Doak Field in Raccoon Creek State Park is a Treasure Trove for Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Our subject is intaking nectar from Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Mid-morning on July 27th, she is all business and so pre-occupied that we can approach within 12 inches.

Her deep orange is so rich that we are in a swoon. Fighting the milkweed family inner clock, she’s getting the last nectar before these flowers end their daily nectar production.

This 90 acre field in Raccoon Creek State Park is a treasure trove offering protected habitat that elsewhere is increasingly being lost.

So, if it’s July 27th, will she make the trip down south in early September, or will her progeny fly south?

Will they fly to Georgia, Alabama or Mississippi? Where will they begin their flight over the Gulf of Mexico?

I’m still awed by these questions . . . as I was as a grade schooler in Brooklyn, New York. How do they?

Danaus plexippus continues to ground us a bit, reminding us that we do not know everything!

Would butterfly heavyweights please weigh in here.


One of 70 Hairstreak Butterfly Species


June 22nd and we’re in Rector, PA and whoa!, what do I see standing motionless on a leaf? Satyrium liparops . . . fresh, intact and almost regal in bearing?

Encountering a Striped Hairstreak Butterfly is infrequent and exhilirating. Remembering that they are superb models, posing for minutes on end, heightening the experience.

Our image captures the blue wash, red caps, ‘stripes’, tails, pookie eyes and those natty legs.

Compare this gent with the other Hairstreaks that we’ve posted, Gray Hairstreaks and Acadian Hairstreaks and you may, as I did, develop a fondness for these  Lycaenids.

Should you wish to take on yet another life challenge . . . set out to observe the other 69 Hairstreak species in the U.S. and Canada. That should keep you busy for a couple of years!


Why are Male Butterflies More Likely to Seek Minerals?

Eastern tailed blue photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

He’s our 2nd post of an Eastern-Tailed  Blue butterfly. Our first post offers a ventral (underside) wing of the wings.

Here the dorsal (upper) wing surface blares the fantastic blue of a fresh, healthy male ETB. Experts use the ‘ETB’ shortcut to identify individuals of this butterfly species.

About in June on a moist trail at Raccoon Creek State Park, he is taking up water and all of those minerals that we learned about on that beloved Periodic Table of Elements. Why are males more likely to be seeking minerals? Because males spend much of their day flying around searching for females. This extended flight time results in a good deal of protein wear and tear and . . . they’ll need fresh mineral caches to synthesize brand-new protein molecules (these elements are part of the make-up of different protein molecules).

Everes comyntas prefer trails and cut and disturbed areas and you’ll see them from April to late September. When disturbed they fly as short distance, close to the ground and set down perhaps 20 feet down trail.

The ladies don’t have blue above. Instead their dorsal wing color is gray.

How large are ETB’s? Tiny, about the width of your thumbnail. But . . . they’re pookies, perky, waif-like and pretty, especially their black and orange/red markings (see our other posting).

Where are they during February? They winter over as (eggs, papa, larva, adults). Which is it?


The Tiny and Usually Solitary Gray Hairstreak Butterfly

Gray hairstreak butterfly photographed at Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA

Like the other Hairstreaks, the Gray Hairstreak butterfly is tiny and usually solitary. If your approach is slow and steadily toward its perch, it usually remains in place and allows you to examine it close up. This image approximates what your first meeting will look like.

So while this was 1 of 2 we saw that morning, Strymon melinus is always exciting to see. That’s appreciated because it permits you to position yourself, decide upon the optimum background and light and collect 50 or more exposures.

Most of our best images are those with wings closed, revealing the underside of the wings (ventral). Our subject here is most likely a female. We have a good view of antenna, those pookie eyes, the grays, whites, oranges, reds and black of the wings, reddish/orangish patch, blue field and 2 pairs of tails.

Photographed on July 28th, they may be seen from May through early October.

This is our 2nd post of a Gray. Our next one will be a Gray Hairstreak perched with wings open. You’ll like that one.

When they are disturbed, they usually fly to a new perch about 10 feet away. They are very accommodating and thoughtful.

Yep, when I spot a Gray Hairstreak, it’s a real pick me up! They are beauts!


Announcing A New Feature

Jeff Zablow in the green/blue’s

We’re announcing a vital new feature for

Now when you click on any of our images, you will be treated to an enlarged image.

This makes it so much easier to enjoy and examine the great beauty of the butterflies that we post.

Happy viewing!