MIA? Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies?

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

I’ll reluctantly join the growing chorus? Where are our beloved Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies? Many, most or all of you have shared that they are absent. So many of us proudly share that our perennial gardens are now in full bloom, rich with nectar producing flowers. Flowers that normally draw these large, colorful swallowtails.

At this time year after year we enjoyed seeing shots of Tiger caterpillars, chrysalises and newly eclosed male and female Tigers.

My own garden is beginning its 3rd full year, and the Tithonia (Mexican Sunflowers) are reaching 4′-5′ and opening flower. Our 3 species of Hibiscus are busters, our giant Zinnias hale, day lilies still spending new flowers,  Black-Eyed Susans strong, Obedient Plant throwing out hundreds of flowers, Cardinal Flower the deepest of red blooms, Coneflower by the dozens of blooms, Cosmos many and I’ve only seen a single Tiger Swallowtail, back in April 2019.

They’re always our dependables, like Commas on trails, Carolina Satyrs in Southern perennial beds, Silver Spotted Skippers at trails edge where wildflowers abound.

Stalwarts, myself included, expect to see them any day now, what with fennel, dill, black cherry, plum and chokecherry all present and accounted for.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail female at Raccoon Creek State Park, 42 minutes west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and 8 hours west of Times Square in New York City.

Jeff

Eastern Tiger Reminisce

Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Cloudland Canyon State Park, GA

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.

Jeff

My Birthday Butterfly

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

My Fuji slide film (Velvia 50)? I love it, even as its price continues to climb. My eyes are so attended to the hundreds of hours that I spend in the bush. When I get my images back from Parsons, Kansas, the rich color pleases me, for it is 100% true to the real-time butterflies that I see.

Yes, tomorrow is my birthday, and it will be a quiet one. On the eve of B-day, I’ve decided to share an image taken in the HolyLand, at Mishmarot, Israel, north of Tel Aviv and 15 minutes from Caeseria, and the Mediterranean Sea.

This Plain Tiger butterfly (Danaus chrysippus chrysippus) is closely related to North America’s Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). This Israeli one is much more difficult to approach than our Monarch. Scoring the image was not easy, and closer approach was not to happen.

I often wonder how you entertain my frequent sharing of HolyLand butterflies? Me? I think of Who? and How? Th-y saw them back then, and truth be told, I am moved by that. But with my Birthday hours away, I am going to hope that . . .

Jeff

Thousands of Danaus

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Panning through our Media Library of images (those that stayed while the other 45,000 or so were culled), I stopped several times, to reminisce. Those of you who have been traveling with us for years now, remember this one.

You who joined our adventures more recently, quickly know that it’s a Danaus. But which one, where?

We stopped here, mostly because last week I saw no fewer than several thousand milkweed Danaus butterflies in the Rio Grand Valley, in Mission, Texas. The numbers were staggering. Thousands of Queens, dozens of Soldiers and a handful of Monarchs. It was extraordinary, seeing big beautiful Danaus, 3 species no less, in the last week of December. The boy from Brooklyn was blown away by the thought! butterflies at Christmas time, and in huge numbers.

This one seen here is the Plain Tiger butterfly, in Mishmarot, Israel. Probably also seen in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, but that I will never be able to personally confirm. Nor do I wish to see you travel there, for the risks are as real as the risks were back when I was a kid.

What can you say when you admire a fresh Danaus?

Jeff

That Danaus Look

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Danaus plexippus won’t disappoint us. We know they won’t. As I’m writing, they are flying north, now hundreds of miles distant from their winter perches in fir trees in central Mexico. Virginia can expect to see them before I do. Barbara Ann, hours north of me, may well  see them before I do. Miriam may see these Monarchs first, but my turn will patiently come.

What do the statisticians report? That 94.81% of Americans love Monarch butterflies, and will stop what they are doing to marvel at one. The results are not yet available for Europeans, Canadians, Asians, Africans, Central and South Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, and the French (because they are in the News today).

This instant Danaus, nectaring on a Middle Eastern thistle flower, almost instantly identifies as a Monarch relative. Like our other U.S. Danaus butterflies, the Queen and the Soldier, this Plain Tiger butterfly (D. chrysippus) is large, bright orange with broad black borders flecked with prominent white dots, and black veins. Head and abdomen are striking, with sizable white dots set on a stark black background. Hostplant? Israeli milkweeds.

Monarchs will tolerate my approach when they are nectaring, but not when they are resting, or sunning on a flat leaf in the pre-9 A.M. hours. Plain Tigers? No approach is tolerated. I see a beaut!, decide that a shot from ground level would produce a Wow! . . . approach, s-l-o-w-l-y get down on my belly, do that basic training crawl to get closer, s-l-o-w-l-y raise my Macro-lens . . . Gone! Sped away, full throttle! Time and time again.

Know then that this, and several other looks at D. chrysippus, give much much satisfaction. Yes.

Jeff