Those Amazing White M’s

White M Hairstreak butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Buckeyes? 4,206. Monarchs? 728. Pearl Crescents? 2,009. Gray Hairstreaks? 265. Erato Heliconians? 1. Cloudless Sulphurs? 433. Northern Pearly-Eyes? 48. Meadow Hairstreaks? 15. I’ll skip down to the  butterfly at hand, the White M Hairstreak butterfly (Parrhasius m-album). In these 24 years of seriously searching for butterflies, I’ve seen 3.

All of the White M’s I’ve seen have been found in Doak field in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. That’s about 8 hours west of New York City.

I’ve been on the lookout for them the entire time, especially when I am working meadows bordered by oak forests. The last one I saw had to have been about 9 or 10 years ago. Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America has them “LR” in their northern range, and that makes some sense, for the range map in that field guide shows Doak field at the very northern limit of their flight. Now that I’m living in Georgia’s Piedmont, he cites them in the U.S. south as “U-C,” Uncommon to Common.

So know that I am going out this 2019, a lot, and when I see strong stands of oak, I time and time again, am going to have White M Hairstreaks way up at the top of my look-to-find mental List, along with Goatweed Leafwings, King’s Hairstreaks, Hessel’s Hairstreaks and Diana Fritillaries, along with side orders of Milbert’s Tortoiseshells and Compton Tortoiseshells.

Hiding Go Seek with Amazing M’s!

Jeff

My Striped Hairstreak Butterfly

ZablowButt_First60-30BlgPht

Forgive me, but I am very pleased with my capture here of a fresh Striped Hairstreak butterfly. Tiny, like all hairstreaks, it startled me when I first eyed it. I was looking for the usual larger butterflies, in the Powdermill Reserve of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, in Rector, Pennsylvania. Rector is in the sylvan Laurel Highlands of south-central Pennsylvania, and finding such a tiny, “Rare-Uncommon” butterfly there, should not have been a surprise to me.

When my Macro- lens came closer and closer to this beauty, it remained in place, and I marveled at how magnificent it was. A shmeksy! butterfly that is never found in abundance, and is alway seen as a solitary specimen, alone, naturally.

This is one of my early finds, and Yep, it stoked my passion to work to find and shoot common and uncommon butterflies, fresh, colorful and reminders of the Gift that we continue to receive.

Jeff

Hairstreak Euphoria

Red-Banded Hairstreak butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

It never goes away. I expect that I speak for all of us who love and search for butterflies. Whether you arrive at your refuge, meadow, fen, garden or roadside berm, that euphoria that electrifies you when you spot a tiny, tiny Hairstreak butterfly, never lessens.

We stop, verify that it is a Hairstreak, a fresh Hairstreak (the price of film now matters) and as quickly as those years in the field allow, which of the hairstreaks you have found. Me, I best know the hairstreaks of the eastern half of the United States . . . but. I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of these abundant hairstreaks, but others, that count drops to one or two. Or, zero.

This winged beauty is a Red-banded Hairstreak. Fresh, zero bird-struck with gorgeous, rich color including that handsome blue patch and generous red bands.

So many Red-bandeds bear wing damage or extensive wing scale loss. This one, seen at the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton Georgia is a crowd pleaser for sure. When I’ve shot away, those 20 or more exposures, am I able to slowly back away from this shmeksy! gift from G-d, and share my war-up “YES! May well be you heard it, be you in Brooklyn, Dallas, Mission, Seattle, Atlanta, Mishmarot, or Valdosta.

How I love what I do!

Jeff

Angela Said It Would!

Edwards Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, OH

Barbara Ann made a new friend, Angela. They scheduled a trip to the southern tip of Ohio, Adams County, on the Kentucky border. There was no way this was not going to be anything other than an excellent several days of orchids, wildflowers and . . . butterflies. Angela assured me that I’d be fine going with them, and Joe, David, Flower and one or two others, and she assured me that butterflies there were plentiful and special.

It was and more so. We started our week further north, near Dayton, Ohio, and there I finally met my very first Showy Lady Slipper Orchids. That should/shall always remain a clear, happy memory for me.

Our small group then drove down to Adams County, and more days of new, amazing, Wow! and success.

Lynx Prairie and Kamamama Prairie were extraordinary. Wildflowers of pastels and more boasted large numbers of butterflies, nearly all fresh, and some never before seen.

Lynx Prairie Reserve had a fresh flight of this butterfly, Edwards’ Hairstreak. They stop often to rest, as seen here. When they nectar, they tolerate close approach. Their colors were strong, distinct and eye-candy.

I shot away, dozens of Fuji Velvia exposures, all the time so wanting to cop an image of those rich colors. I feel like I did just that.

That voice in my brain is urging me to return in June 2019, for there was that phantom Fritillary butterfly that I almost photographed, ‘cept it fled, and I had no spotter to tell me where it . . .

Jeff

Gray Hairstreak Swoon

Gray Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Federica, Saint Simons Island, GA

This one’s surely near the top of the List. What List? The List of butterflies that still stop you in your tracks, slow you down, and somehow force you to retrace your steps and come gawk at them. Approaching impossible is passing up a handsome Gray Hairstreak Butterfly without doing that, stopping to get closer, have a good look.

Equally difficult to do is take a good look at this, and Not capture a few exposures of it, de$pite the high cost of film and that.

What’s also on my List? Monarchs, Mourning Cloaks, Palamedes Swallowtails, Pipevine Swallowtails, those legions of tiny Carolina Satrys, Viceroys, American Ladies and Silver-Spotted Skipper butterflies.

Glad I am that I stopped to oogle this one, at Ft. Federica on St. Simons Island, that destination suggested by Virginia.

Jeff