WhoopTeDo! For This Hairstreak

Hickory Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Akeley Swamp, NY

We were at Akeley Swamp Refuge, in very western New York State. We were approximately 9 hours from my hometown, Brooklyn, New York. The way things are in western New York, we might as well have been 15 hours away from frenetic New York City.

It was a memorable morning hike. The trail along this onetime train track flower bed had hundreds of lush Common Milkweed plants, all in peak of bloom. Problem was, all morning we saw few butterflies. It was a brain teaser. How could you have several million lush Asclepias Syriaca blooms, a sunny, windless morning, blue skies . . . and almost no butterflies . . . in the last half of June??

That downer soon disappeared, when I saw this tiny triangular figure on a milkweed flowerhead. What? Huh? Hello?? Not a Gray, nor a Striped, not an Edwards, or a Coral, nor a White M, definitely not an Acadian, or a Red-Banded, not even a Banded (I think) Hairstreak Butterfly.

My calm, relaxed physiology skyrocketed, it did. Was this a “R-U” (Rare to Uncommon (Glassberg, A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America)) Hickory Hairstreak? If it is, I liken it to my elevator ride with Diana Ross in the fab Fuller Building at Madison and East 57th Street.

Seeing my what, 2nd Hickory Hairstreak in these 26 years rocks!

If any of you come and argue it’s a Banded, you’d better have total, irreversible proof, and not that, we need to see this or that argument, for that 94 seconds that it stuck around, will not be forgotten for at least the next 30 years.

That sort of a WhoopTeDo! experience? I cherish and prize them. Sometimes they take me back to when Frieda A”H would ask, when I came home from butterfly field work, ‘What did you see today?’ I loved when she would wait and listen for my full report. A Hickory??? OMG!

Jeff

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