Satyr Stumped

Little Wood Satyr Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, August 2014

Georgia next week, and a short run down to the Florida Panhandle. Oh, Oh how I hope to see Satyrs in both states. I know understand it. It’s become clear to me. I simple love satyr butterflies. Add Eyespot patterned butterflies to that. I’ve seen this one alot, the Little Wood Satyr, and Wood Nymphs. 2015 has introduced me to Carolina satyrs (the Briar Patch in Eatonton,  Georgia) and Eyed browns (Clay Pond in western New York).

I’m ‘rippin to get a look at Georgia Satyrs, Gemmed Satyrs and the far away Red Satyrs. Robert Michal Pyle so poignantly described his affinity  for Magdalena Alpines that I’ve thought more than once about how cool it would be to share a good image here. That tempered by my thing with heights, and those fallen rock phenomena that they prefer. Magdalena also prefer flying at very high mountain altitudes. Without anyone to accompany me, I am chastened by having read of near instant storms and calamities on far western peaks.

So Satyrs and their closely related species reminds me of the rich shoe leathers and spiffy brown hats that I used to want to have, together with chocolate brown suits, as I was a messenger in New York, New York, that paying for college, food, clothing, and everything else. I used to pass those young execs all bedecked out in Madison Avenues finest . . . and that evokes satyrs and eyespot browns, to me.

Why ‘Satyr Stumped?’ Because I’m afraid that my larger audience here does not share that affection for the warmth of browns, and all the travel, expense, mountain climbing and Brooklyn boy keeping a keen eye out for big-bad critters, as I did long ago look out for seriously rough guys, would in the end result in modest interest, from a handful of esthetes. Is not blogging about bringing in the herd?


Caterpillars at Home in Pittsburgh!

Monarch butterfly caterpillar photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

See this? While watering my front garden in Pittsburgh this afternoon, for the umpteenth time I thought: Why are there no Monarch caterpillars on the gorgeous front patch of Common milkweed? Milkweed with a solid pedigree, purchased from Monarch Watch, no less. Six and seven foot tall plants, looking lush and strong, and watered whenever there is no rain.

Whoa! What is that on that leaf? Battle stations! Quick dash to get closer. Datta! Da! Dah! A monarch caterpillar, under a large leaf, about 4 feet above the ground. What an antidote to what was a day of way too much challenge. Then the search. There. There. On an adjacent milkweed, another caterpillar, again probably 3rd instar.

Just like y’all in Georgia, Michigan, Illinois, New York, Virginia and Massachusetts, Jeffrey now has Monarch “cats” on Jeffrey’s milkweed. I’ve seen only a single Monarch this year in Pittsburgh, and that was a female, flying in the side yard four days ago, late in the afternoon. Others have reported that they have caterpillars on their lots, but have barely seen adults. Explain that would you?

A happy camper, I.


NB, Soon will be posting butterflies from Georgia, Israel (including rare Parnassians), northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York.

Butterfly Opps . . .

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa - Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap. (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

At the front of this fraction of the 130 people who came from near and far (Maryland, at the least) to see and marvel over Regal Fritillary butterflies, I enjoyed (no, really enjoyed) every moment of this July 10th, 2015 field opp at Ft. Indiantown  Gap’s Annual Butterfly Tour. Joseph Hovis and Dave McNaughton combined to make this a spectacular outing. July 9th, stormy, tornado warnings out. The day you see, sunny, warm, no wind, moderate humidity. Their staff and volunteers shepherded all of us effectively. Jake Fronko, an Environmental Science staffer, provided much background information, and once there were 3 of us, often ahead of the others, Jake was a keen spotter. My images are back from Kansas, and include several good ones, including mating Regals. There are not enough of these opportunities available. If there are more than I am aware of, why aren’t they know to me, us? Done effectively, as this one sure was, there is minimal impact on habitat, and maximum field education of a whole lot of earnest supporters of the environment. American Butterflies (Spring/Summer 2015) arrived in the mailbox recently. This NABA magazine features Definitive Destination: Big Bend WMA, Florida by David Harder, Virginia Craig, Dean Jue and Sally Jue. It is now my plan to visit there in August. Three days there could expand my life list of butterflies big time. My only visits to Florida were in 1962, when I and another loco hitched from Binghamton, NY to Miami (and nearly got killed, lynched more than once) and in 1978 when I flew to Miami, drove my rental through the Everglades, and spent time in Naples. Butterfly Opps, opportunities to see, taste, smell and hear the siren’s song of Butterfly wonderment. ‘Hobby?’ Uh, uh. We need more of them, Thank You. Jeff

10 Years of Patience . . . Pays Off Regally

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa - Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap. (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

Mysterious, very protected, studied, and by all accounts, beautiful. A butterfly that once flew in my hometown, Brooklyn, New York (Butterfly People by Willam Leach, Pantheon Books). Today the only known colony of them in the Eastern U.S. is in central Pennsylvania, and flying in the middle of a military reservation. Gone from Maine to Florida, yet whispers heard that the Regal Fritillary (Speyeria Idalia) really was doing fine in that rolling “prairie” grassland, just ½ hour drive from Harrisburg, the state capitol. 2015 was to be a bit of a bust-out year for me, a push me / shove me year that would include more travel and more chutzpah. Israel in March. Went to the far northern Galilee to find a rare protected Parnassian, that flew in March, only March. We’ll share those images shortly. Went to Georgia, at the invitation of Eatonton’s Briar Patch habitat, with southern butterflies galore. Went to the Allegheny National Forest and nearby Jamestown Audubon Center, both eye candy for anyone seeking butterflies. Suffered a personal loss, the death of my father, which brought me back to Georgia, where he was interred in the Georgia Memorial Veterans Cemetery, and a U.S. Army trumpeter to set the sad tone. Still, more than 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to shoot butterflies that were threatened with extirpation (extinction). I’ve spent so much time amongst fritillaries, and it was time, I should see and photograph the beauty of them all (fair or unfair?) the Regal Fritillary. Where could I find it? Jet to Illinois or farther Midwest, or see them at Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in Pennsylvania. Let me leave it at this, the people at the forefront of our organizations did not return my calls, or letters. 10 years went by. On Facebook, a group member, new to me, noted a few weeks ago that Fort Indiantown Gap was conducting Regal Fritillary tours to all comers, no reservations required. Huh? 194 miles from Pittsburgh, Thursday night in a Hampton Inn in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, then Friday morning, July 10th, there I was . . . one of 130 people there for the tour. The rain/thunder of the day before was gone, with sun, sun, sun and no wind. The Regal Frits were flying in good numbers. The males speeding along, seeking females. The females were calmly moving from Butterfly weed to Butterfly weed. The crowd thinned, until we were three, me, a pleasant woman, and Jake, a naturalist on staff at Fort Indiantown Gap. Is it not evident that I am having a really good time? Regals are beautiful. Though they seem as carefree as Great Spangled frits, you know that they are so, so rare. Protected by the Pennsylvania National Guard, US Army, and the OMG! F-16’s flying way above. 2.5 hours of Jeff giddiness. I have seen and photographed one of the most evasive butterflies in the United States.The slides are at this moment in Kansas, then they go the Rewind Memories here in Pittsburgh, then we shall see what we shall see. The Jeff you see here is a very relaxed Jeff, only thinking of seizing this opportunity to the fullest, and very, very Thankful. 10 years, do you get it? Jeff

“This is a Picture of a Monarch when they Used to . . . “

Monarch Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at
Not this morning. I just came back into the house, after checking the front and sideyard Common Milkweed plants. Most of the 40 or so flower heads have gone to seed now, and with just 7 or 8 still in bloom, that nagging thought returns.

Back in the house, to my Neumade slide cabinet, I took out all of my Monarch slides, and checked their dates. The oldest of them lacked pencil-written dates, though one from June 2002 gave me pause. June 2002, a female nectaring contentedly on Teasel. Who among us in the last 3 years has been fortunate enough to see that?

My July ‘keepers’ were taken where this image of a female was taken, in Raccoon Creek State Park, just 45 minutes west of Pittsburgh (8 hours west of New York  City). July 12th and 27th, respectively.

My August best were taken in August ’09, ’10, and ’12, and ’14. The Septembers are dated ’07, ’10, and ’14.

I just don’t want to ever have to say to a young, interested child, “This is a picture of a Monarch butterfly, when they used to . . . . ”

Resigned to bad news, no. But I want this winged beauty in my future.