Dusky-blue Groundstreak Butterfly

Dusky-blue Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Telepathic pleading failed to get this Dusky-blue Groundstreak to turn to a more photographically shootable angle. In this photo we’re at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, Texas near the border wall. It’s the last week in December, 2017. New butterflies appear every day, and I’m not getting jaded. Nope, I’m thinking that several more days there, or in the near future: sing, just sing to me.

Yep, the head and anterior end of this precious butterfly are not in view. The intense reds, black and white you see are rich and eye balm. A fine band of that rich red shows, encircling the blue field. Is there a tease of blue peeking out, that blue from the upper wing surface?

A butterfly only found in southern Texas. Well, I just happened to be in Mission, and I happily met the Dusky-blue Groundstreak.

Jeff

Julia! a Julia Heliconian Butterfly

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

You think it’s easy? It’s fun, exciting, and exhilarating, but I can’t say it’s easy to photograph Heliconian butterflies.

I first met a Zebra Heliconian in 2016 in Kathleen, Georgia. I actually enjoyed at least a dozen of them that day. It was an easy to remember double-header, for I met my Zebras and then I stepped and stayed too long on a concealed fire ant hill!

In December 2017, during that wondrous last week, I ogled my first (how many get a chance to see a second?) Erato Heliconian butterfly in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas near the border wall. I got some fair to better images of Erato.

That same December ’17 week, John pointed to a spot in a mass of thick growth, some 14 or so feet away. It was Julia! a Julia Heliconian butterfly. He sure was “bright satiny orange” and had the Texas Julia look (no black on the upper wing surface). He remained on that leaf for at least 10 minutes. I got no closer, but I saw and if you indulge me, copped my first image of this Heliconian, Julia.

Lots of times you get what you can get.

Jeff

The National Butterfly Center’s Monarch Engagement

Mating Monarchs on Milkweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX
We were working the perennial beds at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas near the border wall. There I happened on this pair of Monarch butterflies, fully coupled. They were on an Asclepias flowering plant.

They were standouts. The largest Monarchs I have ever seen. Big, very big. I’d grown accustomed to seeing Monarchs of one uniform size. These 2 were behemoths, for Monarchs.

Here the male is closest to us. He was a hunk!

The publicity and press for the NBC holds water. This place offers surprise and surprise!

Jeff

R is for Red Rim Butterfly

Red-rim butterfly at rest photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Our 2nd post of the Red Rim Butterfly. Sure it’s a bit far away, after it was on that bait log in the National Butterfly Center, in Mission, Texas near the border wall. When it flew from the bait log, it flew into that small tree. The excitement we felt was spontaneous. This butterfly is cited in Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Glassberg, 2017) as “R” for Rare!

So, I moved robotically to the edge of the trail, and leaned over, just inches from the trench that dropped a few feet, and shot photograph after photograph.

Biblis hyperia is an eye-full, just beautiful. No wear, not birdstruck. That red submarginal band on the hind wings! Oh, if only I had such a cape or something like it on the streets of Brooklyn. It would signal: Stay where you are, I’m toxic!

Jeff

Mating Mexican Fritillary Butterflies

Mated Mexican fritillary butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

“Almost always a brighter orange-brown than Variegated Fritillary” writes Jeffrey Glassberg about Mexican Frits in his A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Princeton University Press, 2017). This was one of a pair of mated Mexican Fritillaries. The other one remains hidden under those cool wings. We were in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, near the border wall and Mexico

When I saw them, just some inches above the ground, my friend shared that they were Mexican Fritillaries! That got my attention, for they so look like Variegated fritillaries. Glassberg’s field guide highlighted the difference between the species. Mexican Frits lack much detail in the center of their dorsal hindwings, and they are so much “brighter” than Variegated.

I spent several unforgettable days in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, each day making the acquaintance of many Lifers for me. There were times too, when others in the NBC shared that folks just a little earlier had seen Dingywings and other butterflies that I’ve not ever seen before. No regret there, for I was a Happy Boy! in the LRGValley. I came to see and I saw!

Jeff