WhoopTeDo! For This Hairstreak

Hickory Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Akeley Swamp, NY

We were at Akeley Swamp Refuge, in very western New York State. We were approximately 9 hours from my hometown, Brooklyn, New York. The way things are in western New York, we might as well have been 15 hours away from frenetic New York City.

It was a memorable morning hike. The trail along this onetime train track flower bed had hundreds of lush Common Milkweed plants, all in peak of bloom. Problem was, all morning we saw few butterflies. It was a brain teaser. How could you have several million lush Asclepias Syriaca blooms, a sunny, windless morning, blue skies . . . and almost no butterflies . . . in the last half of June??

That downer soon disappeared, when I saw this tiny triangular figure on a milkweed flowerhead. What? Huh? Hello?? Not a Gray, nor a Striped, not an Edwards, or a Coral, nor a White M, definitely not an Acadian, or a Red-Banded, not even a Banded (I think) Hairstreak Butterfly.

My calm, relaxed physiology skyrocketed, it did. Was this a “R-U” (Rare to Uncommon (Glassberg, A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America)) Hickory Hairstreak? If it is, I liken it to my elevator ride with Diana Ross in the fab Fuller Building at Madison and East 57th Street.

Seeing my what, 2nd Hickory Hairstreak in these 26 years rocks!

If any of you come and argue it’s a Banded, you’d better have total, irreversible proof, and not that, we need to see this or that argument, for that 94 seconds that it stuck around, will not be forgotten for at least the next 30 years.

That sort of a WhoopTeDo! experience? I cherish and prize them. Sometimes they take me back to when Frieda A”H would ask, when I came home from butterfly field work, ‘What did you see today?’ I loved when she would wait and listen for my full report. A Hickory??? OMG!

Jeff

Another 274 Days?

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly and Edwards Hairstreak on Butterflyweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

I’m still stuck. Still thinking Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Long Island, New York. Still programmed to think of the first week in September as the week to literally wave bye bye to butterflies, until approximately 8 months until that first Cabbage Whited is spotted once agin, in . . . late April?

Open your eyes Jeff, as you sit now in Eatonton, Georgia, home of there Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, that now world famous home to dozens of species of butterflies. To that add my own 303 Garden, with 25-50 butterflies aloft at any given time. They first appear here in early February and fly through the last week in November. Imagine that, this year Boy Blue’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day and something called Rosh Hodesh . . . for Jeff, a Trifecta!

So I relax, ratchet down, knowing that true we won’t be seeing the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly and the Edward’s Hairstreak Butterfly (Lynx Prairie in Adams County, Ohio) until at least very late June, but we in the South will be winging Welcome! to our butterflies . . . in early February! A minor Miracle for this young man from . . . the concrete, asphalt and brick of Brooklyn, New York!!

Jeff

Things Changed . . . Ohio!

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

New or familiar, you may have read of how I have near zero folks to guide/lead me to new butterflies. As one decade lead to another, this absence of willing guides did sort of displease me.

In 2017, I think it was, Barbara Ann made friends with Angela, just over the border in Ohio. Angela invited some to explore Ohio, and I requested to go too. Request approved, and soon I was with them in the very southernmost county of Ohio, Adams County. Wow!

Here’s one of my many new finds there, in Lynx Refuge Preserve. They must have nearly all eclosed (left chrysalis) the day before, or . . . that morning.

Edward’s Hairstreak, in one of Lynx’s several pristine meadows. I loved them from first sight, those red epaulets and that patch of blue/blue. Those white stripes. Edward’s Hairstreak were more than just a new Lifer butterfly for me. They were placid in the early morning, posing gracefully, and enabling lots of camera shots, lots.

I’d lived next door to Ohio for what, 23 years, with no one inviting me to see zip. Barbara Ann and Angela introduced me to Ohio, and what with Showy Orchids and dozens of new butterflies and wildflowers to me, Ohio is a treasure, much of which I have yet to open.

Jeff

Singing Auld Lang Syne

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Here’s one I’ve not seen for more than 20 years. A Striped Hairstreak Butterfly. We met in the butterfly garden at the Powdermill refuge in Rector, Pennsylvania. This field station of the Pittsburgh Museum of Natural History, established for the study and conservation of birds, was just 1 hour and 25 minutes from my home in Pittsburgh.

These sylvan 2,000+ acres were home to a host of threatened species, including that Eastern Timber Rattlesnake that I met up with there. It was under a tree, in the shade, that 90F+ morning. I see it there, and now when I look back these years later, Frieda A”H was right (again). How did I get those closeup images of the rattler, when I should have know the risk that a father of 4, and husband, works to get closer and closer and closer to . . . ?

This “R-U” rare to uncommon (Glassberg, A Swift Guide to Butterflies) hairstreak was doing what most hairstreaks do, resting on a leaf, being very territorial, when I spotted it. It didn’t take more than a nanosecond for me to realize that this was a new one for me, and I shot away. As Stripeds do, it met my slow, robotic movement with no alarm, and I shot away. What a stunning butterfly!

Its been decades since, and I’ve not met another . . . I think. Their range is said to be Maine to northern Florida, the Atlantic coast to west of the Dakotas, but rare, Oh so rare.

Jeff

Pyle, Berthet, Lawson, Childs . . . and Zablow?

Edwards Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

Over these decades, every so often, the Media announces the discovery (!^!!#**!) of a heretofore unknown animal. Like you I drop what I’m about to do online, and quickly open the news dispatch, to read of the new OMG! mammal, reptile, fish. I’ve given up on Sasquatch, that Loch Ness thing, the Dodo bird and especially sadly, the Ivory Billed Woodpecker. We’ve way too much populated Earth, and there’s not much territory that has not be trekked over. The African Veldt of my youth is now full of people, full of guides to show you whatever you want, and it seems has been compartmentalized into people place and game reserves.

The loss of the Ivory Billed bit! I took it personally. How could we/they not protect their huge, dense forest stands?

Butterflies? There are some who seek little explored, dense pristine habitat to find rare and they dream, undiscovered butterflies. Pyle’s Big Year, wonderfully described in his book Mariposa Road, Berhtet’s recent explorations, Ian Lawson’s wide travels as well as Child’s, often cause me to question my own reluctance to hit the road, by the hundreds and thousands of miles?

Just recently, I came to a resolution. I will resist the siren’s song of the road, and the airport terminals that I so dislike. One more airport men’s room and I will lose it. One more full body frisk, with me struggling to keep my served my country, OCS completion, ready to go riot control platoon leader in Brooklyn in the late ’60’s, with mouth SHUT.

I will make few long journeys, with the exception of searching the Negev, Galilee & Golan regions of the HolyLand (Israel). I will get my VAVAVAVOOM with the butterflies of our beautiful USA and Canada. No way I’m going to be kidnapped by Shining Path or whatever. That too, that the $$’s lecture.

This Edward’s Hairstreak was one of a fresh flight of 50 or more that marked my first Edward’s ever!!!  Lynx Prairie Reserve, Adams County, Ohio. That was bonkers! exciting, and was just a 6-hours drive from Pittsburgh. Newly discovered butterflies may well exist, but I’m not to travel deep into Cuba or enjoy the unexpected company of latter-day headhunters in Borneo.

Anyone who wants to chat about trips in 2020, I’m all ears. No Uzbekistan. No Honduras. No Mongolia. No Myanmar. Please.

Jeff