The Official Memorial Day Butterfly . . . My Vote?

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Today is Memorial (Decoration) Day 2016. Many of the interactions I’m seeing are very touching and some are tinged with downright sadness. Many have lost loved ones, who fought with their own blood and life to keep us free. They taught us that in PS 244 in Brooklyn. It stuck. My Dad served in WWII. I served in a 155mm artillery unit in the NYARNG.

As my thoughts circle the gravity of this Day, I remember something I often concentrate on when I’m shooting in the field. I remember several times a year that I want to get a better shot of the underside (ventral) of the wings of Red Admiral butterflies. Opps have been elusive, but I am wired to be on the lookout for more and better.

Why? Because that Red, White and Blue that you see here reminds me of our American flag, which I have alway admired. Red Admirals are fast and wary, and I keep seeking to best this image, which must do . . . for now.

Jeff

NB, This one was nectaring with 100% concentration on Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). This year I have about 40 of those Monarch hostplants in my own garden. It’s easy, and it’s so giving, to butterflies, moths, flies, bees . . . and more.

June 3, This June 3rd

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Jamestown Audubon Center in Jamestown, NY.

When we spotted this Baltimore Checkerspot, I froze in place. Can this be real? Now how often does that thought confront you? I’ve learned to not hesitate, when a super-beautiful butterfly appears. No, hesitate not a 1/1,000 of a second. Act. Act quickly, but in that robotic slo-mo described in our Technique feature here.

This Baltimore is a butterfly high on everyone’s List. I hadn’t seen one for years. Not more than 25 feet from the entrance to the Jamestown Audubon  Center, it had chosen to stop (and rest?) on a small cut lawn, within several feet of the Center’s Butterfly Garden. I was introduced to the Jamestown Audubon Center last year, and quickly enjoyed the warmth and friendly greeting from its staff and volunteers. That welcome continued. I have visited other Audubon Centers. Jamestown’s might offer a Workshop = How to sustain an outreaching, friendly Audubon Center.

I was invited to do a Butterfly presentation and field walk at the JAC. Good. Very Good. That June 3rd program will include a PowerPoint presentation, field walk and brownbag lunch. Jamestown, New York is in very western New York state, east of Erie, Pa..

This NYC high school Biology teacher, and later Pittsburgh Public Schools high school Biology teacher comes with a full career of introducing youngsters to the living world around them. Our family photo albums include several photos of me, a child, hunched over, examining living things. I’m in, totally.

Euphydras phaeton (it’s species name) and its hostplant, Turtlehead are certainly not common, but, they lived side-by-side with this nation’s first residents, and they were probably there to greet the new, immigrants who came from abroad, to make this their home. Baltimore are still here, though a wee bit more difficult to find.

Oh, How I wish You could All join us for this program!

Jeff

Mystery [to Jeff] Moth Id’d!

Moth photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

My eye caught it. My brain knew it was not a butterfly. Jeff’s brain calculated, Moth. Shoot exposures of it? Don’t ‘waste’ good Fuji slide film and add it to the cache of thousands of seen but passed mysteries?

At Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, less than an hour from Pennsylvania’s capitol city of Harrisburg. June 2015. My friends know the images of Regal Fritillaries that I scored that day. What a day, meeting the very rare Regal, in the sun, when the forecast the night before was: Rain.

Well here is what I did. I can’t remember ever seeing this Moth ever before. What is its name? Behavior? Preferred Habitat? Hostplant? Common, but little seen, the fate of night fliers?

Curt is about the only person I know who might recognize it? Phil? Jerry? Rose? Bob Pyle? Nah, what’s the chance of that (I did read like 6 or 7 of his books . . . [Which I recommend]).

Come back again soon, and we should be able to make a formal introduction.

Peter Woods shot back in near record time: That’s a pink-striped oakworm moth, Anisota virginiensis.

Thanks Peter.

More background information would be much appreciated, if you have that valuable commodity!

Jeff

Pipevine Color Pop!

Pipeline Swallowtail Butterfly sipping nector on a thistle photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Marcie McGehee Daniels posted electrifying images of the 1st Pipevine Swallowtail she has ever seen in her yard in South Carolina. Soon there was alot of activity at her Facebook post. I came along shortly after she put her images up, and remembered to come back later last night, and again this morning. Lots of Comments. Lots of ‘Likes.’ Pipevines peak interest. Butterfly enthusiasts really like seeing them, and spread the word. Traffic picks up, and shares follow. You tell me your Pipevine experience, and I’ll tell you mine.

Why does the sudden appearance of Battus philenor bring so much excitement?

Cech and Tudor’s Butterflies of the East Coast (Princeton University Press, 2005) writes “dazzling,” “open flaunting of bright colors,” “cautionary displays [of hot colors].” This image here pleased me, because the orange is bright, the blues are so sweet, the black is total, and the whites on wing and body are sharp. Catch this ventral (lower) view in good sunlight, real-time, and the result is “Wow!” Capture that on an image, and you’ve done well.

Lucky you are to leave with a fine image of the dorsal (upper) view. A fresh male displays a field of flowing blue on its hindwings that forces another “Wow!” whether you consciously meant to or not.

They fly in directly, while you are busy scanning around the wildflower beds, leaving you little time to anticipate. There you are, suddenly realizing that that is not a Spicebush, not a Eastern Black, not a Black-form Eastern tiger swallowtail female!! It’s, it’s  . . . a Pipevine!!! Your brain calculates that hey Jeff Z, you don’t see many of them, and hey Jeff Z, this one is a beaut!!!! Fresh, strong, very shmeksy!!!!! It’s a rush for sure. Will you leave with 20-30 exposures, and therefore the chance of a Winner or two?

How do you insure that you’re chance of seeing them improves? Virginia’s answer to that: Plant their hostplants, native Pipevines. These medium-sized vines increase the odds of seeing them by alot. Curt gave me a pipevine last year. It came through our frigid Pittsburgh winter just fine. So, you can do that too. Obtain several and train them up a trestle, and Presto! you have more good news to look forward to.

When will a Pipevine swallowtail fly into your personal space? Will we be able to hear your suppressed shout of Joy!? Lots of “Oohing” and “Ahing” making this one of the most Pop! butterflies that I know.

Jeff