Tropical Leafwing Butterfly

Tropical leafwing butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Leafwings? I’ve seen three Goatweed Leafwings over these years. I scored not a single image of any of them. In both Mississippi and Southwestern Pennsylvania, I was on trail and a leaf suspended from the trunk of a smallish tree caught me eye. I approached, stared, realized that I was peering at a Goatweed Leafwing butterfly and realized too that I photograph butterflies and How Much I Want An Image Of A Goatweed! During that unfortunate mini-moment, those Goatweeds flew: Vamoose!

Here at the National Butterfly Center’s gardens in Mission, Texas near the border wall, it was December 2017 when that changed. We saw this Tropical Leafwing (Anaea aidea) on a ‘bait-log,’ smeared with banana, beer and more. She tolerated moments of approach, then flew to this tree limb. I shoot Macro- (Canon ISM 100mm/2.8) and got as close to her as safely possible, and shot, shot, shot.

These are my first images of a Leafwing, and a Tropical at that!

What do you think? Is she is the looker? No?


The Very Cute Clytie Ministreak Butterfly

Clytie ministreak butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

I shared with you a Erato heliconian butterfly, a Malachite butterfly and a very large Monarch butterfly. I saw them all at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas near the border wall. Truth be told, we’d see a butterfly, then those with me would whisper its name. Me, with substantial hearing loss in my right ear, would struggle to hear what they said. They’d whisper “Erato!” and standing to their left, I’d (LOL) revert to my Brooklyn roots and ask who’d name a butterfly “Erotic?” This query garnered interesting looks, but not laughs.

The last week in December 2017, and here again with moderate excitement they’d share in low voice, Clytie Ministreak butterfly. ‘Clytie what?’ Know too that this was fun, much fun over that nearly a week in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas.

Ministreaks are hairstreaks. All hairstreaks fascinate me. Nearly all hairstreaks are tiny, very tiny. When I was a kid, those boys who couldn’t give back what they got, stayed inside their homes after they came home from school. These hairstreaks, absent the ability to strike back, amaze this city kid, for they perch on their flowers in full view, nectaring with no visual rush, and slowly move about the flowerhead, oblivious to the Macro- photographer now within 18 inches away. I have never seen a hairstreak assaulted while it was feeding at a flower, or while it was perched on a leaf. Within one hundred feet of this pookie butterfly are birds, wasps, lizards, beetles, darners, and mantids. This natural world brings out the amazed boy in me, in so many ways.

Lots of friends and family remain puzzled at this, what I do. Me? For me it begins with Clytie what?


The Malachite Butterfly

Malachite butterfly (facing right) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

More than 20 years of field work, seeking butterflies. All that time, here and there, I’d see shared images of Malachites. Big, big butterflies sometimes seen in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and in southern Florida. No problem trying to figure out what they are when you spot them, for there’s nothing else like them. You think you see a Malachite, then it’s a Malachite. The size, rich minty green encapsulated amongst dark border, leaves no room for doubt. Problem was, I’d never seen one. Texas delivered my first ever Malachite.

Our previous wingedbeauty post was an Erato Heliconian butterfly. Uncommon in the LGRV, but onstage for my last week in December 2017 visit to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas near the border wall. I was just miles from Mexico.

This Malachite here was seen relaxing on a broad leaf, in dappled shade. It was very close to where I’d seen the Erato. A fine, cooperative subject, it held this pose for some time, enabling some 4 or 5 folks the opportunity for good shots.

Many minutes after holding this wings fully open pose, it closed it’s wings, providing us with many minutes to study and photograph its ventral wings. It was magnificent. Some of the others had seen Malachites before, and I heard it said that this was the finest one they had seen. Good, very Good.

Me? I was thinking again of the craft of the D-signer, and I was reminded of those moments in my life when I was close to celebrity. They poised; coiffured and confident. That’s our Malachite here.

Awe, elegance, those kinds of words shoot into your thinking.


Closely Related to Monarchs, presenting the Queen Butterfly

Queen butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Great News! My images shot in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas are now safely set in my Media Library, and ready to be shared. Six days of introduction after introduction to new, and often rare butterflies.

The last week of 2017 and just miles from the Mexican border, this fine Queen butterfly was one of hundreds that I saw over those 6 days. Something like their closely related Monarch butterflies, Queens prove much more difficult to approach and photograph. They are very aware, skittish and frustrate the photographer. As you settle in for a good one of a fresh Queen, it will leave as you are preparing to set in on your knee for the Macro photo capture.

Most of the people that I saw those days seemed oblivious to the Queens. Me? I’d seen them before, but very rarely, and seeing platoons of them was yes, something to behold.

It was work, I tell you, constantly reminding yourself that these are Queens, not Monarchs.

This one on a mistflower in the gardens of the National Butterfly Center, Mission Texas, near the border wall. I flew to San Antonio and then took a four hour drive to McAllen and then had 6 days of beautiful butterflies. Rare ones came out to great me.

And yes, those Queens!


Hairstreaks Teach . . . Respect

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

They’ve been good to me, these Yeats have. Hairstreaks? So, so many. Striped hairstreak was my first, seen in Rector, Pennsylvania at Powdermill Reserve (University of Pittsburgh’s aviary research station). Grays, Banded, Coral, White ‘M,’ Red-banded and Acadian. That’s what I met by the end of 2016.

2017 nicely expanded my Hairstreak list: Edwards hairstreak (Ohio), Clytie Ministreak (National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas), Tropical Greenstreak (at ‘The Wall’ in Mission, Texas), Juniper hairstreak (Panola Mountain State Park, Georgia), Dusky-blue Groundstreak (National Butterfly Center) and Gold-bordered hairstreak (‘The Wall).

2018 is young still. Oh, how I look forward to combing Ohio, Texas, Georgia and Nevada for hairstreaks and more. Dave enabled me to reach out to Georgia’s DNR folks, and they gave me a strong lead for finding Hessel’s hairstreaks in April. I wish.

That long said, I had to stop and well, admire this image of mine of a very shmeksy! and fresh Gray hairstreak. Now that I am in the big leagues of hairstreak chasers, what’s a fresh, gorgeous Gray mean to me?

Truth be told, more than you’d like, most hairstreaks are not fresh, and sport wings with heavy scale loss that cause dulling of color. So down in the Rio Grande Valley, late December 2017, folks came speeding over when a rare hairstreak was found at ‘The Wall.’ I was there early, and some of them were rare, for sure, but long in the tooth, that is, kind of worn-looking.

Grays, like ours here, are usually seen in good color, fresh, perky and just pookies! They pose, prance on a flowerhead, and just demand that I shoot my Fuji Velvia, not hold back.

Rare, uncommon, OMG! hairstreaks excite, but an excellent Gray hairstreak still demands stop, look and shoot.