Julia! a Julia Heliconian butterfly

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

You think it’s easy? It’s fun, exciting, and exhilarating, but I can’t say it’s easy to photograph Heliconian butterflies.

I first met a Zebra Heliconian in 2016 in Kathleen, Georgia. I actually enjoyed at least a dozen of them that day. It was an easy to remember double-header, for I met my Zebras and then I stepped and stayed too long on a concealed fire ant hill!

In December 2017, during that wondrous last week, I ogled my first (how many get a chance to see a second?) Erato Heliconian butterfly in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. I got some fair to better images of Erato.

That same December ’17 week, John pointed to a spot in a mass of thick growth, some 14 or so feet away. It was Julia! a Julia Heliconian butterfly. He sure was “bright satiny orange” and had the Texas Julia look (no black on the upper wing surface). He remained on that leaf for at least 10 minutes. I got no closer, but I saw and if you indulge me, copped my first image of this Heliconian, Julia.

Lots of times you get what you can get.

Jeff

 

Erato Heliconian at the National Butterfly Center in Mission Texas

Erato heliconian butterfly (Dorsal view) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

A beautiful day at the National Butterfly Center (NBC) in Mission, Texas. The extensive perennials beds of the NBC’s gardens and trails were just loaded with butterflies! Most of them, new to me. Battle stations!! The few other people there, that last week in December, 2017 were skilled butterfly folks.

Someone told us, excitedly, that an Erato Heliconian butterfly had been spotted at the head of a nearby trail, in a sunken trench like crevice that runs about 300 feet. Judging from the electricity that that news! dished up, I sped there too, wondering (I have severe hearing loss in one ear) who would name a butterfly an “Erotic” anything. LOL.

We got there, and two wonderful men showed us where it was. OMG! It was stunning.The black was jet black. The yellow was bright yellow. The red? My red. Lipstick red is the kind of red that always caught my attention way back when.

This was a very fresh, screamingly exquisite butterfly. It rested there, for many minutes. It tolerated my robotic approach and remained in pose as I shot away. The lighting was not ideal, subdued. It remained in place as several others photographed it, most with telephoto lenses. It remained there more, and I left, not expecting to see that magnificent butterfly ever again.

I returned some 15 or so minutes later. All of its admirers have gone. I made yet another slow, robotic approach. Good. It remained in place. After some moments, it flew. I watched it, my Erato as it flew straight, away along the trail that forms the bottom of the trench. I watched my Erato fly some 150′ in a straight trajectory, no rising and descending (like Monarchs and Zebra heliconians). No twisting and turning( like Satyrs). I was transfixed! Those red bands remained in full sight all of the time. Never did they not reveal.

My conclusion? Erato heliconians must be toxic. Oh, it’s gotta be. Those red bands surely advise all potent predators, “See my red. bands? I am one toxic Erato”

I left that low-lying trail, heavily in shade, warmly appreciative of this eye opener, product of the D-signer.

Jeff

Zebra in the Bush

Zebra Heliconian butterfly on Tithonia I, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

Their flight is akin to ballet. Slow, with gentle floating movement, taking the Zebra Heliconioan up and down. Slow it may be, but the continuous change in altitude really challenges when you want coop an image.

We’ll soon see my images of an uncommon Erato Heliconian Butterly, seen in the the National Butterfly Center’s gardens in Mission, Texas. I was fortunate enough to watch that Erato fly away along a deep crevice in the Butterfly Center. It’s flight path was not like the Zebra’s. The Erato flew an almost projectile like line. That I will long remember, for those big, deep, bright red patches on each wing remained in clear view, throughout that more than 200′ path that it flew.

Back to the Zebra, met in the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat I, In Eatonton, Georgia. I sort of chased it from Tithonia bloom to Tithonia bloom. This time it stopped on one of those Mexican sunflower flowerheads, and I just decided, go for it, and share the reality of Zebras: You shoot what you can shoot, after you tire of trying to follow their at the Ballet progress. That’s what we have here. The reality of trying for a Zebra H. in the bush(es).

Jeff

The Culmination Butterfly

Zebra Heliconian butterfly on Tithonia II, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

Valentine’s Day is waning. A disgruntled student did the unthinkable in Florida and politics wash over our USA media by the hour. I’ve just opened the wingedbeauty.com Media Library. More than 800 images rest there. Many have been used, some of them several times. This one, seen last July 2017, called to me, like the puppy in the litter than catches your eye, and waddles over to capture your heart.

It hit me. This is a classic Culmination butterfly, surrounded by culmination growth, Mexican sunflower plants in the Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I. I took this photo just months before Virginia and crew began unearthing most of the hundred of perennials, bushes and trees there and replanted them a mile+ away, in Habitat II. We are looking at a Zebra heliconian butterfly, enjoying a brunch of Tithonia nectar.

Why is this a Culmination butterfly? This is the product of the boy from the streets of Brooklyn, not so big, but good with his hands, who grew up in brick, concrete and asphalt, with crazies on the streets. The kid who never even saw the golden spoon. The one who went to college by New York subway and had to work after classes to eat. I carried long steel on those hundreds of subway rides through bad places. I hitched with Reed from Binghamton, NY to Miami, Florida in 1962, and nearly got killed about 20 times in the 1962 Deep South. Joined the NYARNG, was a cannoneer on 155mm towed, completed OCS, married beyond my dreams and had 4 children. I left teaching after they refused to promote me and did better than good in NYNY real estate. I was betrayed by “partners,” but did not do to them what my now well connected childhood friends did to those who . . .  I sent kids to Wash U and to the Ivies and then relocated to Pittsburgh. I returned to teaching HS Biology, to rough, tough street kids. I watched Frieda A”H fight and lose to Cancer/Leukemia. Celebrated the birth of grandchildren, even one named for Frieda. Did what Frieda always told me to: work hard and do what you enjoy. I Continue to pray daily . . .

Yep, what you see here is the Culmination butterfly. Take the tale above, multiply it by some healthy multiple, and I am sure then, then you can begin to appreciate how much I enjoy photographing butterflies in Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Canada, Israel, Vancouver Island (?), Sri Lanka (?) and ???? Thank Y-u.

Jeff