Great Spangled Fritillary

Great spangled fritillary butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

June 23 at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. Hmm. Sitting here in mid-November, would I so like to hop into my Tundra tomorrow morning and drive to see this female Speyeria cybele as she purposefully moves from one Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) flower to the next. There are many bloggers and Facebook contributors urging us to plant Asclepias in our gardens and lots. This is an excellent initiative. Milkweeds support so, so many butterfly populations. After much time in the field, you are always watchful when you approach a stand of Common milkweed. Why? Because they are a beacon that draws all types of butterflies…you never know when a tortoiseshell or a hairstreak or who knows what will fly into those sweetly aromatic blossoms.

Great spangleds are such inspirational  butterflies. You encounter them on trails at the forest edge, in the morning fleeing from the trail edge when you approach. That adrenaline rush, yours!, is a good wake me up! when you reach your photo opp destination. Weeks later you see some of them again, worn, tattered with significant wing damage, but…still flying, with their mission apparently still unsettled….

Now on the subject of seeking objectives yet unaccomplished, today I completed my second read of Robert Michael Pyle’s Mariposa Road. I enjoyed it as much as I did the first read. No kidding. Pyle’s Big year effort reignited my thinking and I may well shoot for the stars in 2014. Travel. Travel to photograph butterflies that are eye tantalizing and found in very reduced habitat. Of course I don’t merit the large following that Pyle does, but I do have a Big wind to my back…the almost overwhelming joy I experience when I find and photograph new butterflies. Then, when I score good to excellent images…Kappow!

Tomorrow I open a 1955 book noted several times by Pyle, Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher’s Wild America (Houghton Mifflin, 1955). OMG! What must it have been like, going to undeveloped, unscrewed-up wilderness in the U.S. in the 1950’s. I occasionally find myself trying to imagine Pennsylvania in the early, mid- and late 1800’s. Cougar in the county in which I live. No way!

A little more than 7 months until Great spangled frits fly again in my county, Allegheny. Regals? Diana’s? Yum yum yum yum! as they say….

Jeff

3 thoughts on “Great Spangled Fritillary

  1. Jeff, check out Andrea Wulf’s The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession for a great description of Pennsylvania and the other Atlantic colonies in the 18th century. American history through a fresh lens- We saw a yellow sulphur this week, believe it or not ;-) Best wishes for 2014! WG

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      • A misty, overcast beginning to it- with the remaining red and gold leaves so bright against the grey. At least it will be warm today, which is good for the few bees and sulphurs still hanging around. Best wishes- WG

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