Dusky-blue Groundstreak Butterfly (NBC)

Dusky-blue Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Telepathic pleading failed to get this Dusky-blue Grounstreak to turn to a more photographically shootable angle. In this photo we’re at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, Texas. It’s the last week in December, 2017. New butterflies appear every day, and I’m not getting jaded. Nope, I’m thinking that several more days there, or in the near future: sing, just sing to me.

Yep, the head and anterior end of this precious butterfly are not in view. The intense reds, black and white you see are rich and eye balm. A fine band of that rich red shows, encircling the blue field. Is there a tease of blue peeking out, that blue from the upper wing surface?

A butterfly only found in southern Texas. Well, I just happened to be in Mission, and I happily met the Dusky-blue Groundstreak.


Tropical Greenstreak in the Lower Rio Grande Valley

Tropical Greenstreak butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at 'The Wall,' Mission, TX

Again there was excitement in the air, at the ‘Wall’ that forms the entrance to Retama Village in Mission, Texas. An uncommon butterfly, a hairstreak, was nectaring.

Many of you saw the crowd that surrounded this Tropical Greenstreak, in an earlier recent post. Some whispered that even though it was not 100% fresh, it was exciting to finally see one.

This Gossamerwing was very tiny. Once again I went in low and close with a Macro lens and risked who knows what? This Tropical Greenstreak did not flee while I was close to it. It stayed put, and I didn’t have to face the “Lords of Flatbush’s” wrath.

It can be dangerous shooting photographs in a crowd.

Two miles from Mexico, in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Whoda thunk it?


Identity? It’s a Mallow Scrub Hairstreak Butterfly

Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Being introduced to a new Hairstreak butterfly is a treat. My first ever? That Striped Hairstreak in the Powdermill Reserve (Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s bird research station in the tony Laurel Highlands in Southwestern Pennsylvania).

My trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas, years in the coming, paid off, Big. This fine, tiny Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak butterfly was found in the National Butterfly Center, amongst the rich plantings and shrubs there. Rarely seen as East as Louisiana and as west as California and no further north than Nevada, it’s like the one you fell in love with. At first it seems some like other tiny hairstreaks, and then you begin to appreciate the subtle, but appreciated differences. As it slowly works the flowerhead for nectar, those large black spots and their surrounding orange juice-colored rims sing to you, as do the trim black crescents with their sharp white borders. Tails intact, this one was, well, fine.

Just keeping bringing me new Hairstreaks, won’t Y-u?


Gold Rush Butterfly

Gold-bordered hairstreak butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at 'The Wall,' Mission, Texas

I was the ‘new kid’ at the ‘Wall’ that today. It seems that we were at the National Butterfly Center, seeing a paucity of butterflies, when a blanket alert was received, that a very, very, very special butterfly was spotted nearby, at the ‘Wall.’ To the Budget Rental car we rushed, and drove the mile or so to the ‘Wall.’

Background is called for here. There is such an abundance of amazing butterflies in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, such that hundreds, maybe thousands of folks like you or I has moved here over these decades, and made the LRGValley their home. Several developments have been built, especially for such butterfly fans. One of these developments, Re________ (I somehow did not memorize that comfortable name) shrewdly landscaped with butterfly friendly natives, shrubs and trees. The development is walled, all around. The entrance to the development was very wisely planted with excellent choices for nectar craving butterflies. This entrance is locally known by hundreds as ‘The Wall.’

We rushed to the Wall, parked, and joined several people encircling a butterfly that one gentlemen, Mike, well known here, said he had not seen here since 1968!

As we watched this Gold-Bordered Hairstreak, more and more cars arrived, and the circle grew.

The backstory? I shoot Macro- and all the rest were armed with long lenses. They stood their customary 10 feet away from the tiny miracle of a find. Me? 18 inches would have been ideal, but I didn’t want to make that approach, for if it I caused this uber rare butterfly to bolt, there’s no knowing what that crowd would have done to me.

I made my approach, very low to not block anyone’s view. I carefully retreated after. Cars kept arriving, with new and excited Lepidopterists. Minutes later, the Gold-bordered Hairstreak was still there, moving about the bloom, leisurely. I decided to go in with my low approach one more time. As I did, I asked the Ab-ve to please keep the sweetie in place, because at this point in time, the Kid from Brooklyn can no longer take on 10 at once! G-d listened, and I a second time slowly stepped back.

The postscript? I was told that my actions disappointed those there, and those who were on their way to see this miracle at ‘The Wall.’

Me? I really made an effort to come in low and slow, to not approach as I normally would, and to bring home an image of a butterfly seen in the USA once or twice every 2 decades, or less. I had you in mind, honest.

(This episode did pique the Joe Pesci in me, more than a tad.)