Orange Delight! AKA Winter Antidote IX

Wasp on Butterfly Weed, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

High today in Pittsburgh, predicted to be 16F. Shoveled that 1″ of snow that fell overnight. Truth be told, I need a Winter Antidote, pronto! Opened my 2014 images, and this one is spot on.

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Tuberosa) was in bloom that 3rd week in July at Doak field (Raccoon Creek State Park, Southwestern Pennsylvania). There were a limited number of these milkweeds, and they were the rich, deep orange that I love. In the morning, they are nectar pumps, and butterflies, bees, wasps, diurnal moths all pay visits to sip sweet nectar, their version of jet fuel.

On July 14th I stationed myself alternately at 2 or 3 of the plants, and waited. The time spent was good. I was not alone much.

Then, “Huh?” This wasp alighted on the blooms. A newbie for me, even after 18 years in the field. Then I saw it. That ½ orange/ ½ black abdomen. Orange delight! The perfect complement to the orange blooms. Beauty in the raw.

Without a field guide at Raccoon Creek, I arrived home to find that this was a Great Golden Digger Wasp. “I beg your pardon?” This type of wasp is found throughout much of the United States and Canada, but solitary and surely uncommon. The adults nectar on flowers. They capture food for their larvae by paralyzing crickets and katydids and then dropping them into their burrows in the ground.

July’s eye candy was painted in a natural orange tone that I love. I long to get back out there.


Winter Antidote VIII

Monarch Butterfly on Goldenrod Blooms photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 9/5/14
August 2014, we all remember, made us all anxious. Internationally, things were bizarre. Here in the U.S., almost no Monarchs were seen. The fear of losing these magnificent winged beauties was saddening. Young kids have their cell phones, Xboxes, and all those other devices that monopolize their attention. Those privileged to not be so addicted, have the blue sky, flower blooms and Monarch butterflies. Monarchs that have seen Mexico and New Orleans, at least.

With ice covering almost everything this morning, we share this exhilarating images of the rest of the story. September 5th, and our heroine breakfasted that morning on the nectar of goldenrod blooms, millions of them from which to choose. We’re in Doak field, Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. An 8 hour drive west from New York, New York.

She is truly a winged beauty. Her colors and hues fresh, and a winter antidote, for your eyes to savor. Agree?

The reports from Mexico are encouraging. Improved numbers, besting the dismal counts of 2014. Jeff is ecstatic. There will be Monarch butterflies to anticipate in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Kansas and Maine this year, G-d willing.