Butterfly Realities

Argiope with sulphur prey photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

I’m glad that I don’t see this too often. Y’all know that I am fond of butterflies. I’ve never ever caught one in a net, never pinned a beautiful, fresh butterfly to a small cardboard and for sure never ever caught one to sell to collectors in Tucson, Manila or Beijing.

Human poachers collect for their own collection or for money. That upsets me, for especially when they finally locate a small rare population, say with 50 butterflies at the most, who do they seek? They search for the strongest, most perfect 2 males and 2 females. Catch them, and desolate the vibrance of the remaining tiny population, by removing the strong, hearty individuals from the endangered gene pool.

Butterfly realities may be difficult to understand. Hard reality does require serious contemplation. G-d made all of these creatures, for good reason. Those that prey on animals, the spiders, wasps, beetles in the trees at night, robber flies, lizards, frogs, mice, dragonflies, snakes, birds, bats, they all depend on butterflies for their 1% to 15% of their prey. This really, really bothered me decades ago. 40 or more years of thinking has led me to conclude that the academics are correct, this is a very well organized system, and it has worked this who knows how many years. And it will work, well beyond our days.

This Black and Yellow Argiope has caught a yellow/sulphur butterfly in her web. Her sticky protein strands have done their job well, and she now will go to feast on her gossamer-winged prey.

Those who never consider such predator-prey relationships, are much aggrieved. Won’t this 1 event trigger the disappearance of this species of butterfly??

No it will not. There are offsets here. The mother butterfly who produced this imperiled offspring did not lay 1 egg. She more than likely set out 100 eggs. Those 100 caterpillars hatched will see high losses to another long list of predators. The chrysalises produced will suffer losses to the elements and to desperate predators. How many adults butterflies will eclose from those odd cases? Oh, let’s say 21. Those 21 adult yellow/sulphur butterflies must fly in the territory of dragonflies, blue jays, mockingbirds, even the sweet and beloved bluebirds. At night, when they roost in trees and bushes, snakes, beetles, lizards and more appear, and . . . !

Butterfly realities make me appreciate my home, my locked door, Petra and . . . . the law enforcement men and women who give us peace of mind and a watchful eye.

Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia.

Jeff

Which NFL Great Loved Coppers?

Copper Butterfly ( Dorsal View ) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

Y. A. Tittle? Jim Brown? Fran Tarkenton? Antonio Brown? Matt Ryan? I’m sitting here, slightly missing the National Football League this 2018 season . . . and I’m thinking. This image of a tiny copper butterfly, Lycaena thersamon omphale got me to thinking, how do 6′ 3″ tall men, and 5′ 11″ tall women shoot such diminutive butterflies.

This guy was seen in a small moshav (village) on the slope of Israel’s Mt. Hermon. I wanted those 2016 images to include coppers nectaring with their wings open. I spent those 3 mornings trying to capture that and some other scenarios.

Remember, I shoot Fuji slide film, and use a Canon 100mm/2.8 lens (this was my first one, not equipped with Image Stabilization). Working with a Macro- lens necessitates getting some 18″ or so from the copper, that a feat in and of itself. So you approach, you all bent over, or like me kneeling on my left knee, on my Tommy kneepad. He flies to a bloom 2 feet away, you follow, going down again, again he flies, and again . . . This for 3 hours in the early morning! Stir in the added feature: the sun drenching you in hot, sunburn waves, and ask yourself: How does a guy like Peyton Manning, touted at 6′ 5″ . . . photograph copper butterflies in the Israeli Golan?

Share what you know please.

Jeff

Backwoods Beauty

Appalachian Brown Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Most of our favorite butterflies visit us, in our gardens, parks, roadside botany and fields. Those are the butterflies we know and enjoy. They accept our invite to come and nectar, on our coneflower, zinnias, fruit trees, buddleia and Mexican sunflower.

Show your neighbor/friend a photo you took of a less well known butterfly, and don’t they usually say, “I didn’t know we had these in _____________________ ( pick your state ).”

This is one of those “We have these in Georgia?” butterflies. The Appalachian Brown butterfly. They don’t know or care that you have a spectacular garden full of natives and nectar pumping plants.

This is none of the above, rather it is a Backwood beauty, found in swamps and wet meadows. This immediate one was seen in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in middle Georgia.

I’m long on record that I love subtle browns, Love those ‘eyes’ and being kind of a march to your own drummer guy, appreciate such stand alone self-confidence.

Jeff

Gulfs . . . No. 1 Or # 2 In The Southeast

Gulf fritillary butterfly sipping nectar on thistle, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Wildlife Management Area, Kathleen, GA

These 4 years shooting butterflies in Georgia have been a joy. So many butterflies, they flying in rich, verdant habitat, from Cloudland Canyon to Jekyll Island. Best of all there are so many of them.

Used to be that I’d struggle to find butterflies in southwestern Pennsylvania. That made finding a fresh butterfly a very exciting experience. In Georgia, the fraction of fresh, beautiful butterflies is so much higher.

Which southern butterflies are most numerous Jeff? Gulf Fritillary Butterflies and Cloudless Sulphur butterflies, so says my hundreds of hours in the field.

Do you get glazed over when you have seen dozens of Gulf fritillaries in a single morning? Nope. Huh? I am forever searching for fresh Gulf Frits, and that accomplished, I want to capture an image of the sunlight reflecting from the dazzling ventral white spots. Not easy to get. Not easy.

Here our Gulf Frit’s lower wing spots are 100% brightened by the morning sun, and the thistle flowers dazzle too. Oakey Woods Wildlife Management Area, guided by Mike.

Jeff

It’s Been Years W/O Milbert’s

Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

When you pause, to devise your list of things you miss you rediscover how much you enjoyed such, and maybe you allow yourself to imagine . . . how Happy! you’d be to be reunited with those sustainable memories. Sitting here now, my mind is awash with them, the things I deeply miss. Share them? No, they are personal to me, and surely don’t resemble any you have on your own list.

I will mention a butterfly that I would Love to see again. It’s been about a decade since I last saw a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell butterfly. This is a butterfly that flies in to blooms at high speed, then nectars lazily for quite a long time. If you’re positioned nicely, it will tolerate careful approach, and will often allow you to continue following it from bloom to bloom.

This one flew to Teasel, shown here. It was a good stand of Teasel and Common Milkweed at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. The modestly colored lower wing surface does not prepare you for the spectacular color display of the upper wing surface. OMG!! I had the Honor of seeing what few have seen. This butterfly opened its wings fully, and I was standing just a few feet away. I saw the fabled dance of ‘fire’ as the sun’s powerful summer rays lit the wings ‘ablaze.’ At that angle to the wings, it looked like the wings were on fire!

I saw Milbert’s again in the gardens flanking the walkway to the entrance to the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. It was nectaring in the planted beds. I was shooting Macro- and the Phipps folks do not tolerate anyone stepping into those flower beds. For that, my Milbert’s images there do not have the intimacy of this image here.

Truth be told, it’s been years since, and I’ve off and on thought that it’s time to get reacquainted. Where? Canada.

Jeff