At the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, in Florida’s Panhandle, who did we meet? Just as you’d hope, there was this Phaon Crescent butterfly. As soon as I saw those sweet cream colored bands on its fresh forewings, I knew this little beaut was a Phaon. The clincher was the abundance of its hostplant, Fogfruit, growing low on the trailside, close to the marshy, swampy Big Bend wetland.
What springs to mind, when this rock ‘n roller reminds of this happy sighting? The Big Bopper’s cannot be forgotten Hello Baby, You Know What I Like . . .
It’s fun to see such, and be obliged to determine, in a nanosecond, if you’ve met a Pearl Crescent, or a Phaon Crescent or a Texan Crescent or maybe, just maybe a Cuban Crescent butterfly. After all, it was the Florida Panhandle, and any or all might, just might be flying.
Here’s a sight that thrills me. Working a trail in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area (Florida’s Panhandle), and spotting a Georgia Satyr, with that lipstick red ring encircling those sweet, sweet eyes. Thinking of it sent me to Google the lyrics of Ray Charle’s Georgia on My Mind, and Yep, this butterfly is one of the handful that rocketed me to excitation.
Still in peaceful dreams I see, The road leads back to you. March 2021, let there be no COVID-19 hereabouts, and let me again work the trail edges of Big Bend WMA and northern Florida, to reacquaint with this sweet pearl of a Satyr, and my fav Palamedes Swallowtails and let me meet a handful of southern butterflies that have yet eluded me.
Am I a dreamer?
Can’t forget this moment, not for a long time. The Georgia Native Plant Society (GNPS) had posted on Facebook, of the virtues of Sumac bushes/small trees. It caught my eye, for my city kid roots (Brooklyn, New York) always tagged sumacs as B-A-D. Poison sumac was found in Brooklyn and the other five boroughs of New York City. It was to be avoided. The GNPS’s Facebook post told of the virtues of Georgia’s native sumacs. Attractive in the garden, hardy and supplies valuable food to birds and more.
This Viceroy flew in while we were working Woody Pond at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, on the Georgia coastline. Lauren had recommended Harris Neck, and there we went. The Viceroy flew to the sumac that grew on that 4-foot wide strip that separated the Woody Pond trail from the pond’s edge (think alligators!). This Viceroy was fresh and Gorgeous, and began nectaring immediately on the few Sumac flowers that had opened.
So, suddenly Sumacs were good, very good. They attracted beautiful butterflies! That was an epiphany, for me. GNPS touted Sumacs, and there I was excited about a Sumac in a fab Refuge, as it attracted a totally OMG! Viceroy.
Our 8 months ongoing Macon, Georgia back garden now has dozens of trees, bushes and perennials that we’ve added to it, 97.5% of them natives. With Spring ’20, what did we discover? Winged Sumac and Smooth Sumac plants appeared, and began to grow. We didn’t plant them. I chose the several that would be terrific placements, and look strong and robust, and I staked them (so Petra & Cuiffi) don’t trample them. Lots of you know how anxious I am to see these Sumacs surge forward in the Spring ahead of us.
Sumacs and Jeff, we’ve gone along way.
Barbara Ann (A”H or OBM”) showed me Watts Flats Wetland Reserve in far Western New York State. It sure must have been conserved because it includes several unique, rare and hard to find green plants.
This was one of them. Barbara Ann didn’t know its name, and that told me that it was special, very.
She passed this year, and Oh how she will be missed. She enabled me to visit many wondrous reserves in New York and in Ohio, where she introduced me to Angela and several other accomplished naturalists.
With 2021 just around the corner, my immediate plan is to scour Georgia and Florida for butterflies, and at the same time, seek extraordinary wildflowers and orchids. Who to lead the way, now that is the question?