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

Ceraunus Blue Beaut

Ceraunus Blue Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

I broke the rules here. I did. I never ever share images of butterflies on my hand, or on my clothing. When I’m opening your post of Facebook, I don’t hit “Like” if your butterfly image is like that. I’m not in favor of contact with butterflies in the field, for a host of reasons.

This one tested that practice. I was working a trail that stretched from one pond to another, at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the Georgia coast. There was a sizable area that had once been disturbed, and Blue’s were flying there, with wildlfowers beckoning them, here and there. I sought to ID those tiny blues, were they Cassius Blues or Ceraunus Blues . . . when the comely butterfly flew onto the Cellphone!

Loved those ‘eyes’ on its hindwing. Its marking were sharp and fresh. Wings newly minted and not birdstruck. I wanted this Ceraunus, for my images of this species, several years ago at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area . . . left me awaiting my next chance to shoot Ceraunus.

This was a Beaut! But, but it had come to the Cell to imbibe the minerals I continued to leave, from my sweat, that hot Georgia coastline morning.

True, I am a (stickler), but, but . . . Yep I shot away, and here is the image I want you to see, of a fine Ceraunus Blue Butterfly, who’d make it’s mother and father proud.

Jeff

Cloudless Sulphur Blush?

Cloudless Sulphurs Coupled photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Dogs mate, and I quickly turn my head. Video of African elephants mating . . . I turn away. Horses go at ‘it,’ and I turn. Even Turdus migratorius, the American robin, mating, and I prefer to watch scenery instead.

Not with butterflies though. This pair of Cloudless Sulphur butterflies found one another, actually he, at the top of the image, found her. Despite or because of my great fondness for butterflies, when I’ve seen Monarchs, Regal Fritillaries, Zebra Swallowtails and Eastern Black Swallowtails couple up, I do not feel that necessity to divert my eyes.

We were at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge’s Wood Pond, and it was a relief to finally have at butterflies that were not in constant motion or did not flee upon my approach.

So, why turn away when a bull mounts a cow but stare when Eastern Tailed Blues reproduce?

Jeff

Is it Easy? No.

Tarucus Balkanizes butterfly  Near Syrian border, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Golan Heights, Israel

It’s the first week of September. That means that the search for butterflies now slows, and soon stops. 2018 has been a very interesting year. Travelled to New York State, Pennsylvania, the mountains, Piedmont and coast of Georgia.

How’d I do with scoring new images? Good, though the ones that I tried for and didn’t capture, sure do irk.

That day in Israel was such an experience. I booked a field house at the SPNI Golan, and that morning drive south, intent on seeing the tiny Tarucus butterflies. With no one to guide me, I chose a destination right near the Jordanian border. Breath-taking scenery greeted me, on that 1.5 hour drive, especially the eastern coast of the Sea of Galilee, familiar to most, back in those Sunday school classes.

Dark clouds and intermittent sun followed me, nearly the entire time. I reached the intersection I targeted, on my map book of Israel. I parked my rental, and explored  an abandoned park.. Jackpot! I found and photo’d Tarucus rosaceus. Tiny gems they, found in many places along Israel’s eastern, southern and western edges.

Nearly one hour after arriving in this spooky, deserted place, I spotted Tarucus balkanicus, shown here. I threw caution to the wind, and carefully got down on my stomach.He was handsome, tiny, but handsome. Fresh too! So . . . why the blurry image?? He did not flee when I got down to his level (2 inches above the trail). He stayed in place when I crawled closer. I prepared to take my first exposure . . . then . . . it came down in buckets,. This was my one and only lifetime picture of this HolyLand butterfly. He fled like a missile.

Me? By the time I got myself up from the ground, I was SOAKED.

Easy? No!

Jeff

Uncommon View Of An Uncommon Butterfly

Little Metalmark butterfly at rest, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

To find this one, you must travel to the coastal salt marshes and tidal marshes of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana or Texas. This Eastern Pygmy Blue butterfly was met in Shellman Bluff, Georgia. They are beyond tiny, and the blooms they nectar on stand about 3″ above the ground. To shoot them, you must bend all the way down to them, and hold your tongue when, just as you get down to their level, they slowly fly to another bloom, maybe 4 feet away.

Your back begins talking to you, pleading, ‘Why, why?’ Me, I (foolishly) gave up on trying to capture images with my left knee down to the ground, on my Tommy knee pad. Big mistake when I threw caution to the wind and began shooting them with my stomach to the ground!

This image stands out, for as Glassberg notes in his Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America, these smaller than tiny butterflies “rarely open their wings while landed.”

We were on Jekyll Island, and when I got to my hosts’ gracious home, there was a sizable tick clinging to the center of my chest!! After those tweezers carefully removed it, I sported a large red circle just where it was embedded, and days later, reluctantly went to an Urgent Care office, to be reassured that it was not a vector for serious diseases.

Uncommon view of an uncommon butterfly at some expense, yes Ma’am.

Jeff