Erato Heliconian at the National Butterfly Center in Mission Texas

Erato heliconian butterfly (Dorsal view) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

A beautiful day at the National Butterfly Center (NBC) in Mission, Texas. The extensive perennials beds of the NBC’s gardens and trails were just loaded with butterflies! Most of them, new to me. Battle stations!! The few other people there, that last week in December, 2017 were skilled butterfly folks.

Someone told us, excitedly, that an Erato Heliconian butterfly had been spotted at the head of a nearby trail, in a sunken trench like crevice that runs about 300 feet. Judging from the electricity that that news! dished up, I sped there too, wondering (I have severe hearing loss in one ear) who would name a butterfly an “Erotic” anything. LOL.

We got there, and two wonderful men showed us where it was. OMG! It was stunning.The black was jet black. The yellow was bright yellow. The red? My red. Lipstick red is the kind of red that always caught my attention way back when.

This was a very fresh, screamingly exquisite butterfly. It rested there, for many minutes. It tolerated my robotic approach and remained in pose as I shot away. The lighting was not ideal, subdued. It remained in place as several others photographed it, most with telephoto lenses. It remained there more, and I left, not expecting to see that magnificent butterfly ever again.

I returned some 15 or so minutes later. All of its admirers have gone. I made yet another slow, robotic approach. Good. It remained in place. After some moments, it flew. I watched it, my Erato as it flew straight, away along the trail that forms the bottom of the trench. I watched my Erato fly some 150′ in a straight trajectory, no rising and descending (like Monarchs and Zebra heliconians). No twisting and turning( like Satyrs). I was transfixed! Those red bands remained in full sight all of the time. Never did they not reveal.

My conclusion? Erato heliconians must be toxic. Oh, it’s gotta be. Those red bands surely advise all potent predators, “See my red. bands? I am one toxic Erato”

I left that low-lying trail, heavily in shade, warmly appreciative of this eye opener, product of the D-signer.


2 thoughts on “Erato Heliconian at the National Butterfly Center in Mission Texas

  1. With those vibrant colors, I would have no problem at all naming it eroticus beauticalis . lol.
    I had the joyous pleasure of seeing this beauty and malachites in Cleveland at a magnificient tropical forest display of flora and winged fauna . Walking among them and photographing them in a very realistic environment was perhaps the most fantastic experience of my life- I could have spent a week there dawn to dusk and still not gotten enough of it. So I can imagine what it must have been like to see them in their true native habitat, and truly feel the abundance of the D-signer in creating such breathtaking beauty for us to enjoy.
    You are indeed a fortunate man to be able to travel as you do and be so generous in sharing that joy with the rest of us who understand why you have chosen this path to follow.

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