Eastern Black Swallowtails Coupled

Earring Series - Blackswallowtail butterflies coupled, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

A better image of the pair, with the female’s dorsal side in view

I look at this image, photographed Oh so many months ago, in the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat (Eatonton, Georgia) and experience much encouragement. Much.

I detach myself from subjectivity, and walk myself away from my deep connection to this image capture. I study it, with these 2 Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies, she closest to us, he with wings closed and mostly hidden from us.

Truth be told, I am very proud of this photo. Such beauty, grace and form. Sylbie Yon’s shot, taken some minutes later, has been viewed hundreds of times, and can be seen in the series she shot there and then, in our “Jeff’s Earring” section.

That morning was unforgettable.


Zebras Beached

Zebra swallowtail butterflies photographed at Mason's Neck State Park, VA

How many? I may well have shot between 50,000 and 75,000 slides of butterflies over these past few decades. Encouragement came from home, and that was enough fuel for years of fieldwork, taking me from Pittsburgh as far west as Arizona, and to the east to Ein Gedi, Israel, the HolyLand.

Butterflies seen? Countless. Memories? Wow! many. Cows menacing me, the city kid, who grew up “On the Streets,” and never knew a cow could glare. Then there was that Eastern timber rattlesnake that was such a cooperative subject in Rector, PA that this Brooklyner suddenly realized, Mwaw! was within easy striking distance of the 6-footer! There was the Yucca Giant Skipper that I did not see two days ago and then this beach scene on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, in Mason’s Neck State Park.

Butterflies flee your approach. These Zebra Swallowtail butterflies were so intent on their purposeful coupling that they disregarded my close approach with a macro lens, for more than a half hour shoot. I posted some time ago that this challenged my much earlier education in life, on the beach at Arverne, New York, and all those summers at Grandma’s summer bungalow. The unspoken common dignity then was to steer a wide berth around lovers entwined on the beach or under the boardwalk.

Funny then here, where I entertained this repeated unease at being intrusive; that I was not accommodating lovers on the ocean sand. They’re butterflies, but that’s what bothered me, Honest.

And yes, Virginia, there were Paw Paws growing there.


Why do we marvel at Praying Mantis’ Egg Masses?

Coming Soon, Real Soon . . . .

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Mantid egg case photographed by Jeff Zablow
Who can resist? June 2014, and there in Doak field, in the field, we discover . . . a Praying Mantis (Mantis Religiosa) egg mass. Butterflies are why we’re out there, but, who can resist stopping for a moment to examine this wonder of wonders?

What is inside? Eggs. What is the outside material? A substance produced by the female, that hardens, and . . . and serves many roles, one of them is it repels birds. It discourages birds from eating the eggs within. Impressive.

When it is 0 degrees F in that field in January 2015, those eggs remain viable. Suspended on this twig, the entire egg mass never comes in contact with the snow that covers the field, again and again throughout the winter.

Spring arrives, and the eggs hatch. The tiny mantids chew their way through the outer covering of the egg mass, and grow…

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Coupled Coppers at Golan Israel

Coupled Copper Butterflies I photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

The carnage just miles away in Syria prevented me from going to the peak of Mt. Hermon. Wanting to find and photograph the rare butterflies of the mountain, I settled on the meadows surrounding Neve Ativ. This tiny town is on the slope of Mt. Hermon. Neve Ativ looks like what I think a little Swiss village would look like.

Blues and coppers were flying, low as they do, in those flower covered meadows. An occasional fritillary butterfly showed, but they never landed for more than 2.1 seconds. Mid-way through that morning (photographing butterflies in Israel, even as we are here in April ’17, is near humanly impossible in the afternoon heat as it is a very arid country).

When I spotted this mated pair of Lycaena thersamon omphale, if you were there with me, you’d surely tell me that I had a face lit up, happy-look as a puppy with . . .

I chose to share this now, for it reminded me of how readily available beauty, peace and G-d’s work is for those tens of millions of you who work day in and day out. Me, I started working after school at age 13. When I retired I had worked for decades and decades. I am gifted in that I do still smell the roses, and hike to find eye fulls like this = sheer, unadulterated Beauty. Earnest, innocent and 0% politicized.


OK! Common Checkered-Skipper

Checkered-skipper photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Jeff so wanted this fresh Checkered Skipper to be a Desert Checkered -Skipper. It was said that it just might be. Commons are found throughout most of the United States, and yes, they are seen so often that they rank as ‘common.’

I took this photograph at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, Texas near the border wall. Four (4) Checkered-Skippers have been seen there. Review of this image concludes that this is a Common Checkered-Skipper. It’s seen in nearly all of the U.S. continental states, except in the New England region.

I’m sure this is of zero concern to this tiny creative masterpiece, though it could not be faulted for feeling overlooked by nearly all who love butterflies. Who among us trumpet the arrival of a ‘Common?’