Zebras Beached

Zebra swallowtail butterflies photographed at Mason's Neck State Park, VA

How many? I may well have shot between 50,000 and 75,000 slides over these decades. Butterflies. Encouragement was at home in Pittsburgh, and that was fuel enough for my years of fieldwork, taking me as far west as Arizona, and to the east to Ein Gedi, the HolyLand.

Butterflies seen? Countless. Memories, Wow! many. Cows menacing me, the city kid, who grew up On the Streets, and never knew a cow could glare. That Eastern timber rattlesnake that was such a cooperative subject (Rector, PA) that Brooklyn suddenly realized that Mwaw! was within easy striking distance of that 6-footer! The Yucca Giant Skipper that I did not see two  days ago, this beach scene on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, in Mason’s Neck State Park.

Butterflies flee your approach. These Zebra Swallowtail butterflies were so intent on their purposeful coupling that they disregarded my very close (Macro-) approach, time and time again, for more than . . . one-half hour. I posted some time ago that this so challenged my much earlier education in life, on the beach at Arverne, New York, all those summers at Grandma’s summer bungalow. The unspoken common dignity then was to steer a wide berth around lovers entwined on the beach/under the boardwalk.

Funny then here, where I entertained this repeated unease, that I was being intrusive, that I was not accommodating lovers on the ocean sand. They’re butterflies, but that’s what bothered me, Honest.

And yes, Virginia, there were Paw Paws growing there.


Why do we marvel at Praying Mantis’ Egg Masses?

Coming Soon, Real Soon . . . .

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Mantid egg case photographed by Jeff Zablow
Who can resist? June 2014, and there in Doak field, in the field, we discover . . . a Praying Mantis (Mantis Religiosa) egg mass. Butterflies are why we’re out there, but, who can resist stopping for a moment to examine this wonder of wonders?

What is inside? Eggs. What is the outside material? A substance produced by the female, that hardens, and . . . and serves many roles, one of them is it repels birds. It discourages birds from eating the eggs within. Impressive.

When it is 0 degrees F in that field in January 2015, those eggs remain viable. Suspended on this twig, the entire egg mass never comes in contact with the snow that covers the field, again and again throughout the winter.

Spring arrives, and the eggs hatch. The tiny mantids chew their way through the outer covering of the egg mass, and grow…

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Coupled Coppers in the Golan (Israel)

Coupled Copper Butterflies I photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

The carnage just miles away in Syria, prevented me from going to the peak of Mt. Hermon. Wanting to find and shoot the rare butterflies of the mountain, I settled on the meadows surrounding Neve Ativ. This tiny town is on the slope of Mt. Hermon. Me? Neve Ativ looks like what I think a little Swiss village would look like.

Blues and coppers were flying, low as they do, in those flower covered meadows. An occasional fritillary butterfly showed, but they never landed for more than 2.1 seconds.

Mid-way through that morning ( photographing butterflies in Israel, even as we are here in April ’17, is near humanly impossible in the afternoon heat (it is a very arid country).

When I spotted this mated pair of Lycaena thersamon omphale, if you were there with me, you’d surely tell me that face lit up, happy as a puppy with . . . .

I chose to share this now, for it reminded me of how readily available beauty, peace and G-d’s work is for those tens of millions of you who work day in and day out. Me, I started working after school at age 13, and came retirement, well I had worked for decades and decades . . . and I am gifted in that I do still smell the roses, and hike to find eye fulls like this = sheer, unadulterated Beauty. Earnest, innocent and 0% politicized.


OK! Common Checkered-Skipper

Checkered-skipper photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Jeff so wanted this fresh Checkered Skipper to be a Desert Checkered -Skipper. It was said that it just might be. Commons are found throughout most of the United States, and yes, they are seen so often that they rank as ‘common.’

We were in the National Butterfly Center, Mission, Texas. Four (4) Checkered-Skippers have been seen there.

Review of this image concludes this is a Common Checkered-Skipper. It’s seen in nearly all of the U.S. continental states, except New England.

I’m sure this is of zero concern to this tiny creative masterpiece, though it could not be faulted for feeling overlooked by nearly all who love butterflies. Who among us trumpet the arrival of a ‘Common?’