Thanksgiving Day Approaches and It’s On My Mind

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly and Edwards Hairstreak on Butterflyweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

Less than a handful of days away, Thanksgiving is in the USA. It’s a day for us Americans to think of all that we are Blessed with, and for us here in the States to gather family (COVID-19 precautions considered) and revel in all that we have, in the good health that most enjoy, and to sit there and smile, as we watch the youngsters, year after year, preparing to take their turn in life.

Our table will be not quite that, but Thankful? I am very, very Thankful. I am happy, so very happy. We enjoy this home we’ve moved to in North Macon, those .68 acres, steadily filling with Georgia native plants and do you believe it? Today, November 23rd we enjoyed Zebra Longwing and Cloudless Sulphur butterflies. Back in Pittsburgh, that first week of September was almost always the Bye Bye week for seeing butterflies.

On my mind, adding to my euphoria, the hope of seeing total, abject beauty, as you see here in Lynx Prairie Reserve in Adams County, Ohio. The Butterflyweed (a Milkweed species) lush and richly colored. The Zebra Swallowtail butterfly? Mama Mia! The Edwards Hairstreak butterfly, tiny, yet elegant. The background in this image? Oh how I long to return again to this botany wonderland! 2021!

Jeff, sharing of Thanksgiving thoughts.

Jeff

We’re Trying To Tie This With The Right Tune

Little Wood Satyr Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

There we were at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in Florida’s Panhandle. It was a search for southeastern butterflies, and we found them: Georgia satyrs, Palamedes swallowtails, Tiger swallowtails and more, much more.

It sure surprised me when we spotted this one, a Little Wood Satyr butterfly (Megisto cymela). I’ve lived in Georgia for less than 3 years, and this one? I always associate Little Wood Satyrs as northern butterflies. They’re found in all of the northeastern states of the United States, and further west all the way to the Dakotas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Careful exam of its range map shows that Little Wood Satyrs are found in northern Florida, and that’s where we were.

Watching this sweetie fly onto this leaf, to take in the early morning sun, brought a smile. A small butterfly, it brings to mind that childhood fav, Tinker Belle, that Peter Pan companion.

It brought a smile, and a thought. I thought that this little butterfly deserves a tune, to celebrate its discovery that morning, at Big Bend.

The tune? I so hope y’all come up with just the right one . . . .

Jeff

Erato Heliconian Butterfly (National Butterfly Center)

Erato Heliconian Butterfly on Grass photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

This one sure has difficulty trying to hide in the near dark National Butterfly Center grass. Those bold, bright red stripes blare out at you. Makes you wonder why this rare butterfly, that occasionally visits there, wonder why it has those red stripes.

When it did finally fly, it flew down the trail, some nearly 150 feet, always in sight and it followed a straight-line path, some 4 feet above the ground. I watched, transfixed, for I saw something that intrigued me. During that straight-line flight, those red stripes were always visible, they actually were always easily seen.

My hypothesis? This butterfly must be toxic to predators that would prey on it. Those red stripes may signal habitat predators that this butterfly is toxic (poisonous), and should not be captured.

Do you concur with this opinion?

Jeff

Extraordinary Eastern Tiger

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

She was nectaring on native Teasel flowerhead. When I found her, my rocket-fast examination of her wings gave me a sugar jolt! She was extraordinary. There’s always that 1/35th of a second moment of apprehension. Would she leave before I could position my Canon Elan 73 film camera with its Canon Macro- 100/2.8 lens?

Long time ago, very fine photographers, at Pittsburgh’s Filmmakers, opined that it’s preferable to position your main subject somewhere other than at the middle of the image. No time to do that here, for such a once in 10-years female Tiger might, probably might, go, go to another flowerhead or totally go.

I’m a ‘men,’ and some of us remember beauty long after we’ve been Blessed to meet it. I remember this one. The rest? We’ll leave that alone.

Raccoon Creek State Park, Nichol Road Trail, Hookstown, New York, some 45 minutes drive from Pittsburgh, give or take.

Jeff

My Vote? Monarch On Joe Pye

Monarch Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

Tired of the USA election cycle, I prefer much to cast my vote for this All American pair. A male Monarch butterfly nectaring on Joe Pye flowers. An American butterfly on an American wildflower. Both valued in your meadows, fens and trails.

See? This has been a fine, relaxing change for me. For you?

Jeff