Pookie Cute Tiny Grass Skipper Butterfly

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

Poanes zabulon is no stranger to those of us who seek out butterflies. They are flying for much of the late Spring and through the summer. Zabulon skippers are one of many species of Skipper butterflies known as Grass skippers. They are quite small and many of them are difficult to identify.

Our female Zabulon here is easier to recognize. She is ‘fresh’ with distinct colors, mahogany-brown, yellow and that almost flashy purply-white outer wing markings. When I began learning about and seeking butterflies, I had an instantaneous connection with Zabulon skippers.

Legions of preteens and teens will surely recognize this one as a certifiable “pookie.”


Just West of Phoenix, White Tank Mountains Regional Park is a Painter’s Palette of Vibrantly Colored Wildflowers

Desert Orangetip Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ

I’ve been to south-central Arizona several times. This was my first visit in early Spring. It was the first week in March 2008 and Arizona enjoyed abundant rain in February. Nirvana!

White Tank Mountains Regional Park, just west of Phoenix was a painter’s palette of vibrantly colored wildflowers. Everywhere, the green was green, the flowers were rich in hue.

It was a terrific time to seek butterflies. They too were abundant and ‘fresh.’ Personally, I had just undergone years of pain, culminating in grave loss. It was so good to be in such a resilient place. The desert in bloom. I needed that.

Anthocharis cethura is a desert orangetip, enjoying the bounty of those early Spring rains.’Though loaded with buttery yellow, it is included in the white butterflies.

I was very glad to have encountered A. cethrua. After all, I was in the right place at the right time. It was an elixir after enduring another Pittsburgh winter.


Arizona’s Elegant Queen Butterfly

Queen Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at White Tank Mountains, AZ. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

This was a wonderful trip to Southcentral Arizona, just outside and west of Phoenix. My wife (OBM) was Cancer-free and we flew to Sun City West to revel in the good news with her mother. I zipped out of there a couple of mornings and worked the trails of White Tank Mountain Regional Park in search of butterflies.

September 9th is not the ideal time to enjoy Arizona’s butterflies, but this trip was very productive. Our Queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus) sped to these wildflowers and nectared for many minutes. His behavior was more relaxed than the nectaring Monarchs we’ve studied. I had waited nearby for some time, because this wildflower species was among the only blossoms in that dry creek. The butterfly’s slowmo movements as it worked the flowers made my patience pay off.

The sky was a generous blue, the plant grew at attractive angles, and our Queen butterfly was very, very elegant. Queens, like the Monarchs that we see back east, prefer Asclepias (milkweed). I am unable to identify the wildflowers in this post. Can you? Is it an Asclepias?

The trip was such a triumph, after years of battle, but Cancer-free was not to be.


Seeing Sure-Footed Behemoth Cows on top of Israel’s Mount Hermon

Cow Grazing on Mt. Hermon photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

Scouring the top of Israel’s Mt. Hermon for its treasure trove of unique butterflies, Eran and I watched as these cows grazed along nearby. We were at Mt. Hermon’s crest! 7,336 feet above sea level.

The owners of this cattle allow them to forage where they will, and they have climbed this rocky peak, calmly and patiently to explore its flora. Oblivious of the occasional land mines still found here and there (remember that we happened onto, oops!, nearby, one) and to the sheer drop, these sure-footed behemoths looked up at us, paused a micro-second, and continued to browse.

The landscape we are sharing here is breathtaking! I could not resist and so we share this view with you. Syria or the Golan Valley? Hmmm?


Painted Lady Butterfly Engrossed in Imbibing a Flower’s Nectar

Painted Lady Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Here it was the first week in October and you would think that butterflies would be few and far between. Nope. Our Vanessa cardui, challenged by the limited selection of nectaring wildflowers, has settled for a meal of Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) sugars.

Judging from the condition of this individual, it would appear that it was produced by a late in the season brood.

Our other posts of Ladies included several that triumphantly were scored after stealthy stalking up to the butterfly. Not necessary this time, because our instant butterfly is 100% engrossed imbibing nectar. Only a reasonably careful approach was necessary.

An occasional visitor to home gardens, their visit is usually a very brief one, and then whooost, gone!

Not known to overwinter here in eastern U.S., the last brood flies all the way to the Mexican plateau. Very impressive, that.