The Presidential Giant

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly on Tithonia photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

I think I once saw the back of the head of an American President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. I remember that everyone around me was looking to catch a glimpse of President Eisenhower. That’s thousands of people all trying to see him, and hoping to come away with that memory: To remember that they saw a President of the United States.

There is a butterfly that commands that same universal attention, this one, the Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes). What have I seen? My head turns, and all heads turn when this magnificent butterfly gracefully flies in, and all eyes are fixed while those 2 or 3 minutes, that it flies around, looking for nectar, go by.

From the field guides, It appears that Giants may be seen in about 39 states in these United States. That is Presidential, no?

Where this one? The Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat I in Eatonton, Georgia.


Handsome Eastern!

Black Swallowtail photographed by Jeff Zablow in Traci Meadow, Fayette Township, PA

We were in Traci’s Meadow (Fayatte Township in southwestern Pennsylvania). At the top of the gentle rising land nearby, a new development of houses stood. Traces Meadow? You see it here, lush, vibrant and full of wildflowers. Traci shared that they developer of the nearby homes wanted to extend his building to this vulnerable meadow, but was for the moment blocked by environmental issues.

This male Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) few in, and he sports fresh, spectacular coloration. His yellow pm spot band is unusually extensive and bolder than most, and his sup apical yellow spots, at the front on that left forewing, are positioned somewhat differently. He is his own butterfly, adorned boldly to catch the eye of females.

I’ll need your help in ID’ing the wildflower he is on. It must be a fine nectar pump of a flowerhead, for he remains on it long enough for me to score an acceptable image.

At the time I told Traci that I soooo wished that some conservation group would jump at the opportunity to seize this meadow as a forever conserved refuge, for it was rich in butterflies and so much more.


License To Kill?

Fly on Jewelweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Frick Park, Pittsburgh, PA

When we see them, don’t we stop and gaze? Robber flies look so confident, so fierce. I often puzzle over the competing thoughts upon seeing a robber fly. On the one hand we view them as formidable killers, and yet at the same time we don’t speed away from them, instead we approach them. Some of us have shared sidewalks with killers, and we knew to keep a good distance from them, as we heeded the warnings of our parents to stay away from New York City cops, then.

I’ve never seen a Robber Fly capture a butterfly, although I suppose they do. Have you ever seen a Robber fly with butterfly prey? The sight of a Robber Fly with a Monarch butterfly or a Zebra Heliconian butterfly would sadden us all, no?

The insects of our gardens, parks and wild habitat live as they do, with no obvious concern about the possible appearance of a Robber Fly. I think of that often, again reminiscing back to the streets of my childhood home, and the Connected guys who shared them with us.

This Robber Fly was dining on an insect, while comfortably perched on a large leaf in Frick Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Worried, it? No, no, no.


White Peacock Butterfly at the perennial gardens in the National Butterfly Center

White Peacock Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Never saw one in western Pennsylvania during my 27 years of living there. Glassberg has them as R-U (Rare to Uncommon) in the northeastern USA. I’ve seen White Peacocks in Savannah Natonal Wildlife Refuge along the Georgia-South Carolina coastline and in Mississippi near the Delta. They’re the kind of butterfly species that just don’t excite most folks when they find one. I wonder why finding a White Peacock does not shoot up the blood pressure?

This fine White Peacock was seen in south Texas, at the perrenial gardens of the National Butterfly Center. I’ve waited this long to share this image with y’all, for fear that once again it would just not generate heavy traffic here. I’ll soon see if I was correct.

How many White Peacock fans are there?


Those Mysterious Anoles (Georgia-Style)

Anole lizard photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

It was November 2017, No not a cold, blistery north-wind blowing November. I was in Georgia, and began renting 303. That back garden was Huge compared to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania gardens. I met some of our new neighbors those first days, including the violent, gangsterish Fire ants. This Jeff, whom many of you have learned about in past wingedbeauty posts (streets of Brooklyn, ‘Connected’ friends, Knives, Dean in a NYCity high school, artillery officer, loved attending the Golden Gloves Finals in Madison Square Garden, NYNY) made not one but 2 trips to St. Mary Emergency Room, after Fire Ant bites nearly became ‘septic.’ The mosquitoes of Eatonton included a species of tiny little mosquitoes (species? Don’t know) that bite you without you knowing it, and whose bites blow up immediately and then are ‘itchy’ for the next 24 hours.

The flip side of the not so pleasant Georgia ‘neighbors?’ The butterflies abound! So many new: Giant Swallowtails, Palamedes Swallowtails, Cloudless Sulphurs, Great Purple Hairstreak.  The moths, even there 2 blocks from the center of town brought Ooh! and Aahs! The beetles were all new, the bees too. The birds were nearly all new, and migrating birds often sent me to my bird field guides (The Sibley Guide to Birds).

Butterflies, Birds, Moths? All easy to ‘know,’ their habits and behaviors understandable. There is a Georgia backyard resident that remains cloaked in mystery, the Anole lizard. A near total unknown, the Anoles.

They pretty much remind me of the ‘Spooks’ who have their main offices in Washington, DC, those of the C.I.A. (Central Intelligence Agency), NSA (National Security Agency) and the dozens of other top secret government agencies who are supposed to be gathering information here and abroad.

I study the eyes of this Anole here, and their aloofness, almost coldness remind me of those detectives back in New York City, on the job, and carrying faces that tell? Tell zero about what they’re thinking.

Anoles? Work the shadows of the garden, and maybe snatch a butterfly caterpillar or two, and then . . . disappear . . . .