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

Cassius Blue Butterfly (NBC)

Cassius Blue butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Y’all know by now that we went to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in the closing week of 2017. We’ve shared many butterflies that were new to me, and new to so many of you. Here I was, just a handful of miles (or less) from Mexico, and you just never knew what would come flying in here, at the National Butterfly Center in Mission.

This was the Tiffany of Butterflies, with new deliveries every hour, with the display cases changing as you watched!

Comes this one, nectaring on Mistflower. I expected it would be a snap to ID, and after scouring Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (The Princeton University Press, 2017) I still cannot tell what it is?

It’s almost surely a blue? Or is it. Ventral wing surface are good, and the upper wing color sure look blue.

Might I dream that the premiere butterfly experts, Jeffrey Glassberg, Mike Rickard, Curt Lehman and/or Robert Michael Pyle might help here?

Update! Nancy Asquith and Mike Rickard reached out to us to confirm, Cassius Blue ( Leptotes Cassius Cassidula ). Thanks Nancy and Mike.

Jeff

Back in Business in 2018

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

Remember this one? I unashamedly shared that I drove nearly 2 hours down from the Golan, along the Syrian border, to finally captures images of two butterflies that continued to elude me. I relied solely on a field guide map. I did find and shoot Tarucus rosaceus. That was good. I accomplished that goal.

Where, though was Tarucus balkanicus? Like T. rosaceus, T. balkanicus’s range straddled dangerous territory. It is found along the border with Syria and the Israeli border with Jordan, and it is found along Israel’s western border, along the Mediterranean, south of Tel Aviv, and not far from Gaza.

I finally, after much frustration, saw this tiny, tiny fine looking T. balkanicus! I so carefully got down on my stomach (ticks?) and even more carefully crawled closer to its perch on these diminutive flowers.

Jeff, this image is not so hot. Why share? Just as I prepared to shoot away, rain came down!! Hard. This is what I got. It flew. Me? Drenched.

Drive hours, with no one to meet you and definitely show you where to see hard-to-find butterflies, and you run the risk of getting skunked, getting soaked, and wondering why do I do this?

Among my goals this Spring? Meet and shoot Hessel’s Hairstreaks and Elfins; that is to say, several species of Elfins. What do I have to assure me of success? Just field guide maps. Oh, and that determination that only you and I have, determined as we are to see the most beautiful and sometimes the least known of butterflies. And, to occasionally look around, and just Sigh! what with the beauty that surround us.

Dianas later? How does that go? “I’m so . . . . . . and you’re so. . . . . . , this Diana I’ve been told . . . . “ The rest, well I may remember it while out in the field.

Jeff