There Go Those Dreams Of The Carefree Life Of A Butterfly

Praying Mantis photographed by Jeff Zablow in Traci Meadow, Fayette Township, PA

August each year brings on stage Argiope spider that build huge webs across meadow trails and Praying Mantises that wait, frozen in place, awaiting the arrival of a flying or crawling or jumping insect. Almost all of us think that butterflies live life of nectar, beautiful blooms and complete, utter freedom. No perils for them we think, they merely awake each summer morning, and spend the next hours floating from flower to flower, sipping sugar/protein-rich nectar. For those whose lives are  enough stressed, the life of a butterfly, caterpillar-chrysalis-adult? Ought to be so much better than work/family/shopping/bills/politics/not-so-nice-people.

This image of a Praying Mantis at Traci’s Kelso Swamp’s edge should end all of those ‘I wish I was a butterfly’ daydreams. Fly within reach of this Mantis, and a butterfly is doomed. I’ve watched praying mantises at work, and they are faster than the eye can follow and they don’t miss. Butterflies that fly in July to September face this threat, and if they swerve elegantly away from the Mantis attack, they risk flying, full speed into a nearby Argiope spider or Orb Weaver spider’s web.

These are natural checks and balances that control butterfly and moth population numbers, but finding a Monarch or a Tiger Swallowtail or an American Lady in the grasp of a Mantis is a real downer, for sure.

Traci’s Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, southwestern Pennsylvania, USA.

Jeff

What Happened to Yesterday’s Monarch

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

Yesterday, we watched a Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) enter and explore our new 800 garden.We’d not seen a Monarch here for weeks, and we both had big Smiles! Our Monarch visitor headed to a purple Coneflower.

Just as it was reaching the Coneflowers, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird sped over, and escorted our sweet Monarch out of the garden, at a rapid speed. Monarch? Left in a hurry!

I’d never seen that before, and it added to our treasure trove of garden anecdotes. Macon, Georgia, 45 minutes south of Atlanta, y’all.

Jeff

The Middle East’s Danaus Butterfly

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Whenever a Monarch butterfly crosses my path, or flies into our garden, I go. Go to see it, almost go to greet it! As hundreds of thousands of you have, I have planted milkweed plants in my garden, knowing that even if some of you have limited space, you’ve set in milkweed in planting pots. When those Monarchs come, no matter what month it is, it is uplifting. Uplifting is healthy and much needed.

On my trip to Mission, Texas, a handful of miles from the Mexican border, those hundreds of Monarch-like butterflies, Queens and Soldiers, lit me up! I was as excited to see my 200th Queen as I was when we arrived in Mission. Monarchs, Queens and Soldiers are all Danaus butterflies, whose hostplants are Milkweeds.

When I travel to Israel my Danaus-love continues with this butterfly, the Plain Tiger. Found in the Middle East, it is the most elusive of the Danaus, difficult to approach and skittish when the camera appears.

It all goes back to Brooklyn, New York, when Monarchs showed up in the ’empty lots’ not empty at all, but just months or a handful of years before they were developed and . . . disappeared.

Jeff

Unchained Melody At The NBC

Monarch Butterflies Coupled photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

He is closest to us. She is barely visible below. Monarchs coupled in the Perennial Gardens of the National Butterfly Gardens of the NABA in Mission, Texas. The largest Monarchs I have ever seen. A mere 2 miles or so from the Mexican border.

Me? Sitting here watching the rain, it 52 degrees Fahrenheit outside, in usually sunny Georgia.

What does this view make me sing in my mind, the lyrics to Unchained Melody, and those summer days on the beach at Arverne, Rockaway, Queens, New York: Oh My Love, My Darling, I Hunger For Your Touch. Time Goes By So Slowly And Time Can Mean So Much . . . Are You Still Mine? I Need Your Love, G-d Speed Your Love To Me.

Sure a trip to the National Butterfly Center is unforgettable . . .

Jeff

Monarchs That Bring Joy!

Monarch Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

We’re near the end of February here in middle Georgia, U.S.A.. Some days hit 60 degrees Fahrenheit, others struggle to reach 49 degrees. I’ve not seen a Monarch butterfly since very early November 2019.

Working through our wingedbeauty.com Media Library and I stopped here, at this enchanting image of a female Monarch, in our 303 Garden (our own yard). She has stopped to deposit eggs on our Milkweed (Asclepias  spp).

Just another image for me? No. No. No. What you’re seeing made me smile, instantly. Joy to my heart, seeing Monarchs, as I did  back in Brooklyn, New York, back then. She striving to insure that the next generation of Monarchs ecloses, whether it be then in East Flatbush section of Brooklyn or now, in beautiful Eatonton, Georgia.

Joy! is always good medicine. Monarchs bring Joy!

Jeff