Hanging Your Jewels

Hanging Fruit Basket with Viceroy butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Many of us puzzle over, how can we attract more butterflies to our own garden? We are determined to achieve this goal, and it is so encouraging nowadays, that most of us head straight to . . . the nearest native plants nursery. This is exactly what you should do. Purchase and plant native plants, from your own part of the United States. Head over to a nursery like Night Song Native Plant Nursery in Canton, Georgia or Sylvania Natives, right here in the city of Pittsburgh. Chat with the owners, seek their advice, ask about this choice or that, how to plant, how to prepare your soil. Owners of native nurseries love what they do, and they get A+ for sharing

After one year, your plants will be setting and developing. My first Common Milkweeds, shipped from Monarch Watch in Kansas were just 3-4′ tall year one. I was puzzled. Friends said, expected, wait for year 2. Year two? 7′-8′ milkweeds, busting with flowerheads.

By year 3 your neighbors will be coming along, and admiring, complimenting and gaping at the heavy traffic at your garden beds. You’ll be on your porch, or virtual porch, sipping your favorite, and living your own . . . dream.

At that point, follow Virginia’s suggestion. Do what you see here. Hang a basket of cut, and gently rotting fruit. Best might be if it is about 10′ from your treeline or tree (butterflies like that, to go to to rest, hide or escape). Change the fruit every 2-3 days. Work, but not a whole lot.

I shot this look because of the shmeksy! Viceroy butterfly, at the very right of the basket. A stunning example of a southern Viceroy. I wanted to also  show the Hackberry emperor butterflies that were all over the fruit. I know this basket well, having spent some time precariously leaning in (Macro-lens). Frequent visitors include Tawny emperors, Eastern commas, Red-spotted purples, Question Marks and more.

Hang it. Feed them. Admire them. Smile, for you are fostering such hanging jewels.

Jeff

Guess Where We Met?

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto Canada

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto Canada

Oh Super! the caption affixed to this image gives it away immediately. I was going to offer Borneo, Cuba, Kenya and Mongolia . . . but you now know we met in Toronto.

Favorite ice cream? Breyer’s Mint Chip. Favorite meat? Grilled Lamb chops. Favorite trail? Nichol Road trail in Raccoon Creek State Park. Favorite state? Pennsylv/eorgia.

Favorite butterfly? This Mourning cloak butterfly. They fly in March, April, May, June . . . then you can’t find them until . .  September, October and maybe, maybe a bit into November. When you see one like this one, Busting with rich color, it’s like that time when you were 16 or 17 and you entered the . . .  and there she/he was and you almost couldn’t . . .  And it’s about the same, you’re thinking don’t, don’t leave stay there and let me get my act together, ’cause . . . .

It was one like this one that busted me up  that morning on Nichol Road trail, so soon after she passed . . .

From Maine down to northern Florida, and across North America.

Citing favorites is a fool’s errand, but you do expect me to not hold back here, so . . . it’s this one, the Mourning Cloak.

Jeff

Winter Antidotes I

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto

Bitter cold, bone-chilling wind, always the threat of snow flurries, or even more disarming, snow. This New York, cum Pittsburgh boy has known northeast winters throughout his life.

15 years of seeking butterflies, seriously, has added another negative to my winter list. No butterflies (wild).

Let’s share this as the first of a number of winter antidotes. After all, these Mourning Cloak butterflies (Nymphalis Antiopa) are generally the very first to be seen, and that’s often during the last week in February, sometimes with much snow on the ground.

So friends, for those go-getters who are willing, it may be just a modest 54 days plus or minus, until our first northeastern butterflies take wing.

How? Don’t most require a minimum of 60 F to fly? Yes, most do, but this butterfly flies when it is much colder than that. Then how can the manage without nectar about? Mourning cloaks enjoy sugary sap dripping from maples and other trees, and they food on scat.

54? OK.

Jeff

 

Celebrating 34 Days….

Mourning Cloak Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Yesterday we posted here, seeking to encourage all that though it was -4F outside our windows, hang in there folks, because February 26th is coming, and with it snow drops and multi-hued crocuses. We enjoyed a fairly strong response to that message. Tens of millions of northeastern Americans are anxious to see this super-frigid weather vamoose.

This morning, on our drive to Chatham University, the outside temperature hovered between zero F and 2F. Out we trot further evidence that our doggedness will soon pay off. March 4th is a reasonable target date for finding Mourning Cloak butterflies on trails. They are often the very first butterfly to fly each year. I haven’t, but others have seen them flying with snow still covering its territory. They are heroic fliers, because most other butterflies will not take to the air unless the thermometer registers at least 60F. Our Nymphalis antiopa here goes through a shivering-like burst of activity, and that produces the raised body temperature needed to fly.

Last September we planted 8 pussy willow bushes, to attract Mourning cloak females. Willows are their preferred host plants. Wouldn’t it be great if they laid their eggs on those 8 willows? Whether or not pussy willows will attract them will remain to be seen, but I’d enjoy that alot!

So, March 4th, 2014 is just 34 days away. What a terrific harbinger of Spring that would be. Hike along your local trail, snowy spots left here and there…and OMG! isn’t that a…Mourning cloak butterfly, resplendent in not too worn mahogany, yellows and to top it off, sky blue spots!

Jeff