26 Months of Waiting For the USA’s Butterfly Cogniscenti Is Enough, No?

Erato heliconian butterfly (Dorsal view) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

On March 22, 2018 we posted this image, the post’s title was Erato Heliconian at the National Butterfly Center in Mission Texas. There we described, with much gusto! my excitement when I met this rare butterfly.

I told of how I watched the Erato fly away, fly in a straight line, as a projectile might, not rising or descending, for what I gauge was no less than 150 feet or more beyond where I stood. I saw something that triggered my knowledge of butterfly flight.

That Erato’s bright red flashes were visible 100% of the time I observed it fly. It was as if the Erato had ultra bright red lights on its wings. My conclusion was that that non-stop display of bright, rich red must be an adaptation that broadcast to predators: Stay away, for I am highly toxic. To this day I am told that I walk with a certain how do you call it, going way back to my growing up on the streets of Brooklyn, that a message that it’s best to leave this kid alone, and enjoy your . . . teeth for another day. It worked for me, and I suspected it works for this Erato Heliconian butterfly.

I posed this question to all, and 26 months later, I can admit that I’m beyond disappointed at the leaders of NABA, the Xerces, The Audubon folks. Hey, the USA has what, 3 blogs or so that chronicle our butterflies, wingedbeauty.com is probably the longest published, some 10 years now I think.

We all want to conserve our Butterflies, expand habitat, protect vital habitat, and increase the home planting of hostplants by a gazillion percent. Why don’t those who profess to be at the forefront of this good work have the . . . (I need a good word) . . . to support any and all who seek to also do so.

Yes, I no longer am a member of Xerces and now am no longer making good-sized contributions to the North American Butterfly Association. Such clubbiness is often counter-productive.

Jeff

NB, I continue to await your opinions . . . .

Black Form Eastern Tiger on Buttonbush

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Black Form), photographed by Jeff Zablow at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Heat, humidity, mosquitoes, ebbs and flows in butterfly activity all disappear, when? When a beauty like this female fly in. She’s a black form of the much more common Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.

She here shows evidence of a little bit of wear (some of the scales that cover her wings have slipped off), but just as so many remain beautiful well into the later decades of their life, she too is gorgeous.

Met a Pond 2 at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Juliette, Georgia, middle Georgia. The buttonbush where it loves to be, at the edge of a pond.

I’ve always had this thing for OMG! beauty . . . .

Jeff

Gone From 99.999% Of Their Homes East Of The Mississippi River?

Regal Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Years and years went by before this day. The day I finally, after much effort on my part to see them, finally met them. Where was this? Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, not far from the capitol of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. NABA totally rebuffed my requests, then the Ft. Indiantown Gap Reservation’s annual June limited access program let me meet them. Yes, I’m still displeased that I had to wait so long . . . .

I’m still puzzled, though. 200 years ago, Regal Fritillary Butterflies still flew within walking distance of my childhood home in Brooklyn, New York City. Today, they no longer can be found in 99.999% of their former range east of the U.S.’s Mississippi River. They fly only here where you see this one, and I’m told, on another military reservation in that state of Virginia.

They prefer rich meadows, full of the Butterflyweed you see here, and Common Milkweed. What bothers me is the total absence of any explanation for their disappearance from their historical ranges. Our cell phones amaze, our computers are incredibly advanced, our car and planes would not be believed by folks just 20 years ago. Our universities all have incredibly advanced research capability and our organizations, like the aforementioned National Butterfly Association and Xerces and the National Audubon Society, etc. urge their membership to do more and more.

Why has no one offered an explanaton for the disappearance of the Regal Fritillary butterfly from my old East Flatbush neighborhood? From the entire state of New York? New Jersey? Maryland? Virginia? West Virginia? North Carolina? South Carolina? Tennessee? Georgia, my home now? Why?

A response of a single word,’Development’ isn’t enough, anymore.

Jeff

Hiding At Clay Pond

Eyed Satyr Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

Barbara Ann (A”H) and I were at Clay Pond Preserve in Frewsburg, New York, near Jamestown. It was a damp, humid morning, with the sun promising to return within the hour. It was early, as we waded through the 2-foot tall pond-edge grasses and sedges. As we moved, butterflies rose up from here and there, fleeing. There were more butterflies being rustled up than I would have expected. That reassured me that on that my second trip to Clay Pond, it remained a rich, healthy wetland destination.

I noticed this form in the grass ahead, and carefully making my approach, I kneeled down to get a better look, and this is what I saw, an Eyed Brown Butterfly (Satyroydes eurydice). The available light was limited, the air was moisture saturate, and the sky remain cloudy.

Almost like those TV shows where the cops are staking out a house, before sunrise or after sunset.

Jeff

Welcome Palamedes!

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

We had one Palamedes Swallowtail visit our Eatonton, Georgia natives garden. That was exciting. Though Glassberg cites the Palamedes as a “Stray” some miles from the northernmost range it occupies, Eatonton was well placed for a Palamedes ‘stray.’ We had no Redbay or Laurels, its hostplants, and our one visitor only passed through.

We’re now two months here in Macon, miles farther south in Georgia. We continue to not feature Laurels or Redbay here, but Sunday’s trip to Jim & Debi’s Nearly Native Nursery may, who knows, change that!

This Palamedes was at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle. We never Photoshop our images, and the stark Beauty of this Palamedes so electrifies me!!

Jeff