Happy Mother’s Day – May 13, 2018

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Happy Mother’s Day this May 13, 2018!

Our Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly here is enjoying the healthy nectar from Butterflyweed blooms.

That small birdstruck tear in her right forewing? What mother didn’t sacrifice to insure that we were safe, happy and prepared for all that we will confront?

Indifferent to her stunning beauty, she is all about preparing for her life’s work, just as we saw our mothers do.


Eastern Black Swallowtails Coupled



Earring Series - Blackswallowtail butterflies coupled, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

A better image of the pair, with the female’s dorsal side in view

I look at this image, photographed Oh so many months ago, in the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat (Eatonton, Georgia) and experience much encouragement. Much.

I detach myself from subjectivity, and walk myself away from my deep connection to this image capture. I study it, with these 2 Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies, she closest to us, he with wings closed and mostly hidden from us.

Truth be told, I am very proud of this photo. Such beauty, grace and form. Sylbie Yon’s shot, taken some minutes later, has been viewed hundreds of times, and can be seen in the series she shot there and then, in our “Jeff’s Earring” section.

That morning was unforgettable.


Zebras Beached

Zebra swallowtail butterflies photographed at Mason's Neck State Park, VA

How many? I may well have shot between 50,000 and 75,000 slides of butterflies over these past few decades. Encouragement came from home, and that was enough fuel for years of fieldwork, taking me from Pittsburgh as far west as Arizona, and to the east to Ein Gedi, Israel, the HolyLand.

Butterflies seen? Countless. Memories? Wow! many. Cows menacing me, the city kid, who grew up “On the Streets,” and never knew a cow could glare. Then there was that Eastern timber rattlesnake that was such a cooperative subject in Rector, PA that this Brooklyner suddenly realized, Mwaw! was within easy striking distance of the 6-footer! There was the Yucca Giant Skipper that I did not see two days ago and then this beach scene on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, in Mason’s Neck State Park.

Butterflies flee your approach. These Zebra Swallowtail butterflies were so intent on their purposeful coupling that they disregarded my close approach with a macro lens, for more than a half hour shoot. I posted some time ago that this challenged my much earlier education in life, on the beach at Arverne, New York, and all those summers at Grandma’s summer bungalow. The unspoken common dignity then was to steer a wide berth around lovers entwined on the beach or under the boardwalk.

Funny then here, where I entertained this repeated unease at being intrusive; that I was not accommodating lovers on the ocean sand. They’re butterflies, but that’s what bothered me, Honest.

And yes, Virginia, there were Paw Paws growing there.


Where are the Pipevine Cats?

Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars on Pipevine leaf photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

Virginia pointed them out to me. They were in the Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, in the center of town, Eatonton, Georgia. A whole bunch of cats, there that July 2017 morning.

I said ‘no,’ it’d be tough to get a good image of these so tiny caterpillars, shooting my hand-held Canon Elan film camera. She, in that firm manner of hers, said, “do it.” And of course I did, and here they are.

I made no effort to herd this passel of Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, pausing to soak in the morning sun. They would begin to consume those same leaves. Pipevines only eat pipevine plants. The Habitat I sported many pipevine plants, and so supported Pipevine Swallowtails caterpillars.

I’ve seen Pipevine Swallowtails in Pennsylvania, perhaps 2 a year. The Habitat I, in Georgia, featured 3 or 4 adults a day. When the morning sun reflects back from the top of their hindwings . . . Oh My Goodness!

(Habitat I had to be moved, when the city of Eatonton quietly sold the land under it. Eatonton did agree to give a much larger, nicely placed set of acres to the Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, to now be called Habitat II. It’s Grand Opening is next month on the 19th of April. Consider an Arbor Day with music, butterflies, events, walks and festivities).