You Can Never Predict What You’ll See When Photographing Butterflies

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

It was September 2006 and I got an education that morning. I was questioning whether it was worthwhile going out that morning to photograph. I’d already seen all the butterflies of Raccoon Creek State Park, hadn’t I? It was September. September! It must be too late in the season to spot anything to get excited over.

Moving through a plowed trail in Nichol Field, a butterfly suddenly flew in from my right and descended onto the cut grass some 20 feet ahead. I did not recognize the flight as anything I was familiar with.

I made a nice, cautious approach and OMG! Something new and different! September! and a butterfly I had never seen before. The spots and fields in its wings were bright yellow. Bright yellow. They were set against a beautiful deep chocolate brown base color. Hesperia leonardus is the last of the skipper butterflies to appear.

She remained motionless for many minutes, I shot away, exposing at least 40 images. This image was a good one.

So here’s what I learned: Avoid becoming jaded and remember that when photographing butterflies you can never predict what you’ll see.