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).


Who Invented The Giant?

Giant Swallowtail butterfly on tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

You’re in the Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, some 814 miles from Times Square, New York, New York. Platoons of Cloudless Yellow Sulphurs are everywhere, American Lady’s abound, Sleepy Oranges are anything but, Carolina Satyrs patrol the lower strata, and Swallowtails busily work the tens of thousands of blooms. Spicebush, Black, Tiger and even Pipevine swallowtails are seen. Me, born and raised in brick, mortar and asphalt, I don’t forget to Thank G-d for enabling this and for letting me feast my eyes on it.

Suddenly, those eyes signal, Incoming! What happened? A big, big swallowtail has just flown in, at 10:15-ish. Bigger by a lot. Even bigger than the biggest Eastern Tiger females.

A Giant Swallowtail! It’s a Giant Swallowtail: a Papilio creshphontes. Now, with camera poised, comes the question, “Is it fresh? Does it sadly sport wing damage? No? None?” This determination has to be be in less than a split second, for Giants nectar furiously, and are here one second and gone the next!

I shoot away, for the colors and how they’re set out is indeed dramatic. Virginia did it. She created a beacon for flying winged beauties. 2018 sees the closing of Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, and the opening of a bigger, much more challenging Habitat II.

As I expect, my last exposure finds the Giant almost 100% out of view, just the outer edge of the hindwings tells me that the Giant has decided to move to a new bloom, and it’s never just a Tithonia bloom three feet away, instead you can count on it flying to a new flowerhead, twelve feet away.

I’m left thinking, “Who invented the Giant? Honest?”


“From This Valley,” They Sing

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

It’s plenty cold out. New Years Day came and went yesterday. Sitting here, exploring new blog postings, and I stop here, at this handsome male Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, met in Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania (some 8 hours west from New York, NY).

If I may take the liberty of speaking for nearly all of you, I am thinking of Spring, of new green growth about, and butterflies. Lots of butterflies, here there and in Your garden.

What jumps to my mind? One of my favorites tunes:  “From this valley they say you’re going, we’re goin’ miss your bright eyes and sweet smile, so remember the Red River Valley, and the old folks that call it their home. Come and sit by my side if you love me, do not hasten to bid me adieu, but remember . . . ”

Back in brick, mortar, asphalt, concrete Brooklyn, that was what I was humming, when solitary as usual, I was exploring vacant ‘lots’ for butterflies and more.

Come March or so, hum River River Valley again, and if with friends, have not a care what they might think, me almost silently humming that unlikely tune, me a guy from the City.


What Will 2018 Bring?

Earring Series - Jeff with Black Swallowtail Earrings (Best shot), at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

This is the shot with the Eastern Black Swallowtails fully on my right ear.

No way I can count the different ways that this shot moves me. I must start with that double-headed tear slowly working its way down to my mustache.  On to that ‘Jeff’s Earring’ of a mated pair of Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies, flew they did to my hat, then shoulder, then my right ear. The red, white and blue head band symbolizes much here, what with the tumultuous year we have all endured. The kind of ruddy look to me here makes some sense, this being the guy/kid who never even saw the golden spoon, growing up on the streets of Brooklyn, New York. There’s so much more talking to me here, in this image captured by Sylbie.

The thing is that this for me is an iconic shot, caught by a friend who was not supposed to be there then, with a pair of G-d’s most beautiful adorning my ear, and she with wings fully shared.

Just back from being Wow’d!!! in the Rio Grand Valley, and hours from New Year 2018, I am buzzed by expectancy. What will ’18 bring? And, as Jan shared, will our path’s cross?