All those Spots, Cells, Dashes and Lines– Strymon melinus!

Gray Hairstreak butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 9/21/06

Me too. I simply, almost, cannot wait to get out into the field again, and find and photograph butterflies. That last trip, December 21 through December 28th, left me almost, speechless. The Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Texas!

Butterflies, one new one after another. From those common to that area (all new to me) to those hardly ever seen there (also new to me), it was all that I had been reading and hearing about for these last decades. When? Well they are now at Rewind Memories in Pittsburgh, and Katie is scanning them for me, and soon, we will together amaze over Tropical leafwings, Erato heliconians, Red-rimmeds, Tropical green streaks, Mexican fritillaries and Malachites.

This is the time for us to reflect. Studying this Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), I concentrated on a push me – pull you of photographing butterflies. I have seen many, many Grays in these last, What?, 25 years. Each and every time I see one of these solitary butterflies, you would think that I’d not take the 2 seconds to stop and have a look. Don’t I already have a fine library of them in my Neumade slide cabinet? I do. Happily I do.

Then why do I linger longer when I come across a Gray? It came to me immediately. I want to find one whose large orange spots are yet larger, whose rear wing post median lines are even redder, blacker and whiter than this beauts! Whose modest blue field, near the tiny tails, is ever blue. I want one whose ventral wing surface is that true gray, say every grayer than this one.

When we found that breathtaking Malachite at the National Butterfly Center, just weeks ago, several folks with extensive experience with this very large, very green butterfly shared that this one was perhaps the most beautiful one they’d ever seen. The green, which I will soon share, was I Love That Green green. Should I ever see another Malachite, I will be all eyes, Is this one more striking than the Malachite of the winter of ’17?

Ever more handsome Giant swallowtails, Pipevine swallowtails with that dreamy blue iridescence, Red-spotted purples with shocking red spots and another brand of iridescence, Zebras heliconians that put African zebras to shame, Eastern pygmy blues that make the back numbing job of photographing them lead to a bonanza! Long-tailed skippers with the Most exquisite blue-green since that trip we made to the Isle of Capri.

I Love this one of Strymon melinus, met in Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania. When our paths cross, know though that I’m out to grab a very good image of this year’s model, with subtle refinements and improvements. Yep.