As we watch February 2017 wane, and we see our daffodils peak here, friends farther south of Pittsburgh are sharing images of perennials in bloom, and butterflies flying . . . now! Knock on wood, for the Weather.com forecast here calls for moderate temperatures in the next 2 whole weeks. Carramba!! With some of those 14 forecasts predicting temps above 60F, we can expect butterflies: Cabbage whites, Eastern Commas & Mourning cloaks, and you can almost ‘take that to the bank.’
This view is very special to me, enjoyed at the restricted military reserve in central Pennsylvania. You remember that I travelled there 2 years ago, in June, when it is opened for 4 days, for folks like us to see and go Pop-eye! at the sight of Regal fritillary butterflies. George Washington saw them throughout the colonies, but today, the only ones known to fly between Maine and the Panhandle are in this Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reserve, near Harrisburg, PA and near Penn State University. This instant look captures a very shmeksy! Pipevine swallowtail butterfly, at the thistle bar.
Those regal fritillaries fulfilled a long-term goal. Now what butterflies fly out at my field guides, as I turn the pages? Diana fritillaries in the mountains of northern Georgia (Who? to lead me to them??), Uncommon commas in northern Maine (once again, who??), Northern metalmarks & Swamp metalmarks in Ohio (That one is booked!), Great Purple hairstreaks (Virginia?), Dorcas coppers (That Ohio caper?), the 3 northern Fritillaries that I have yet to make the acquaintance of (Bog, Purplish & Silver-bordered), Viola’s Little Wood-Satyr (???) & Cofaqui Giant-skipper (Dare I ask my friend for another favor???) for starters. Then there is Texas, northeastern Texas (Dreamy!) and my eyes extend to Vancouver Island (With a very experienced resident).
2017, dare I to dream. With the ’06 Tundra willing, Petra (my black russian) eager, and sufficient resource$, the excitement just keeps bubbling up in me. Which of you feel that breed of excitement?
A frozen moment in time, caught at Oakey Woods Wildlife Management Area. Mike and I were working the trails, hot, dry trails through Oakey Woods, he focused on flora, I scoping for butterflies.
This patch of thistle showed up, and we paused there, anticipating the traffic you see in this region, at Krogers or Publix. Sure enough butterflies came in and left. This Giant Swallowtail flew in, and, as they do, nectared furiously on the thistle flowerhead. I split my time well, spellbound and again determined to get this compelling scene on film. Appraisal? Like the thistle here, and like the Giant, wings nicely played with translucent sunlight and that left eye.
In Kathleen, Georgia, 738 miles from my Pittsburgh home, with a butterfly that I have seen twice in 27 years. Pleased to be in tow with Mike, a very committed, very serious botanist, who enabled, with great patience, my dilly dallying, each and every time I stopped to see unusual butterflies.
I am enjoying these experiences more and more often this last few years. Making trails with top naturalists, some birders, some orchid enthusiasts, and others botanists. Way too much fun!
With much pleasure, I finally, invite you to enjoy my extraordinary and exciting! interaction with fresh, exquisite Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies. We encountered this pair in August 2016, they coupled together, me stunned by their beauty. We were all at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, in Eatonton, Georgia.
By the end of this saga, I was adorned with an earring unequaled in beauty, beyond the ability of the workshops of Tiffanys, Cartier’s, David Webb and all the rest.
Sylbie Yon was there, at the right time, in the right place. The 6 featured images were captured by her. The Eastern Black Swallowtails and I will always be thankful for Sylbie’s images.
To view them, see the top of this wingedbeauty window, and click on ‘Jeff’s Earrings’ – Part 1 . . . after reading and viewing, go above once again and click on ‘Jeff’s Earrings – Part 2 . . . and then click on ‘Jeff’s Earrings’ – Part 3.
This sweet series was zippity-doodah! for Sylbie and for me. How I hope that you will provide us with feedback. Tell us what other wild butterfly earring experiences you’ve seen . . . .
With our recent focus on Zebras, Zebra heliconian butterflies, I’ve included Zebra swallowtail butterflies, but did not share images of those zebras. Let’s remedy that here.
At a small sandy beach at Mason Neck State Park in Virginia, on the shore of magnificent Chesepeake Bay, was where I happened onto this! Zebra Swallowtail butterflies, motionless and locked together in embrace. They were both very shmeksy! Zebras, with reds, blues, that hard to describe whitish-yellow and black framing all. Not ever seen such a coupled pair since.
Funny this. After spending 13 or so summers as a boy with my Grandparents, the Polisars in their very sweet little bungalow just one block from the beach at Beach 65th Street, Arverne, Queens, New York (AKA Rockaway Beach), the beach etiquette was unwritten but universal, leave couples locked in embrace alone. Steer the widest berth, and move on. The world was complicated then too, and I guess time away from life’s ying & yangs was understood.
This pair of Eurytides marcellus remained this way for more than ½ an hour, barely moving at all. The memory of Splendor on the Beach when I was a kid, made me feel a mite sheepish about moving as close as I had to with my Canon 2.8/100mm lens. Truth be told.
Predators left them, vulnerable as they are here, alone, for those Paw Paws they consume earlier in life make them toxic to the mouth of any fool bird or insect or lizard that might have the opportunity. Amazing, No?