We’re Setting the ‘Table’ for Red-spotted Purples

Red-Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 8/24/07

We’re in our new home, of 3 months now. We moved from Eatonton, kind of sadly leaving our backyard, some 120′ x 120.’ That yard now has more than a hundred ( 3 hundred?) natives Georgia plants, set in 8 new, extensive beds. Almost all are hostplants for butterflies native to or occasional migrants to middle Georgia.

We moved to Macon area, and our new backyard already had about 20 large azaleas and others plants. Again we’ve been adding Georgia natives, including Black Cherry trees (3), Linden (Bee tree or Tilia) (2)  and our neighbor next door now has two rare Florida Willow trees set in along the creek running through his property.

Native cherries, Linden and Willows are the hostplants for this attractive butterfly, the Red-spotted Purple. They fly throughout Georgia, and they have been my trail companions for decades, as Jeff quietly sang “I’m Just A Lonely Boy, Lonely And Blue, I’m All Alone With . . . .” especially during the years that Frieda L”H was valiantly battling Cancer. Often they’d follow me on trails, in the very same Raccoon Creek State Park (southwestern Pennsylvania) pictured here.

Our Black Cherry, Bee Tree and the neighboring Florida Willows are in and all growing robustly. We’ve set the table for Red-spotted Purples and we await their arrival, much.

Jeff

Red Spotted Purple Butterfly’s Red Spots

Red-spotted purple butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

When I meet a Red Spotted Purple Butterfly I check to see if it is fresh (recently eclosed from its chrysalis) and if it bears red spots on its forewings. On its upper (dorsal) forewings. Most of them lack prominent red spots.

I followed this one, at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania because I saw that it had beautiful red spots at the apex (outside corner) of its wings.

For reasons yet not clear to me, I Love those red spots, and smile when I find them!

Jeff

NB, Were those Georgia Asters in the background?

Kind of Missing Red-spotted Purples

Red-Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 8/24/07

Our move from Pittsburgh to Georgia has produced a whole lot of change. Most of that change is welcome and appreciated. I do not miss the 2 feet to 3 feet of snow, and I continue to respect all of you who deal with icy mornings with grace and ease. I never did realized how much of my speech is sprinkled with Brooklynese, until I landed here in Eatonton in central Georgia’s Piedmont region.

I adore, heavy adore the ability to begin working in your garden in the beginning of February, and continuing to tend garden into the end of November. That’s long be my life’s dream, and I love it.

I’m not missing as much as I thought I’d be. The native nurseries (Nearly Native in Fayetteville, Night Song in Canton, and Beechwood Natives in Lexington are excellent. The state parks, wildlife refuges and National wildlife refuges beckon. The medical professionals are not what I expected, they’re excellent and well equipped, not backward and primitive as I feared.

The daily legions of butterflies that we see each day in my 85% natives garden just thrill us! My dreams of having my own hackberry, pussy toes, sassafras trees, Atlantic white cedars, paw paws, tulip poplars, lead trees, Hercules clubs, mountain mints, milkweeds, crotons, passionflowers, pipevines . . . delight!

We are seeing fewer of the trail buddies that I used to love back north, like this Red-spotted Purple. I’m kind of missing them, that kept this lone trail hiker company, always reminding that I was for sure now alone . . . .

Jeff

The No Respect Butterfly

Red-Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 8/24/07

Mr. Rodney Dangerfield (RD) would commiserate with this butterfly. Johny Carson would goad him on, and ask Rodney if he [Rodney] felt akin to this butterfly. This would send RD on a 5-minute tear, likening how he and this Red-Spotted Purple butterfly get “no respect.”

I’m not seeing many Red-Spotted Purples here in Georgia, but in early summer they were very, very common back in Pennsylvania. I loved them, and played a little game with myself, challenging JLZ to find an individual with very prominent red spots at the margins of those forewings.

I like them. For 2 decades, they would appear on the trails that I worked, we repeating over and over again the routine: I approach on the trail, they fly up no more than 2 feet up, to a new spot 12 feet up trail. I continue my hiking, reach them, and again they fly up a bit, and take a new spot, again some 12 feet up trail. Trail companions they were, reminding me of my trusty black Russia pup, Petra.

Find a stunner of a Red-Spotted Purple, and you wonder to yourself, Why do some of us search the wilds of Brazil, India, Bolivia or Myanmar, when here in the USA, you may find a Red-Spotted that equals any of the rare stunners in any corner of the world.

Maybe it’s because you almost never see them nectaring atop beautiful wildflowers? Maybe that truism, ‘Familiarity breeds contempt.’ Some really, really want to find aberrant types or like the Lower Rio Grande Valley stalwarts, want to spot and report a butterfly not seen there for what, “10 years!”

They remain, my vote for the No Respect Butterfly, seen as we sail down trails, but infrequently offered the respect and attention they richly deserve.

Jeff

Red-Spotted Purple . . . Seeking R-E-S-P-E-C-T

On A Beauty Scale Of 1 To 10 . . . with 10 Being . . . ?

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Red-Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 7/26/07

Don’t know why it is so difficult, although on the other hand, approaching Limenitis arthemis astyanax usually is fruitless, as they flee, just as you’ve gotten into position to click your shutter button. In this instance, our Red-spotted purple feels assured that it is 100% hidden from me, enabling me to set myself and shoot away.

Here at Raccoon Creek State Park, 35 minutes west of Pittsburgh (once the steel capitol of the world), they usually are first seen in June. They are not familiar to most people who encounter them. They almost never are seen nectaring on flowers. The females try to stay away from biggies like humans, and the males are most often seen taking moisture on trails. Watching hikers and strollers approaching these butterflies on a trail is fascinating. As they approach the Red-spotted purple, Average Hiker/Naturalist’s LOUD footsteps (vibrating through the substrate) trigger quick flight…

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