Bergamots Now!

Bergamot Bloom photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania 7/31/14

Bergamot is in bloom now. Raccoon Creek State Park in Hookstown, Pennsylvania has a more than 100 acre meadow that features a large stand of them. Be there at the right time in the morning, and you’ll enjoy the show: Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Great Spangle Fritillaries, Silver Spotted Skippers, Monarchs, Pipevine Swallowtails and Spicebush Swallowtails will visit Bergamot for its nectar.

Those stands of Bergamot are so sweet to the eye. The sea of pinkish purple (?) is a crowd pleaser, though I’ve never been there to hear what others think of that view.

If you’re there between about 9:45 A.M. and 10:40 A.M. the butterflies arrive from all directions. I’ve long wondered what’s in the nectar that is obviously being pumped in those 55 minutes? I’d think it included several sugars, some proteins and trace hormones, pheromones and fragrant hydrocarbons. Got a degree in Biochem? What’s in the nectar of a Bergamot bloom? Jerry?

Jeff

Another You’ll Never Ever See?

Rare Skipper, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Brunswick, GA

Flipping the pages of my copy of Jeffrey Glassberg’s Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America ( Princeton University Press, 2nd Edition ), I stopped often, to acknowledge how fortunate I’ve been these years. I stopped on page 392, at this little under-appreciated, the Salt Marsh Skipper. Glassberg notes they are “U-A.” Uncommon to Abundant.

They fly from Rhode Island all the way along the coast to Texas. That sounds like a great swath of the United States. Yet, no. They’re only found in salt marshes that line the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. That’s just say from Rhode Island all the way to Texas, but, that Big but, just in the Saltgrass, perhaps no farther than 50 feet or less from the waters’ edge.

So those in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi Louisiana and Texas can only see a Salt Marsh Skipper if the search for it within some 50 feet of the shoreline, in Saltgrass.

Sort of hidden in plain view, no? John and Nancy led me to this one, in Brunswick, Georgia. Another one you’ll likely never see?

Jeff

Powdered?

Arizona Powdered Skipper Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ

There I go again. Tooting that horn. How does it happen that I made some 4 different trips to White Tank Mountains Regional Park, west of Sun City West, Arizona, and see a “U?” Not just a “U” but a “U all year” according to Jeffrey Glassberg in his Second Edition of A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America?

You ask where did I see this Arizona Powdered Skipper? I found this arroyo (bone dry creek bed) and worked it for many hundreds of feet. It was summer, and very, very few flowers could be seen. That kind of made it scientific. Find a plant sporting tiny flowers, and wait there some minutes. That stratem paid off several times, including the arrival of this hard to find gem.

Do I recommend this work for the faint of heart? NO. On a later trip I almost didn’t make it out of the arroyo, me lulled by that ‘I can go a little farther than I went the day before’ . . . . until without Warning! I nearly lost all motor ability (Heat stroke?) and was too s-up-d to use my cell to Get Help (I’m a men, for sure, Yes, “men”). I managed to work my way out, most have looked like a drunk, hauling myself from bush to another bush, sitting in the modest shade of said bush, and repeating this again and again. I never interrupted “911” even if I could have hailed them on my cell. It’s tough being a “Men!”

Advice: If you’re shooting in an Arizona arroyo on a late summer morning, DO NOT DO SO ALONE.

Jeff

White-Patched Skipper (Mission)

White-Patched skipper butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

I saw one, during those days in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, in Texas. Here it is. I look at it, and Hmmm, those wings tips, the head, couldn’t I have done better?

Then, I flip open my Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Glassberg, 2017) and a wry smile grows at the corners of my mouth. Why?

This White-Patched Skipper, a spreadwing skipper butterfly, is “U” for uncommon – “R” for rare! So there it is. I was fortunate to finally visit the National Butterfly Center during the last week of December 2017, and for a brief moment, I found this uncommon-rare skipper butterfly, ’til he sped away, into the surrounding botany. He look just fine, and I was more than thrilled to have seen this very hard to find butterfly, a duskywing relation.

Thank Y-u.

Jeff