I Am Still Puzzled: Tale Of A Monarch

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

These 25 years of seeking butterflies has taught me alot. My work has not been focused on the academics of butterflies. I have sought to share eye pleasing images of butterflies, to evoke recognition of their beauty and a certain mystique, and to provoke, so much so that you are more aware of them, and spend more time looking for them, whether in Eatonton or on the peak of Mt. Hermon (Israel).

I may well have approached and seen 10,000,000 by now. Much about these butterflies is predictable. I find that in the field my ‘senses’ are finely attuned to their behavior, and that’s a great aid in my pursuit of them.

I now know much of them, but of course that’s a bit too smug, for there’s lots I don’t know.

The Monarch male here, stunned me some years ago. Over those 25 years, I never seen a butterfly do what he did. Never.

What did he do? I saw him at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, USA. He was perched on these dried flowers. Motionless. We were in Doak field, an open, 100 acre meadow in the Park.

I made my patented robotic approach, in a crouch. My Macro- lens needed to be within some 18 inches of him. He did not flee, staying still, in place.

When I was there, close to him, with lens facing him, he did it. He turned his head to his right, now facing the Canon 100mm/2.8 lens. He looked at me for some 4 seconds or so, as I repeatedly shot exposures of him. After those 4 seconds, he fled, at some speed.

I have never seen a butterfly turn its head, ever. Never.

What say you of this?

Jeff

Why Jeff Loves Butterflies

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

Do you want to know why?

• Jeff grew up amidst brick, mortar and asphalt. Since back then, Jeff ached to enjoy this much beauty.

• Jeff studied Biology in college and remains fascinated by natural phenomena. Butterflies provide relief from that anxiety.

• Jeff realized that almost no one in this world did anything like this. He’s more than happy to share these images and experiences.

• Jeff’s first wife and Jeff visited many Christie’s and Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewelry, pre-sale exhibitions. Frieda A”H tried on some of the world’s most exquisite broaches, rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Jeff’s macro- work stunned him. G-d’s best work far surpassed any creations produced by the Cartier’s artisans.

Jeff loves butterflies and Jeff loves photographing butterflies.

-Jeff

 

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