I rubbed my eyes and it was real!

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

I went into my backyard today, and my right eye caught a glimpse of a large butterfly. I purposefully working the plants in the ‘shed bed.’ OMG! She was . . . a Monarch. April 1, 2019 and this big Monarch female was, and here again I was incredulous, she was examining my just budding out Asclepias.

I made a very slow, very robotic approach and she fled. I  saw her. She was not birdstruck, but she had lost many scales, and her orange was very dull.

I went to examine my other garden beds, and maybe 5 minutes later I went back to the shed bed. Just then she flew back to the shed bed, and began depositing eggs on my milkweed (Asclepias).

Minutes later she left.

Happily rocked, I smiled, for I had just met a female Monarch butterfly, who had flown all the way from Mexico to my yard in Eatonton, Georgia. A heroic Monarch, who rewarded me with her eggs, in my garden of all places. The eggs of a Joan of Arc, or Margaret Thatcher, or Golda Meier, or Christie Brinkley.

If she’d waited a bit more, I was tempted to practice my waining Spanish on her. But nope, she left, on April 1, believe it or not.

Jeff

Danaus Plexippus

Right side view of Monarch butterfly on Tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

They will be here in my Georgia yard, soon, very soon. Back where I used to live, Pittsburgh, you’d see perhaps one Monarch or two in your home garden from May to July. That was exasperating Monarchmama, because those 7 foot tall and 8 foot tall Common milkweed plants were strong, bearing huge flowerheads, all for one or two Monarchs! Twenty or more milkweeds, despondent, waiting for Monarchs, but none come.

Here in Georgia, Virginia’s Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch (as in Br’er Rabbit) Habitat usually has 3 to 4 Monarchs present on any day from April to October. Last November, there was that day when 5 Monarchs arrived in my own garden, together, and they nectared on the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia) for several hours, before they left, headed to Mexico.

They are show headliners, like Johnny Cash, Elvis, the Beatles, Diana Ross, Bing Crosby (my music stopped with the ’60’s). When they fly in, those poor Cloudless Sulphurs, Painted Ladies and Black Swallowtails are abandoned, for Look! a Monarch just flew in!! This male is happily on Tithonia, in that very same Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia.

So, I ask you, Why did G-d make the Monarch butterfly?

Jeff

Bust Out Butterflies

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Watching plane loads of people arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport, reminds me that groups visit the HolyLand from every corner of the world. There have been times that I just sit there, waiting for my own flight, and playing a guessing game, Where Are They Arriving From? Chile? Nigeria? Sweden? Taiwan? Azerbizian? Portugal? Iceland? Japan? Myanmar?

You? I’ve urged my wingedbeauty friends to visit the HolyLand, sharing maybe 100 posts from there, or more. It’s safe there, very, and starkly beautiful. The dry desert area, buildings built of stone block and the emotional rush of seeing what you imagined back in Sunday school, make for lifelong memories, meaningful memories. If you prefer, luxury hotels abound, as do many other hotels.

What I do ask you to think about is driving your rental car out of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Eilat, and spending 2 or 3 days in search of what we Love, butterflies. My most beloved destinations are in the north of Israel, the upper Galilee and the Golan Heights. Stay like I do in an SPNI (Society For The Protection of Nature in Israel) guesthouses (reservations must be made in advance) and explore the many nature parks and roadside flora for butterflies. The roads are excellent, and the signs are 98% Hebrew/English.

Delight yourself in June/July when you spot this Danaus butterfly, the Plain Tiger butterfly. Just as our Monarchs and Queens do here in the USA, these HolyLand butterflies are milkweed butterflies, laying their egg on milkweed.

I’ll reward anyone who takes this suggestion, with an extra special Giant lollypop, made in America.

Jeff

Monarchs & Neuron Transmission

Right side view of Monarch butterfly on Tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

There were three of them on my Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) that day in December 2018. I spotted them when I approached bed #2 in my now one year old Georgia Piedmont natives garden. A cranial barrage of thoughts exploded in my head when I saw them. A near overload of positive, inspirational, sensual brain transmissions, all instantaneous and all lit by the sight of those three Monarchs.

I may have logged more hours in the field than almost all of you. True that when it comes to seeking butterflies. Countless times I’m intent on copping an image of a swallowtail, or a fritillary, or a brushfoot, or a skipper, when from the corner of my eye I spot a Monarch gently flying in. What do you and I do next? We know what we’ve done, time and time again. We politely abandon the butterfly we were working to shoot, and we head over to the Monarch. Monarchs sing a siren’s song, they do.

Why do Monarchs trigger so much nerve cell activity? How’s about I begin to list the why’s for me, and you take the ‘baton’ from there and share your ‘why’s.’

Monarchs provoke because:

  1. So much that is good and positive is associated with Monarchs
  2. Monarchs are widely considered to be the most beautiful of Northamerican butterflies
  3. We admire Monarchs for their epic migrations from Toronto to the mountains of central Mexico, and for their round-trip journey the following Spring
  4. Monarchs, of all butterflies, evoke poetic thoughts
  5. We fear for Monarchs, their numbers now depleted, and our concern has been validated by academics and naturalists
  6. Monarchs remain fresh and rarely birdstruck, and whatsoever the reason for that, we admire their puck and self-confidence
  7. The Monarch metamorphosis remains incredible, and from that 2nd grade classroom, we continue to try to intellualize the unfathomable biology of it
  8. They stand out as butterflies that are large, yet often tolerate Jeff’s close approach
  9. Monarchs love milkweed plants, and bright as we might be, how in the world do their caterpillars consume milkweed, the same milkweed the would gravely sicken us, or the birds that give them a free pass?
  10. You cannot ever get a perfect Monarch image. Period. There will always be a better one in your future. Who among us, for example, has shot the best look of a Monarch ‘eye’ ever?

I will be beyond Happy to see what you may add to this list, my List. Caron? Leslie? Marcie? Virginia? Melanie? Laura? Barbara Ann? Angela? Sylbie? Beth? Phyllis? Deepthi? Yaron? Phil? Mike? Rose? Cathy? Nancy? Peggy? Hollie? Lisa? Bill? Curt? Debi? Melania? Nancy? Mary? Traci? Terry? Joanne? Jim?

Jeff

Change Your Place, Change . . .

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

700 miles. That’s how far I moved last year. Family and friends know how much I enjoy this pursuit of butterflies, and they’ve heard of why I do what I do.

It’s 55 degrees F in my former home now, and its’s a whopping 80 degrees F in middle Georgia, the Piedmont region. Back there, in Pittsburgh, the Monarch butterflies were singletons, and you might see 3-5 any given year. They would be seen until mid-September each of those 27 years, and October might shake out a stray Cabbage White butterfly, maybe.

Today! Today in my 1-year old natives garden, I went out to give Petra some exercise, and there in Bed #2 of my garden, together on a group of giant Tithonia (Mexican sunflower plants) . . . were Five (5) Monarchs, males and females at the Tithonias, the nectar bar for thousands of butterflies this year. Five! I’ve never seen such a grouping together, ever.

I’ve driven down here, beginning back in 2015, and butterflies fly well into November. I L-U-V it!

Change your place, many Moms say, and you Change . . .

Jeff