Imbibing Sweet Nectar In The Briar Patch

Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

The Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) achieved enormous growth there in the Briar Patch. Virginia’s tiny seeds produced 8 foot tall Tithonia. She’d tell you that yes, they were not native to Georgia, but, they were strong, robust sunflowers, easily tolerate the Piedmont’s long bone-dry summers, self-seeded and nourished legions of butterflies, year after year.

I’ve planted Mexican Sunflower here in my own Eatonton garden, and their vigorous growth and absence of pests enables them to provide nurture for butterflies from June to November. For the price of a packet of seeds, you get Tithonia that neatly fills whole corners of your sunny garden spots and summons squadrons of swallowtails, brush foot butterflies, hairstreaks and many skipper species.

I suppose that they must also make fine cut flowers for your home vases, and if grown in your front garden beds, they’ll have your neighbors asking, “What is that gorgeous big flowering plant you’re growing there?”

This Eastern Black Swallowtail is fully involved, methodically working this Tithonia flowerhead. His golden yellow flashes, blue patches and shot of red/red, against black wings and black body handsomely fitted with white spots, works nicely here with the developing Tithonia bud and sweet Tithonia flower, all set in a clump of Tithonia, that blocking the sunlight that brightens the rest of the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat.

The richness of plants and butterfly here is real and as with all we share, the color of it all, real-time.

Jeff

‘R’ is For Red Rim Butterfly

Red-rim butterfly at rest photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Our 2nd post of the Red Rim Butterfly. Sure it’s a bit far away, after it was on that bait log in the National Butterfly Center, in Mission, Texas. When it flew from the bait log, it flew into that small tree. The excitement we felt was spontaneous. This butterfly is cited in Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Glassberg, 2017) as “R” for Rare!

So, I moved robotically to the edge of the trail, and leaned over, just inches from the trench that dropped a few feet, and shot photograph after photograph.

Biblis hyperia is an eye-full, just beautiful. No wear, not birdstruck. That red submarginal band on the hind wings! Oh, if only I had such a cape or something like it on the streets of Brooklyn. It would signal: Stay where you are, I’m toxic!

Jeff

“U” For The Malachite

Malachite butterfly (4) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

So I’m in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and it’s Christmas week in Texas. We’re at the National Butterfly Center and Mexico is less than 2 miles away. Me? It’s my first time there, and I am as Happy! as a duck.

We’re seeing lots and lots of butterflies. The morning temperatures range from the mid-70’s up to the high-80’s. The last week in December and we’re enjoying temps in the low to high -80’s. Wow!

This Malachite Butterfly (that’s it’s recognized name, ‘Malachite’) was spotted, and the handful of us nearby moved briskly to have a look. It was resting on this leaf on a trail that wound its way across a depression in the land, a kind of heavily vegetative crevice.

I shot away, and returned minutes later to score looks at its ventral wing surface.

Jeffrey Glassberg’s Swift Guide to Butterflies (Princeton University Press, 2nd Edition, 2017) has the Malachite as “U” for Uncommon in south Texas. Big smile here. I visited the Lower rio Grande Valley for the first time in my rich life, and meet a fine, fresh “U” Malachite. Thank Y-u.

Jeff

The White Peacock in Mission

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

Seven White Peacocks came to greet me in Mission, Texas. Common to the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Florida, they sure catch the attention of a guy like me who has never seen one before.

Their flight is kind of slow, unrushed. They do frustrate, though, for as approachable as they usually are, they are heavily white, and like Cabbage white butterflies, defy the camera lens, mostly serving up mediocre images, even when you are convinced that you’ve landed some fine, fine looks. The image here is good proof. I scored good right wings, front and hind, but those left wings- they are filled with depth of field and white-challenge issues.

It was kind of funny. I’d see a White Peacock, and be at it immediately. Those in my vicinity, either at the National Butterfly Center or at the ‘Wall,’ wouldn’t even give it a nanosecond of a look. I guess it’s the ETB (Eastern Tailed-Blue) of the LRGValley.

Why did he or she name it the White Peacock?

Jeff

A Nifty HolyLand Butterfly

Lasiommata Megera butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron

I’m Thankful that I have been fortunate, fortunate enough to visit Israel nearly every year, since 2008. The HolyLand is where continents come together: Europe: Africa:Asia:The Middle East.

That unique location dishes up butterflies common to many of those continents. HolyLand butterflies are beautiful, swift, and many of wingedbeauty’s Followers really enjoy seeing them.

Lasiomatta Megara seen here on Mt. Meron, a strategic peak in the northern Galilee, jolted me when I spotted it, doing what butterflies do early in the morning. Spring nights are cool on a mountain in the northern Galilee. When morning sun rises, butterflies find perches in that full morning sun, and remain still, while the sun’s rays warm them. Once warm, they can fly at full speed, and avoid the numerous predators that are about.

The challenge was to make my approach in low profile, robotically, and also to not allow my shadow to cross Lasiomatta. This worked, and I got this ‘insurance shot,’ just before our subject did its disappearing act, and at considerable speed.

Jeff