I often puzzle over why I remember somethings going back to those lazy, crazy days on the Brooklyn streets. Why do I remember a certain game of punchball, played with maybe 20 kids playing and watching, including Julie Locke, who still stops by here time and again. There were what? hundreds of games of punchball (played by hitting a Pennsy Pinky ball with your fist and running the bases as in baseball), yet I remember one of them?
I remember this guy well. We were at Cloudland Canyon State Park in northwestern Georgia. We found the power line cut that Phil suggested we visit, and yes the Liatris was in full bloom. This male flew in and he stayed there methodically working one Liatris flower spike after another.
He was large, and he was fresh and he was very handsome.
We both shot him out, he fully accommodating our close approach, hardly fleeing. A fine day, and a Shmeksy! Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, reminding us that G-d’s finery is with us.
The Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) achieved enormous growth there in the Briar Patch. Virginia’s tiny seeds produced 8 foot tall Tithonia. She’d tell you that yes, they were not native to Georgia, but, they were strong, robust sunflowers, easily tolerate the Piedmont’s long bone-dry summers, self-seeded and nourished legions of butterflies, year after year.
I’ve planted Mexican Sunflower here in my own Eatonton garden, and their vigorous growth and absence of pests enables them to provide nurture for butterflies from June to November. For the price of a packet of seeds, you get Tithonia that neatly fills whole corners of your sunny garden spots and summons squadrons of swallowtails, brush foot butterflies, hairstreaks and many skipper species.
I suppose that they must also make fine cut flowers for your home vases, and if grown in your front garden beds, they’ll have your neighbors asking, “What is that gorgeous big flowering plant you’re growing there?”
This Eastern Black Swallowtail is fully involved, methodically working this Tithonia flowerhead. His golden yellow flashes, blue patches and shot of red/red, against black wings and black body handsomely fitted with white spots, works nicely here with the developing Tithonia bud and sweet Tithonia flower, all set in a clump of Tithonia, that blocking the sunlight that brightens the rest of the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat.
The richness of plants and butterfly here is real and as with all we share, the color of it all, real-time.
That morning in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia.
Me? I gaze at this and the several other image captures I scored of this pair of Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterflies and my mind is awash in thought.
She is facing you, and he is below her.
Does this picture evoke thoughts, for you? Be so kind as to share them?
I managed to get there early, very early. The road to Raccoon Creek State Park, that 36.8 miles drive, took me through downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, through the Ft. Pitt Tunnel, and then through miles of what’s known as “Parkway West 376.” That morning I sailed through the entire route, with hardly any need to slow down or come to a total stop.
Parked my Tundra truck at the Rte. 168 entrance to the state park, and hiked Nichol Road trail, my favorite stretch of park. It was still not 8:30 A.M., and I’d already seen male Eastern Tiger Swallowtails flying at full speed along the trail. It’s been decades since I began photographing butterflies, and time has taught me that most male butterflies are not worthy of the time it takes to approach them, and then chase after them. What’s their rush? They spend 95% of their time flying fast, searching for receptive females. It’s a fool’s errand to chase after them, hoping in vain that they might stop for a moment to rest.
Then there she was! Resting as females do, she on a natives plant, just 3 feet or so above the trail margin. She was spectacular. She was in no rush to leave that perch. I prefer photographing female butterflies. They are often gorgeous and they dislike wasting time and energy, flying desperately here and there, as those males do.
At this point in my work, spotting a fresh, undamaged female butterfly is cause for a smile. They often agree to pose, are less likely to bolt, and their rich beauty means I might score a wonderful image.
A winged beauty, willing to model for you and me.
You’re out seeking butterflies, and one of you shouts, “Zebra Swallowtail!” All stop what they were doing and respond, “Where?” Comes the question, Why? Why do seasoned butterfly seekers and those new to the search, become so excited when a Zebra is spotted?
They are scarce, rarely seen butterflies. They fly in with grace and beauty and they are surely coming to flowers that are pumping nectar. During this 2019 a typical day might score 2 Monarchs, 3 Pearl Crescents, 1 Pipevine Swallowtail, several Duskywings, an Eastern Comma, 4 Tiger Swallowtails and 1 Red-Spotted Purple. Zebra Swallowtail on that ‘typical day?’ No, not a one.
Rewarded with a look at such a beaut as this one, resplendent in its whites, black, red and blue, you feel special, fortunate to see what few see, a magnificent American butterfly, one of our most eye-pleasing.
This one was shot in Lynx Prairie Reserve, Adams County, Ohio. It’s on Butterflyweed, a milkweed, native to the USA. Also enjoying the milkweed nectar there is an Edwards Hairstreak butterfly, it too is a reason to feel good. Seeing both of these uncommon butterflies, reason enough to travel to Lynx Prairie in late June.