HolyLand Spots!

Maniola Telmessia (female) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

Mt. Meron is excellent for finding Upper Galilee butterflies, especially satyrs. I’m always on the lookout for images that highlight their tantalizing spots. A great long-term goal, for they don’t enjoy close approach, and nearly each and every time you find a fresh one, with those spots and eyes aglare, it’s gone before the first shutter click.

Persistence often rewards, and this time, I was Ga Ga when I found this Lasiomatta maera orinetalis with the morning HolyLand sun spotlighted on its upper left wing eyespot! That’s a rarity in the field, and I got it, I did. Enough of the lower right wing surfaces can be seen to make the declarative satyr ID.

Surely such fascinated Them back then, as they made their pilgrimages, this just days just days before Christmas . . . Amazing to ponder, this.

Jeff

Learning, 24/7

Great Spangle Fritillary Butterfly on Coneflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

I’m now a seasoned guy, with rich life experience. The deep beauty of that is that I am always learning, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This image so reminds me of that.

I’ve been digging holes in my gardens for decades, planting back then cultivars, and planting now native Georgia plants. I never invested much time with where did my new plants originate. I used to get my Pittsburgh natives from Sylvan Nursery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I didn’t ask them of the Coneflowers they cultivate and sold. I did find it puzzling, where do Coneflowers grow?

In 2016, I met Angela, Barbara Ann and Dave in Adams County, Ohio, almost a stone’s throw from the Kentucky. border. At Lynx Prairie Reserve, there they were . . . Coneflowers. I was short of stunned to see them, and to resolve one question. Coneflower is native to the USA, and resplendent in Ohio.

Our Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly is enjoying the rich nectar of the Coneflower head. Days later, Goldfinch birds will fly in and strip all the seeds from the Coneflower.

Yes, Ma’am, I continue learning, 24/7.

Jeff

Biblical Butterflying

Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Ein Gedi Israel

Blue Arab. I still puzzle over the common name given to this HolyLand butterfly. I was determined to see and shoot them. There was this aura of different, of exotic and almost inaccessible for me. I’m not especially fond of travel, and surely don’t like traveling alone. How’d I get there? Took the train south from Binyamina, past thousands and thousands of acres of lush agriculture, to Beir Sheva University station. Took a bus from the train station, past hundreds and hundreds of Bedouin homes, then along the west coast of the Dead Sea, to my destination, the SPNI field house at Ein Gedi. 93F and bone dry.

This is the same Ein Gedi that features prominently in the history of Christians and Jews. It remains tiny, and undeveloped. It is something to behold, for there is where you get the scale and sense of what it was like, at least some sense of that time.

There was an ancient synagogue there, and it was not much like today’s centrally air conditioned types. I was near constantly tickled with the stark reality of the place. Really, I was. So many walked there, fled to there, studied there, dreamed there. The connection to us is moving, very.

This male Blue Arab butterfly denied my getting too close, though he did allow this camera click, and it nicely reveals much.

Jeff

The Honor Roll

Dorsal View of Bog Copper Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

I will never forget the thoughtfulness and generosity of those who have invited me to special, sometimes hidden habitat to see and photograph butterflies. Those of you who visit this blog, winged beauty.com are occasionally reminded that you are seeing what only 1 in 126,598 ever get to see. That so pleases me, and helps to drive me forward.

Barbara Ann guided me to this Bog Copper butterfly and a fresh Ringlet butterfly. Rose and Jerry to a bunch of new ones, including the Creole Pearly-Eye, Southern Pearly-Eye and Silvery Checkerspot. Nancy and John to a whole slew of butterflies, the Little Metalmark, Eastern Pygmy Blue, Saltmarsh Skipper, Great Southern White in Georgia and Texas’ Red Rim, Erato Heliconian, Mexican Bluewing, Malachite and at least 18 more lifers. Mike led me to Zebra Heliconians and my first brawl with fire ants. Virginia’s Briar Patch Habitat the fabled Southern version of Viceroy butterflies and Giant Giant Swallowtails. Angela kept the ball rolling with Northern Metalmark butterflies and Edward’s Hairstreaks. Phil straight to that long awaited Gemmed Satyr and Juniper Hairstreak.

These unsung heroes gave us much to cheer. Thank G-d for them, for the big ‘names’ in butterfly conservation and butterfly search remain woefully silent, even these 23 years, plus or minus.

I am thinking in this edgy way, for with 2019 almost upon us, I am frequently daydreaming (again) of butterflies I’d so like to find and greet. I’m working on Mitchell’s Satyrs in Alabama. I’m now booked to return (Yay!!!) to the Lower Rio Grande Valley to explore the National Butterfly Center again (Double Yay!!!), awaiting Angela’s next shout-out for Ohio or the Bruce Peninsula or . . . Friends here in Georgia continue to ask, ‘Have you been to . . . ?’ Washington State happily offers a new friend, who’s familiar with all those northwestern USA butterflies, none of whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet.

Ask me how much I want to see the Very Very rare continental USA ones? Hermes Copper? Mariposa Copper? King’s Hairstreak? Any of the Alpines? Zilpa Longtail? The Giant Skippers?

Always dreaming . . .

Jeff

Small Town Mystery?

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Pickerelweed blooms photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

This satisfying image brought me to thinking. Sure, I know that this Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge has been home to tens of thousands of butterflies, for as long as we can reckon. Yes, that puts these Pickerelweed blooms close, very close to butterflies like this Gulf Fritillary.

I have no doubt that these little blooms emit aromatic nano packets of sensory activating hydrocarbons. The Gulfs follow the ‘trail’ of those aroma bursts, some 100 feet or 400 feet, and reach this sizable flowerstalk, optimistic and hungry. All that reckons with my high school and college Chemistry understandings.

Tougher to grasp is this, my new garden. In February 2018 I started creating beds, where before there was mowed ground. From that mild later winter, to last month, those beds were planted with native Georgian plants, from Pussytoes to Hercules Club to Clethra to a slew of trees: BlackCherry, Hickory, Sassafras, Plums, Atlantic White Cedar, Hoptree and more. Sure, there were some setbacks, the most challenging the acknowledgment that there were most wet areas that retained below ground water for weeks. Ok, that forced some switharoos, but y’all had been there, had to do that.

The result? We were mobbed by butterflies. Gulf Fritillaries on the Passionflower. Cloudywings on the small Zinnias (non-native) and Starflower (?). Giant Swallowtails, Black Swallowtails, Buckeyes, Ladies, Zebra and Zebra Heliconians, many, many species of Skippers . . . Just mobbed. I loved it, I did. A lifelong dream that, butterflies from February to November.

Comes the mystery. There is not, to my knowledge, a garden like this in town (the County Courthouse is 2 blocks away, we are squarely in town) for at least 3/4 mile in any direction. I know why this Gulf here found this luxurious wetland Pickerelweed. I do not know how the hundreds (thousands) of butterflies found my garden, from such great distances?? Do you?

I’ve planted 2 Atlantic White Cedars. Will a very special Juniper Hairstreak ever know that their hostplant is here? I’m in the midst of a frustrating search for Sweet Leaf AKA Horse Sugar trees. Will the rare King’s Hairstreak, a big long shot, find those? How’d the Great Purple Hairstreak, my first ever seen, find my garden last summer???

Small town mystery?

Jeff