The Challenge of Photographing Zebra Swallowtails

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Eastern Neck National Wildlife refuge, MD

Where were the Zebra swallowtails? We arrived at the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge nice and early. 8:30, 9:00, 9:30 A.M., lots of different butterflies, but no Eurytides marcellus. Weren’t we going to be treated to the thrill of seeing these strikingly beautiful butterflies here on the unique Delmarva peninsula?
10:15 and then, here they come! One, two and finally a third Zebra swallowtail appear, as if they arrived together. I think that they did come in, the 3 of them at the same time together.

It’s special, when Zebras are there. Then comes the challenge. Photographing them. They just don’t cooperate. Either they’re keeping a distance, or they’re nectaring, with wings moving furiously, befuddling you. How to get a good image of these gems, when they won’t stay still?

They were at the northern extreme of their usual range, and easily reachable from Silver Springs and home in Pittsburgh.

Neither Zebra swallowtails or their host plants, Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) are believed to be native to the United States. Good, because when they show up, it’s a game changer!


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