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

Salute to the Red Admiral

Red Admiral Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

Red Admiral Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

I’ve seen them everywhere I traveled to this 2016. Southwestern Pennsylvania, western New York State, northwestern Pennsylvania, the Maryland Shore (mid-shore and lower shore), the Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia, Rock Hawk in Eatonton, Georgia as well as Monroe, Georgia, Athens Georgia and the fabulous islands of the Georgia coast: Skidaway Island, Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island, and in unforgettable Shellman Bluff, Georgia.

If all works out, I look forward to seeing them in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area near Perry, Florida, the Florida Panhandle.

In this year where much of the USA East has a dearth of butterflies, the Red Admiral has joined me, everywhere I went! Preoccupied with the search, it’s . . . Battle Stations!! when the stark beauty of a red admiral flies in. Another battle ensues, your mind knows you have some wonderful images of them in your slide cabinet, but, but, your heart differs, urging, go ahead, it’s spectacular!

Vanessa atalanta thrills above and below. Below, not shown here, flashes that set of colors that trigger adrenaline flow, red, white and blue one against the other. My mind accelerates back to P.S. 244 in Brooklyn, where the installation of patriotism was fixed in my heart.

I kid you not.

Jeff

Where Would You Look?

Close up of Red Admiral Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow as it was basking on a trail at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania
Today is February 11th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This Red Admiral butterfly was photographed on August 27th, 2014. I was scouring Doak field for butterflies when this beaut flew in and stopped on a leaf. A real looker this one, sporting those smart red-orange bands, blue dots at the trailing ends of its hindwings, bright orange bands along its hindwing margins and even white tips on antennae. This butterfly is dressed to the 9’s.

“Where Would You Look?” asks a toughie. If you went outdoors today, or tomorrow, determined to find this Vanessa Atalanta, where should you look? To begin, they are common to all eastern US states, from Maine all the way south to Florida. Where in your area are they today, February 11th?

Answer? You’re unlikely to find their eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises or adults. Huh? Almost all the ones you will find in your garden, parks, farms, schoolyards and greenbelts fly up from Southern states in the Spring. Rarely do they overwinter as pupae. They are not well equipped to withstand northern winters. Remember those -9F nights we had this winter? This winged beauty has no adaptation for those temperatures.

You may hesitate to get into your car and drive 14 hours to St. Simons Island, Georgia. The butterflies take their time flying up from around there, but, that is what they do. Route I-95 anyone?

Jeff

Red Admiral Butterfly Nectaring in ….

Red admiral butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv,  Israel

Where are we? Spain, Denver, Estonia, Sao Paulo, Toronto, Moscow, Great Barrington, Baghdad, Paris, Shanghai, Wichita, New Jersey, the San Fernando Valley? Where in the world is this? …. Ramat Hanadiv, in west central Israel, not very far from the shores of the Mediterranean. Let’s go, count the colors of this very fresh Vanessa atalanta. Black, white, red, blue. An eye pleaser, no?

You can’t imagine how many approaches I had to make to finally be able to snap away and capture suitable images of this shmeksy butterfly. This is among those that are so unique in appearance, that as soon as you see one, you remember the last one you saw, and your brain instantaneously recognizes those reddish blazes on the forewings. Male or female? It is difficult to distinguish the sex of Red admirals.

They perch for a bit, then they fly to nectar. Then they perch some more, and again fly to a spot where they can sip nectar. Once the morning ends, they disappear for some time, then reappear, and perch/nectar, perch/nectar. Males do reveal themselves eventually, because they are especially territorial. They establish a perch, and return to it repeatedly. They challenge other butterflies or insects that enter their imagined territory. Each and every time I see Vanessa a. males speed to make these challenges, I compare them to my rather rough childhood. Many a time I had steel on my person…. These gentlemen fly off to challenge with nothing more than sylvan wings…. Impressive.

Racheli and the staff at Ramat Hanadiv offer a beautiful, welcoming menu of perennials, annuals, and shrubs for their butterfly neighbors. And the excellent restaurant, where I have already noted that after a morning’s effort, I enjoy a comfortable, tasty, fresh gluten-free lunch. Not without gratitude for it all.

Jeff