Pipevine Colors?

Close Up of Pipevine Swallowtail  Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow as it perched on Bergamot flower at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 7/31/14

We’re seeing many friends and soon to be friends posting images of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies. I enjoy those pictures, and confession? I usually am examining, do they, have they captured the mesmerizing color that Pipevine may deliver?

Here’s my entry in the Pipevine Color Board. When this Pipevine flew in and did what I so wanted it to do, head straight to the Bergamot in abundant bloom in Doak Field (Raccoon Creek State Park, Hookstown, Pennsylvania) I was ready. Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies hover over the flowers they take nectar from, with their wings beating furiously. It’s difficult, very, to score an image with super terrific wing color. Flew that I’ve seen ever capture striking blues, corals, whites, black.

The road to success in getting exceptional Pipevine color? First you need luck, for your butterfly must be fresh and spectacularly tinted. Then, Ma’am, with sunlight at your back, and morning sunlight (not much later than 10:00 AM, shoot away, not 5 exposures, but . . . say, 50.

Did this image achieve Pipevine Color Amazingness? You tell me!


Zebra Swallowtails On The Beach

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

I was amazed/shocked/ecstatic to find them. They were on a little sandy beach, at the edge of a small fresh water pond in Mason Neck State Park in Virginia. What’d I do? I approached them cautiously at a probable speed of .25 miles per hour. I kept thinking that I’d never seen such a sight before, and probably would never see Zebra coupled together like this again. My memory bank did an automatic audit, and I realized that I’d never seen Zebras like this. Those 13 summers spent with my grandparents in their tiny ‘bungalow’ in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York left me with memories of couples loving on the beach, but no, no, these were Zebras Swallowtails.

My super-slow approach turned out not to be necessary. They did not acknowledge me at all, they entranced or whatever. I shoot Macro- so I had to get very close, that did not startle them. You ask how long they remained entwined? Nearly 45 full minutes, they barely moving. As we saw back in Rockaway Beach, on the Atlantic Ocean (Beach 65th to be exact), nothing bothered them that whole time, nothing intruded or saw them as vulnerable.

A Burt Lancaster and what’s her name, reliving splendor on the beach. To think that maybe none of you have ever seen such a scene before. Wow!


The Presidential Giant

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

I think I once saw the back of the head of an American President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. I remember that everyone around me was looking to catch a glimpse of President Eisenhower. That’s thousands of people all trying to see him, and hoping to come away with that memory: To remember that they saw a President of the United States.

There is a butterfly that commands that same universal attention, this one, the Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes). What have I seen? My head turns, and all heads turn when this magnificent butterfly gracefully flies in, and all eyes are fixed while those 2 or 3 minutes, that it flies around, looking for nectar, go by.

From the field guides, It appears that Giants may be seen in about 39 states in these United States. That is Presidential, no?

Where this one? The Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat I in Eatonton, Georgia.


Handsome Eastern!

Black Swallowtail photographed by Jeff Zablow in Traci Meadow, Fayette Township, PA

We were in Traci’s Meadow (Fayatte Township in southwestern Pennsylvania). At the top of the gentle rising land nearby, a new development of houses stood. Traces Meadow? You see it here, lush, vibrant and full of wildflowers. Traci shared that they developer of the nearby homes wanted to extend his building to this vulnerable meadow, but was for the moment blocked by environmental issues.

This male Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) few in, and he sports fresh, spectacular coloration. His yellow pm spot band is unusually extensive and bolder than most, and his sup apical yellow spots, at the front on that left forewing, are positioned somewhat differently. He is his own butterfly, adorned boldly to catch the eye of females.

I’ll need your help in ID’ing the wildflower he is on. It must be a fine nectar pump of a flowerhead, for he remains on it long enough for me to score an acceptable image.

At the time I told Traci that I soooo wished that some conservation group would jump at the opportunity to seize this meadow as a forever conserved refuge, for it was rich in butterflies and so much more.


HolyLand Swallowtail

Papilla Machaon butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

Here in the Georgia Piedmont, this last week or two has produced many Tiger Swallowtails in our new Macon garden. Facebook too has shared many posts that gleefully share news of good number of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails making their appearance in central Georgia. We’re watching them nectar on our Hibiscus, Cosmos, Azaleas (the 20 or so large bushes in our backyard now have several in bloom!), Coneflowers, Joe Pye and more.

While surfing through our Media Library here, I stopped at this, an image of a Papilio Machaon butterfly found at Ramat Hanadiv Refuge in central Israel, not far from the Mediterranean Sea. This HolyLand swallowtail, I male I think, is difficult to photograph, usually refusing to allow you to come closer than 10 feet from it.

Imagine, a HolyLand Swallowtail . . . wouldn’t that tickle your fancy?