Orange Julius In The Desert?

Desert Orangetip Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ

This was a Wow! of a find. White Tank Mountains Regional Park, west of Phoenix, Arizona. I pulled over my rental car, and began exploring the dry, cactus rich land at the foothills of the mountains.

I was not sure what I might find in that foreign (to me) vast space. This Orangetip flew in and chose to rest here. Me? What? Aren’t you far, far, too far away from the northeast, to be a Falcate Orangetip?

I shot away, and was beyond Happy! to discover that I had met my First Desert Orangetip, and that he was as juicy orange as those the Orange Julius’ folks got at that corner of East 86th Street on New York’s tony Upper Eastside.

I look at this capture of mine now, with some satisfaction, that was so rich of color, smack dab in the middle of the bone dry desert.


Winter Antidotes III

Desert Orangetip Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ
Disregard the slightly cold weather outside your door. It may be 9F this very moment in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but, soon all that will change. Do you question me? What do I have to support that? Spring is on its way, have no doubt about it. The $800,000,000. industry that sends dozens of catalogs, catalogs offering myriad choices of perennials, seeds, bushes, vines, and trees began mailing their offerings at the stroke of midnight on New Years. They are not one to waste money. If you’re getting those catalogs, then Spring ’15 is on its way.

Examine this Winter Antidote. It was March, and central Arizona had above average rainfall January and February. The desert was abloom, seas of wildflowers, all exuberant because moisture was suddenly abundant. Me, I was there, visiting family and keen to get my camera to work. Temperature was in the mid-80’s F, comfortable for Arizona.

Whom did I meet, at White Tank Mountains Regional Park, none other than this Desert Orangetip butterfly (Anthocharis Cethura). Not all that surprising, because this beauty is known for making an appearance after winter rains. A common Arizona species? No. Considered uncommon and unpredictable. A desert butterfly of the southwestern corner of the U.S..

So linger here just one more moment. A desert butterfly, met in March, west of Phoenix. A precious gem of a flyer, enjoying near ideal conditions in a desert that for the moment defies the criteria of desert.

Nursery catalogs, longer days, desert butterflies flying anew. Spring will be here, in the East, soon. Jeff will take his macro- from his backpack, load his Fuji slide film (ASA’s 50/100), and G-d willing step onto Colorado, Georgia, Arizona, Illinois, Maine, Ontario and Israel. Hey, maybe even get to Dolly Sods and Buzzard Swamp. Seems I have some friends in fantastic places!

If you know that butterflies exist, then I tell you, Spring is a ‘comin!


Anthocharis Damone Butterfly (Protected)

Anthocharis damone butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Northernmost Golan, Israel

This morning, breakfast was enjoyed while re-reading Pyle’s Mariposa Road (a 3rd read is not out of the question). Among the incredible butterflies recalled in this stretch of his book, was the Desert Orangetip. Great! We’ve posted that pretty here in Breakfast finished, here I am posting, and what better image to share than this Protected orangetip, found only in northernmost Israel. It may also be found in Lebanon and Syria, but butterflying there amongst Hezbollah, al-Queda, the warring sides in the Syrian slaughter grounds, etc. would require a significant risk of not being heard from again.

This snappy gent was busily nectaring in a small nature reserve that March morning. The fine parking lot accommodates cars and buses for touring school excursions. As in most cases, the head of trails in such places (with no park rangers) are heavily worn and often too littered, but once you’ve hiked the trail for some minutes, all you encounter are the occasional serious esthete and wildlife. The orange of his wingtips was deep and easily reminded of several tasty fruits and gourds that share this zippy orange coloring. Female A. damones must swoon over this fellow.

Look how he allowed me to approach! Other such wingtips were seen, but this one was the freshest and I shot away.


Falcate Orangetip Butterflies

Falcate Orange Tip Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

Male and female Anthocharis midea share a perch on this member of the mustard family. It’s April 7th, an early appearance for these orangetips in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. A happy sight for this butterfly photographer. Why? Because their period of adult flight is short and you never know whether or not they will be seen  in their usual locations on any given morning.

These are near the northern edge of their range. They are rarely seen in most of New York state, and are not mentioned in Larry Weber’s Butterflies of New England (Kollath-Stensaas Publishing, 2002). Jaret Daniels’ Butterfies of the Carolinas (Adventure Publications, 2003) reports them as sometimes common. Cech and Tudor’s Butterflies of the East Coast agrees, reporting them from Georgia north to eastern New York and Conneticut and as far west as Nebraska and Texas.

So, what are they doing, perched on the sunny leaf-top platform? Have they seen our last post and are they commiserating about its poignant memories of Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodgers and hikes through the long gone trails in Flatbush, Brooklyn? Have they chosen one another as devoted mates? Surely they are not sharing insights about the yings and yangs of the Republicans and Democrats! It’s April, so its too early to summon the pool boy for drinks.

We were pleased to see them and pleased that they tolerated the approach of  our macro- lens.

Were there Falcate Orangetips in Brooklyn, New York, before the small farms sold out to the straw men and the developers who followed them?


A Female Falcate Orangetip Butterfly

Falcate orange tip butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

A morning maker, for sure. Drive the 37 miles to Raccoon Creek State Park, park the truck and head straight to that spot near the Nichol farmhouse. This is the place where I’ve sometimes seen Anthocharis midea. It’s May 6th and getting kind of late for spotting these darlings. You see what I saw. There she is: a healthy female butterfly, happily sipping nectar. It’s good that there isn’t a male nearby, because they will harass a female without let-up, complicating our determination  to photograph these early Spring whites.

This is the only orangetip white east of the Mississippi River. Males appear first and fly crazily looking for non-existent females. When the female butterflies appear, the males go nuts, demanding their full, complete attention. Our heroine here has probably completed her courtship and is feeding to insure healthy egg development.

Finding them is a treat, and a rush, because at some point in morning, they leaves. Bye bye! They may or may not reappear the next day?

I’ve never seen a Desert Orangetip Caterpillar. Cech and Tudor report that the caterpillars eat at night.

Will  you be viewing our post of the Desert Orangetip? Just 2,000. miles to the west. What a rich orange. How exactly is that done?

I’m 1/3 through Butterfly People by William Leach. I envy (Oops! not a good choice of words) the butterfly enthusiasts of the 19th century. They had such a rich variety of species to see, and were, it seems, quite collegial.