Large Salmon Arab Butterfly

Large Salmon Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Binyamina, Israel

Our 2nd post of a male Madais Faust. Here we view the ventral (below-the-wing) surface. Our earlier view of a Large Salmon Arab examines the dorsal (upper) wing features.

An example of the Pieridae species, the Madais Faust is related to the white butterflies and the yellow butterflies that are so well known around the globe. This of course is an Israeli Pieridae. North American Pierids include the abundant Cabbage White butterflies as well as the common Orange Sulphur butterflies.

Reference guides explain that the yellow wing color is caused by high concentrations of stored uric acid.  Uric acid is the nitrogenous compound produced when proteins are metabolized. This stored uric acid reflects ultraviolet light. How that UV radiation is reflected impacts the courtship and reproduction success of each individual. Neat, huh?



Gray Hairstreak

Gray Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh

Things that I love?  They include chocolate chip cookies, roast chicken, mint chip ice cream, cara cara oranges, broiled lamb chops, sweet potatoes, apple pie, and fresh Gray Hairstreak Butterflies.

I work a flower bed, this one in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory, seeking butterflies to photograph, always searching for individuals more beautiful than those you’ve seen before. Invariably I am looking for good-sized fliers. Don’t large butterflies fascinate? Aren’t little butterfly species not very interesting? What is that?  Is it a tiny little butterfly resting in that bed of zinnias?

Strymon melinus. She is a looker! Her ventral gray color is rich, and her pair of hindwing tails are intact. Her red-black-white dash-line is vivid  on her hind wing. Her posture is erect and assured. Her lipstick-red colored patch was doing what lipstick red does: Hello!

Things that I love? Photographing Gray Hairstreak butterflies just fresh from make-up, costume and stylist; patiently awaiting the lucky photographer.  I was determined to share her full beauty amidst her generous and sylvan home. She posed for my camera, then tired of the session. She fled.


Large Salmon Arab Butterfly

Large Salmon Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Binyamina, Israel

I’m not sure how to explain what happened. Working the agricultural field roads north of Binyamina, Israel, Madais Fausta flew in now and again to eat the nectar on Camphor weed blooms. They appeared in groups of two or three. Within minutes they were gone. Ten minutes later they reappeared. This behavior continued from about 9:45 A.M. until about 11 A.M., but that’s not what continues to puzzle me.

What I cannot fathom is why I methodically photographed these butterflies on three sunny mornings with no wind, good sun and little or no distraction from man, beast or donkey, and yet I scored less than a handful of “keepers.” Keepers are slides that meet my demanding requirements: excellent wing exposure and detail; good positioning of the butterfly (never with the posterior end facing you); vibrant color in both the butterfly and wildflower; as sharp as possible images of eyes, antenna and abdomen. I photographed more than 45 slides and yet I have only two or three keepers? Por que?

Monarchs in the U.S. are superb subjects. I am more than pleased with the many images of them in my library. Hairstreak butterflies photograph quite well. Tiger swallowtails, spicebush swallowtails, eastern black swallowtails, pipevine swallowtails all constantly move their wings violently as they nectar, but even so, I have been able to photograph very satisfying images. Tiny blues and azures also deliver terrific images.

Large Salmon Arabs are very pleasing to the eye. They are a sweet, sweet yellow with nicely contrasting black markings. Somehow, the camera lens does not like them. How can this be?

Photographing children reveals that the camera lens loves some of them and never seems to be so kind to other youngsters. Is that why top models succeed and other aspiring models do not?

Here then is a smallish butterfly that flies much of the year in Israel and the Sinai.  It is like a dab of sunshiny butter on the wing. It is also very serious about eating nectar.



Canada is a Wildlife Wonder with Toronto’s Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto Canada

Toronto, Canada. I was visiting Toronto which is clean, welcoming and beautiful. Along with my wide angle lens, I often bring along my Macro- lens on trips which include photography. I try to keep my Canon camera as busy as possible, and I ask around if there are any nearby parks in the city, parks that might host a population of butterflies. Yes, I was told, why don’t you drive to West Don Park? It is an easy 10 minute drive from my hosts. I was blessed with light traffic and courteous drivers. My Pennsylvania license plates provided me with quite a bit of latitude once it was noted that I was a visitor.

West Don Park? Bingo! A gold mine of butterflies that particular week in mid-July.

In Western Pennsylvania I encounter Nymphalis Antiopa infrequently in the spring and even less often in the fall months. Often, the individual butterflies I see are worn and show evidence of failed attacks from predators. This morning in West Don was sunny, no wind and milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca) was in bloom. Three Mourning Cloak butterflies were eating nectar on a single milkweed plant. OMG! Back home I rarely see them nectaring, and those that I do approach, flee once I am within ten feet. Nymphalis Antiopa in Toronto allowed me to approach and photograph from just 18 inches away, and they were sizable butterflies. My heart must have been pounding! I was in a heaven of Mourning Cloak butterflies.

These butterflies had fresh colors and an absence of  significant wing damage. Their colors were a rich, rich maroon; carribean islands blue, and sunflower yellow. This image captures many of those striking hues.

Is this a candidate for being my favorite butterfly? I answer with a sheepish y-e-s. Our two earlier Mourning cloak posts do hint at my little secret.

Canada is the wildlife wonder that I long understood you to be. Mourning Cloaks photographed while eating nectar. Can you imagine?

August will soon be upon us. Can our Canadian followers suggest a suitable park, with a rich butterfly population, that is within driving distance of Pittsburgh, Pa?  Toronto was a 6.5 hours drive.


A Mile from the Mediterranean, We Find a Dainty Little Copper Butterfly

Lesser Fiery Copper Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Binyamina, Israel

We are looking at a dainty little Lycaena Thersamon Omphale: An Israeli copper butterfly found in much of Israel and in part of the Egyptian Sinai. It’s November, and I was shooting photographs a mile from the Mediterranean.

Sure I followed the Copper Butterfly from Camphor weed flower to flower. She didn’t seem to be alarmed when I made my careful approach. The several hundred readers who viewed our Technique feature have seen my stalking strategy.

I’m asked do I tire of photographing butterflies? Take this photograph for example. A visit with my daughter in Binyamina, Israel, mostly famous for its winery and palm trees enables me to also seek and photograph butterflies I’ve never seen before. As I’ve seen way too many U.S. western movies and who knows how much footage of lions and cheetahs stalking prey on the African veldt, moving silently and slowly to capture photographs of wild butterflies remains for me, a time-tested challenge. The exquisite beauty of these winged beauties, bejeweled in their oranges, blacks, reds, yellows, blues, purples and shades of the above are the reward. These butterflies are as beautiful as anything you will view at the magnificent jewelry exhibitions at the auction galleries in New York, London and Tokyo. I have seen jewelry exhibitions in New York for more than a decade. The Creator’s work trumps the work of the artisans. No doubt about it.