Sleepy Orange Butterfly

Sleepy Orange Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at White Tank Mountains Regional Park, AZ

Remember that kid who they called ‘Tiny’ although he was the biggest kid in the grade? Then consider that Sleepy Orange butterflies are just as active and alert as the other Yellows. The field guides attribute its name to an early expert who noted that some of them have markings that looked almost like a “sleepy” or closed eyelid. That became this butterfly’s name in the 19th century. If you were given a chance, what would you name this butterfly?

This Eurema nicippe posed for this photograph at White Mountains Regional Park, west of Phoenix. It was during the first week of March 2008, and this Spring 2008 was dazzling with billions of wildflowers everywhere you turned. January had seen the end of my wife’s 7+ years of battling Cancer. This feast for my eyes was most welcome. I flew away from the winter in the northeast, away from being a caregiver, away from years of feeling helpless when confronted with the scourge of fatal disease.

This butterfly appears to be a male. That morning in early March I arrived quite early. This Sleepy Orange was just rousing, and I watched as he flew to this leaf and began his morning ritual. Lots of other photographers share photographs that bring you much closer to the insect. My photographic practice with my 100mm 2.8 Canon macro- lens requires that I approach within 2 feet or less. With this butterfly, I had to stop where I did, or risk losing him. After all seeing me approaching, which is something he can do, must register as a BIG RISK.

Sleepy Oranges fly from Florida to Southern California. They are rare visitors to the northern states.



Falcate Orangetip Butterflies

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

Finding Anthocharis Midea butterflies is a considerable challenge. They fly in Southwestern Pennsylvania from mid-April through mid-May and don’t stick around beyond that. No persuasive argument that your workload prevents you from getting out with a camera; or that you just completed filing your U.S. tax returns; or that your family has patiently awaited the end of your frenetic 19-hour a day schedule. None of these arguments can keep Falcate Orangetips from doing their predictable disappearing act every May. This year I was determined to photograph them and did. Yay!

These beauties fly with delicate gossimer wings, and can be found for no more than a hour our so in the morning. This particular morning was a productive one. I found Falcate Orangetips, the sun was full and these two members of the the Subfamily Pierinae (Whites) were standing side by side on a flowerhead. He is on your left, showing sweet orange forewing tips and she is fashionably displaying her finely marbled ventral wing surface.

Males spend most of their time courting females. Females are intent on sipping nectar, and they appear to only reluctantly note the energetic interest of the males.

The Falcate Orangetip caterpillars feed on members of the mustard family. They live through the winter months as pupa, and I’ve never seen one. Have you?


Anthocharis Damone Syra Butterfly

Anthocharis Damone Sera Butterfly photographed in Northern Golan, Israel

March in northernmost Israel. The Golan region is spectacular. This trail that we are on is lined with wildflowers that are mostly all new to us. Our Anthocharis Damone Syra butterfly was not the first that we saw that day. It was the first to stop and nectar. That was good.

He was such a sweet treat to the eyes. As the yellow butterflies in the U.S., he came barreling down the trail, likely searching for a suitable female mate. But being a sensible fellow, he attended to his need for the nectar and protein that will fuel the many hours of flying that were ahead of him.

Travelling away from your home is such a rush, butterflies you have never imagined existed flying toward you…OMG! What’s that? Over and over again. As with our Anthocharis Damone Syra. What is it’s English name? Quien sabe? My field guides don’t share that.


Desert Orangetip Butterfly

Desert Orangetip Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ

I’ve been to south-central Arizona several times. This was my first visit in early Spring. It was the first week in March 2008 and Arizona enjoyed abundant rain in February. Nirvana!

White Tank Mountains Regional Park, just west of Phoenix was a painter’s palette of vibrantly colored wildflowers. Everywhere, the green was green, the flowers were rich in hue.

It was a terrific time to seek butterflies. They too were abundant and ‘fresh.’ Personally, I had just undergone years of pain, culminating in grave loss. It was so good to be in such a resilient place. The desert in bloom. I needed that.

Anthocharis cethura is a desert orangetip, enjoying the bounty of those early Spring rains.’Though loaded with buttery yellow, it is included in the white butterflies.

I was very glad to have encountered A. cethrua. After all, I was in the right place at the right time. It was an elixir after enduring another Pittsburgh winter.