Butterfly Peril #1 ?

Argiope with sulphur prey photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

At night in bushes, perennials and trees? I’m not sure I can count all of the perils that butterflies face: ants, beetles, lizards, spiders, birds, snakes, assassin bugs . . . . During the day this same list balloons, with legions of additional predators that prey on butterflies.

When you run wingedbeauty.com, and are at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat here in Eatonton, Georgia so many of these predators are met in real-time. Now, you know that images of a predator preying on a beautiful butterfly immobilized, make many cringe, darken their mood instantly.

I have long thought about the urgency of helping interested people learn about butterflies. Habitat disappears by the minute, pesticides and their ilk kill, and long ago I thought about how the USA”s millions of pristine, grass covered gardens deter butterfly survival. We discussed this back in John Adams High School in South Ozone Park, New York, in the 1970’s, on a much simpler level. With Doug Tallaway’s book, I personally understood. wingedbeauty.com is a platform to share, see and understand.

So, when I stood there, and saw this Cloudless Sulphur butterfly in the web of this Black and Yellow Argiope spider, maybe 4 seconds after the Cloudless took a sad turn in flight . . . I first wondered if y’all had the stomach for this very natural scene and I knew I’d have own debate some time later, post it or not post it?

Me? I’m glad I’m not a butterfly. The dangers are many. I fought each and every one I had to in Brooklyn, back then. This Cloudless not only has no defense against attack, but choose turning left instead of right, and you’re ‘chopped liver.’

Jeff

Seen A Blue-Spotted Arab?

Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow

Been to the Arava Valley, Dead Sea area? That’s the arid strip that has Israel on its west and Jordan on the east side. That’s where you’d have to go to see this Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly.

I went there. I took the Israel train to the Beer’sheva University station and caught a bus for a nearly 2 hour drive down a gently descending landscape, to Ein Gedi.

Blue-Spotted Arabs were why I went there. They looked so different, so exotic.

I stayed in the SPNI Ein Gedi guest quarters. Didn’t have a rental car, and glad of that, for the bus ride from the train station passed hundreds of homes whose Bedouin residents probably . . .

Here we go again. Jeff? Why don’t you share images of this butterfly that are more easily seen? Well, Elvira, they prefer rock strewn habitat, and each and every time you attempt to cross over the rock to exercise your Macro- lens, they would 23 skidoo!

They were mostly seen along the ‘walls’ lining Wadis (bone dry riverbeds) and that was a crapshoot, for the wadis sported signs Warning!!! all to not enter the wadi, for should a snap! storm hit, those wadis suffer surges of water of incredible ferocity. I’m here with you, so good, there were no such that day.

Jeff

Large Orange Sulphur Butterfly (Mission)

Large Sulphur Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Every day, new, new. I can’t say that I was getting used to that mini-jolt, when after decades of seeking, you come upon a butterfly you’ve never seen before.

This Large Orange Sulphur butterfly was taking a brief break from what male sulphurs do (fly continuously, until they find a female, even if that takes hours to do).

We were in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, some less than 2 miles from Mexico.

Did I also meet my first Orange-Barred Sulphur that Texas week? No, but I remember that day at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, when I have almost no doubt that I startled a vagrant Orange-Barred Sulphur on a trail I followed one morning, in, 2005 or 2006.

Jeff

Sleepy Orange on Tithonia

Sleepy Orange butterfly on tithonioa, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

Sitting here, studying this image of a fine Sleepy Orange butterfly, leaves me looking forward. Looking forward to returning and walking through the squadrons of these perky little sulphur butterflies, in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch. There were times there when I got this crazy thought? How many Sleepys are flying in the +/- 2-3 acre Briar Patch Habitat?

Good that I have some sense, for these golden-orange butterflies are in near constant motion, and the fool who tries to count them, without sophisticated quadrant tools, will only find frustration. They are flying everywhere there, and anywhere there, and crisscrossing constantly.

Sennas and other of their hostplants have been planted here in abundance, thus the crowd of Sleepys ever present.

They not only keep me awake with questions of their number, but I spend some time trying to find a better name for these medium-sized happy fliers. ‘Sleepy’ really is not a good choice of name for them. I’d bet that some of you who know this southern butterfly (I’ve never seen one in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, etc.) could/have a better name for these very serious, more focused cuties.

Jeff

Hard To Look At?

Argiope with sulphur prey photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

August brings new denizens in wild habitat. Photographers of wildlife need no reminder that this is the month when Argiopes and Orb Weavers appear. We had better remember this or we will walk into their huge webs, and find these Big spiders scrambling down our shoulders or backs, determined to flee from us as quickly as they can. I still remember when this happened to me on this trip down to Georgia. Last year, I joked that I field discovered that Georgia spider web proteins and Pennsylvania spider web proteins . . . tasted exactly alike!

Butterflies produce large numbers of offspring, raising questions such as, why then, don’t we see more butterflies about? An answer is provided in this image. This sleepy orange butterfly miscalculated. As soon as it flew into the web filaments, it stuck to them. This female, Black and Yellow Argiope spider felt the web vibrating, and sped down the web, to the hapless yellow. Here, she has arrived, and speedily circles the butterfly, ‘throwing’ web filaments around the yellow, as the spider circles its prey, over and over again.

Totally ensnared, the Argiope then rushed the butterfly, and sunk her fangs into it, paralyzing it into passivity.

Spiders, wasps, birds, mantids, lizards, snakes and others hunt for butterflies, and that is part of the Plan. This Plan has worked well for millennia, well before we came along to witness it, and cringe, when we see winged beauties become food for predators.

Jeff