I took a stroll . . . Oops! a scroll down through our more than 800 images. The thought came to my mind, “Which of the butterflies that I have photographed, are the most compliant, which hold their pose, allow me to shoot them? Which produce the most consistently pleasing images?”
Let’s start with which have been the most difficult, most elusive and most frustrating? My personal list begins with Mourning cloak, Georgia satyr, Gemmed satyr, Red-banded hairstreak, Goatweed leafwing and Compton tortoiseshell. In the Lower Rio Grande Valley two weeks ago, I surely add the usual suspects, the Yellows, large and small, and Metalmarks as well as those butterflies that I saw, shot and winced when I realized how beaten-up they were (Hairstreaks, that Mexican Bluewing).
I used to watch the annual Oscars award show on TV, and that interesting moment, when the movie star asked for, “The envelope please,” fits here, so nicely. The butterflies that I have most enjoyed shooting, affording the most enjoyed images? Start with the Monarchs. This one here, on Joe Pye Weed, at Raccoon Creek State Park in Hookstown, southwestern Pennsylvania is one of many Monarch images I am glad to say are mine. Monarchs get the ‘Oscar.’
Easy runner-ups are the Gray hairstreak, Northern metalmark, Red-spotted purple, Tiger swallowtails at sunrise, Red Admiral, Baltimore checkerspot, Great spangled fritillary and the Regal fritillary.
Funny that, how so many people don’t understand why we love and seek out butterflies. You will spend half a lifetime seeking that 12-point buck, or one image, any image of a northeastern cougar or a brief glimpse of a bird not seen in 30 years. OK, those? But really, really want to finally seek and capture an image of a Creole pearly-eye or a Dingy purplewing or a Milbert’s? 98% of folks I’ve ever met don’t see the sense of that.
And what’s in your Envelope Please!