A Rare American Skipper

Leonard's Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

Sometimes I review my images and I’m pleased that I have some that are just plain unusual, “rare.” Jeffrey Glassberg in A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America notes that this Leonard’s Skipper butterfly is “LR-U,” locally rare to uncommon. Good, for I remember when and how I score this sweet image.

It was well into September at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. I wanted to go there that morning, but had an internal debate, ‘Why go when it was so late in the season and everything that could be seen by me, was?’ I went.

She flew onto a mowed trail in Doak’s 100+ acres meadow. ??????? What was she? I’d never seen such a sweety before. And she was a stunner!!

She my first Leonard’s. A rare skipper that first appears in very late summer!

A rare American skipper butterfly, and  . . . Never say never! Thanks Fuji, for your Velvia slide film caught her lush color just fine.

Jeff

Are Monarchs Safe?

Monarch Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

We’ve fretted for years, concerned that the numbers of Monarch butterflies was plummeting to crisis numbers. Up and down they went, and all of us kept our eyes and hearts peeled, awaiting credible reports back from the mysterious mountains in central Mexico. Just the realization, so recent for so many of us, that Monarchs had to travel to the east most USA from that far! made us cringe!

So here we are in September 2018. Many of us are sharing rich, beautiful images of Monarchs seen in our gardens, parks and roadsides, just these last weeks. Seeing them as if their numbers are good, strong.

Here in central Georgia, I’ve seen multiple Monarchs flying in my garden at the same time. That’s a whole lot better than I saw in this area in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Females have been laying eggs on my Asclepias ( milkweeds ) by the dozens. Several dozen have eclosed ( safely left chrysalis and flown ) these last weeks. Yippee!

This male on Joe Pye in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Can we rest assured that for the meantime, Monarchs are safe? Virginia? Monarchmama? Curt? Phil? Marcie? Jeff ( Jamestown, NY )?

Jeff

Butterfly Realities

Argiope with sulphur prey photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

I’m glad that I don’t see this too often. Y’all know that I am fond of butterflies. I’ve never ever caught one in a net, never pinned a beautiful, fresh butterfly to a small cardboard and for sure never ever caught one to sell to collectors in Tucson, Manila or Beijing.

Human poachers collect for their own collection or for money. That upsets me, for especially when they finally locate a small rare population, say with 50 butterflies at the most, who do they seek? They search for the strongest, most perfect 2 males and 2 females. Catch them, and desolate the vibrance of the remaining tiny population, by removing the strong, hearty individuals from the endangered gene pool.

Butterfly realities may be difficult to understand. Hard reality does require serious contemplation. G-d made all of these creatures, for good reason. Those that prey on animals, the spiders, wasps, beetles in the trees at night, robber flies, lizards, frogs, mice, dragonflies, snakes, birds, bats, they all depend on butterflies for their 1% to 15% of their prey. This really, really bothered me decades ago. 40 or more years of thinking has led me to conclude that the academics are correct, this is a very well organized system, and it has worked this who knows how many years. And it will work, well beyond our days.

This Black and Yellow Argiope has caught a yellow/sulphur butterfly in her web. Her sticky protein strands have done their job well, and she now will go to feast on her gossamer-winged prey.

Those who never consider such predator-prey relationships, are much aggrieved. Won’t this 1 event trigger the disappearance of this species of butterfly??

No it will not. There are offsets here. The mother butterfly who produced this imperiled offspring did not lay 1 egg. She more than likely set out 100 eggs. Those 100 caterpillars hatched will see high losses to another long list of predators. The chrysalises produced will suffer losses to the elements and to desperate predators. How many adults butterflies will eclose from those odd cases? Oh, let’s say 21. Those 21 adult yellow/sulphur butterflies must fly in the territory of dragonflies, blue jays, mockingbirds, even the sweet and beloved bluebirds. At night, when they roost in trees and bushes, snakes, beetles, lizards and more appear, and . . . !

Butterfly realities make me appreciate my home, my locked door, Petra and . . . . the law enforcement men and women who give us peace of mind and a watchful eye.

Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia.

Jeff

Which NFL Great Loved Coppers?

Copper Butterfly ( Dorsal View ) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

Y. A. Tittle? Jim Brown? Fran Tarkenton? Antonio Brown? Matt Ryan? I’m sitting here, slightly missing the National Football League this 2018 season . . . and I’m thinking. This image of a tiny copper butterfly, Lycaena thersamon omphale got me to thinking, how do 6′ 3″ tall men, and 5′ 11″ tall women shoot such diminutive butterflies.

This guy was seen in a small moshav (village) on the slope of Israel’s Mt. Hermon. I wanted those 2016 images to include coppers nectaring with their wings open. I spent those 3 mornings trying to capture that and some other scenarios.

Remember, I shoot Fuji slide film, and use a Canon 100mm/2.8 lens (this was my first one, not equipped with Image Stabilization). Working with a Macro- lens necessitates getting some 18″ or so from the copper, that a feat in and of itself. So you approach, you all bent over, or like me kneeling on my left knee, on my Tommy kneepad. He flies to a bloom 2 feet away, you follow, going down again, again he flies, and again . . . . This for 3 hours in the early morning! Stir in the added feature: the sun drenching you in hot, sunburn waves, and ask yourself: How does a guy like Peyton Manning, touted at 6′ 5″ . . . photograph copper butterflies in the Israeli Golan?

Share what you know please.

Jeff