Six Packed On a Pipevine Leaf

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

Share my first introduction to Pipevine Butterfly caterpillars. Imagine my glee when I looked closer and closer at those tiny cats on that leaf, until it dawned on me: You are meeting your first ever Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars! That was a special moment at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton.

I’d spent 2 decades looking out for Pipevine Swallowtails, they quite ‘Uncommon’ in western Pennsylvania. We planted pipevine in our 303 Garden in Eatonton, Georgia, and we’ve hosted cats for the last 2 years. There are not cats there yet, although we have no doubt that Mammas will come along and deposit eggs a 303. Our 800 Macon garden  . . . has no Pipevine plants yet, and we have to correct that oversight. Pipevine plants trellis nicely, require zero care, and we’ve not had them bothered by pests or pestilence.

Seeing a Battus philenor male, dorsal (upper) or ventral (underside) in just the right sunlight, at just the right angle? Worth a Yelp! for sure.



3 Black Cherry Trees & A Tulip Poplar Stump

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

Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies come here every day. Several times a day. Here, is my new homes, of 3 months, in North Macon, Georgia.

The back garden is large, and we’ve already added 3 native Black Cherry trees, their favorite hostplant. We had tree removal men take out alot of trees, to open up the center of the back garden, open it to some sun. One of the stumps (cut to ground-level) has now sprouted (well, re-sprouted) and that late winter cut tree, bare of leaves, is sending up Tulip Poplar sprouts. Tulip Poplar is the Eastern Tiger’s other hostplant.

Totally excited we are, for by next year, our 3 Black Cherry trees should grow from their present 2 feet to 4 feet in height, and just maybe that’s enough for 1, 2 or all 3 of them to host Eastern Tiger eggs. The Tulip Poplar (Tuliptree) sprouts won’t be removed, and they too many beckon Tigers.

We don’t do the self-defeating garden mistakes. We don’t use chemicals (zero), don’t mist for mosquitoes . . . we don’t use chemicals at all. It looks like our neighbors don’t hire mosquitoes spray companies, so we will have little worry that neighboring poison sprays will drift over to us.

We will be 101% expectant in 2021, with garden activity beginning not in late April as it used to in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (700 miles north of here), rather here in middle Georgia Spring 2021 will begin in . . . the first week of February! Yippee!


N.B., This hunk of a male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was seen in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia, very, very early on a sunny morning, when he was prepping his wings

Spicebush Swallowtail Visitor

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

My morning check of how our young Macon natives garden was in full swing, when that big Smile appeared on Brooklyn’s face, for what did I see. A female Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly was at one of our newish Sassafras trees (all 18″” of it), setting eggs on her hostplant. Moments later she left it and searched a bit, soon finding another Sassafras and depositing egg on it too. When a Spicebush Swallowtail comes to YOUR garden and leaves its eggs on your Sassafras or on your Spicebush, well, that’s a sweet sight.

We’ll now be on the lookout for the caterpillars that hatch from those eggs, taking them in if necessary (we have such a butterfly enclosure cage). What would be the best? The best would be if Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies establish themselves here, rent-free.

This one you see here is a male Spicebush, photographed in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. For those of you out of the country, we’re in the American southeast, 2 hours and 15 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean.

Jeff happy? Yes, yes.


Giants Delight!

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

Our 800 Georgia Natives Garden in our new home is just now in its 3rd month. It excites us daily, with amazing butterflies flying in. On Saturday, a Giant Swallowtail butterfly appeared, and she searched our trees, bushes and perrenials until she found the Hercules Club young tree that we set in one week before, A larger than usual potted Hercules Club, we were overjoyed when it looked healthy days after we planted it (we made sure to add lots of sand to the mix).

Saturday’s Giant remained at the hostplant of Giants for some 8 or 9 minutes, setting eggs here and there. When we brought the Hercules Club home from Jim & Debi’s Nearly Native Nursery (Fayetteville, Georgia) it already had eggs on it. With the set of new eggs, we felt like expectant grandparents.

When a Giant flies in, its stop what you’re doing and gaze. When you arrive at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat (Eatonton, Georgia) early, very early, and find this huge Giant male warming its wings in the first warming rays of the morning sun . . . How can I fully share the JOY?


While Planting A Large Hercules Club Today . . .

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly on Tithonia photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

We came home from Nearly Native Nursery (Fayetteville, Georgia, just south of Atlanta) with a large Hercules Club. What a terrific addition to our 800 garden. Hercules Club grows to become a small tree, and it is a hostplant for that amazing butterfly of the South, the Giant Swallowtail butterfly.

We now have 2 Hercules Club plants, and the excitement builds, for several days ago, while the large Hercules Club was still in its large bucket, a female Giant came along and I watched, pleased as a peach, while it returned again and again to lay eggs on the Hercules Club, though it was still in bucket!

Searching through our Media Library, I’ve chosen this image to share, an image of a Giant Swallowtail nectaring on a Tithonia bloom (Mexican Sunflower) in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. Just hours ago we set that sizable plant into the ground here, added sand to the soil (they enjoy soil with sandy texture) and I so look forward to the years ahead, with our 2 Hercules Club plants, and we hope a steady stream of Giants flying gracefully in the deposit their eggs and to nectar on our 800 Tithonia, Zinnias, Joe Pye, Bricktellia, and so much more.