s  Skipper (Polites Peckius). Skippers keep me company on the trails that we share. Their mixes of browns, tans, creams and white just tantalize my eyes. That, somehow lessens the isolation felt by those of us who search for common and very uncommon butterflies. I also devote good thinking time to trying to understand how these tiny fliers survive weeks in the wild, especially during the nights, when they remain hidden in foliage, at the mercy of the legions of creepy crawlies that spend the dark hours, hunting for prey. Scary business that, when there is no front door to lock out the beasts of prey.

Jeff

Indian Skipper butterfly

Skipper butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA
She was not easy to overlook. Most of the grass skippers are very difficult to approach and don’t bedazzle your eyes. As soon as I spotted her, my ‘got to get a picture of this one’ mechanism was sprung. A looker, she.

We were in Raccoon  Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, and we met in May. My field guides confirm that though very difficult to approach, this species of skipper is less anxious when they are nectaring. Hesperia sassacus is reported as often uncommon, generally overlooked and surprise, surprise . . . though it is now 2014, little is known of them and their behavior.

Satisfying whole careers await the young readers of wingedbeauty.com who choose to pursue their interest in butterflies through university and beyond. There is so much that remains unknown, butterflies are so well regarded by the majority of folks, and I say that observing, tracking, witnessing them can supply a lifetime of contentment. Pyle, Remington, Comstock, Muir, Nabokov, to just name a few.

Jeff

Upsetting…Very Upsetting….

Leonard's Skipper Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

March 27th and the USPS letter carrier delivers our latest issue of NABA’s American Butterflies (Vol. 21: Numbers ¾). Titled The Conservation Issue…I looked forward to reading about the successes that butterflies were enjoying across the United States That did not happen. Most of the articles left me upset and saddened.

Ann B. Swengel writes of the challenges that grass skippers were encountering in their tall grass prairie habitats…but soon she was examining the status of Regal Fritillaries in those same grasslands. I’ve wanted to photograph regal Frits for years now, knowing how limited they are in my home state of Pennsylvania. For various reasons, that has not been accomplished, yet. Jeffrey Glassberg reports in that same issue of American Butterflies, “Regal Fritillaries [were last recorded in Westchester County, NY] in 1975.”

Then Jeffrey Glassberg discussed the disappearance of Leonard’s Skippers from Westchester County. “The last individuals were seen in 1988.”  The last 2 colonies known were decimated by 1) a musical festival that apparently pounded them into the ground and 2) the construction of townhouses that destroyed their habitat.

I will never forget my encounter with Leonard’s Skipper (Hesperia leonardus) in 2006. We’ve posted that experience earlier, so you are welcome to have a look. It was September 4th, sooo late in the season to meet something 100% new…and she was stunning! She flew onto the trail cut through the 100 acre meadow at Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania. She posed with her lush wings fully spread. After lots of exposures, she fled.

These reports are very upsetting. Have the small populations at Raccoon Creek State Park…undergone… I don’t want to think about it.

The American Butterflies articles go on to discuss the absence of Silver-bordered Fritillaries, Meadow Fritillaries, Coral Hairstreaks…can we not anchor the butterflies that we have, and guard their habitat?

Jeff