Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Happening Right Now! In Your Neighborhood (Honest)!

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar at Raccoon Creek State Park

Our Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar(larva) is passing this August 17th morning slowly and methodically eating the leaves of Queen Anne’s Lace and other members of the carrot family.

This behavior began when the sun’s morning rays began to warm-up this wildflower bed, just at the edge of a regularly cut roadside. This caterpillar followed standard behavior, eating for 1.5 hours, and then moving down toward the ground and out of sight for the remainder of the hot day.

Bedecked in greens, yellows and black, you have to wonder why this chubby, presumably tasty morsel can remain in full sight of so many potential predators, and yet remain unbothered? Though the adult butterfly is thought to be a mimic of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, their larva look totally different from one another. Then, too, adult Papilio Polyxenes usually have intact wings. No bit and pieces missing from predator attacks. So how…

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Wood Nymph Butterfly (Clay Pond)

Common Wood Nymph Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Clay Pond, NY

Clay Pond in very western New York state features acres of grass wetland. That day in 2016 there was a sizable flight of butterflies. I was seeing Wood nymphs, wetland Skippers, Satyrs, a Viceroy here and there, a Monarch or two and more.

My eyes were mostly searching for Wood Nymphs. Why? Ever since that day some years ago at Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania, I have been on the lookout for Wood Nymphs with attractive forewing ‘eyes.’

This one here was hiding in 4 foot grass. Once I made a successful approach, I liked what I saw, a lot. This Wood Nymph has scrumptious! ‘eyes,’ they encircled by rich orangeish borders, and those eyes have the bluish centers, something that I have always enjoyed finding.

One of my most sought after butterfly patterns, ‘eyes’ on a Wood Nymph that bring a smile to a Butterfly guy.

Jeff

Nordmannia Myrtale ( Mt. Hermon )

Nordmannia Myrtale butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

I take great pleasure from this photo. I hired a guide, we drove up to the Golan ( Israel ) and I kept my wits about me as we took the lift up, 7,000 feet, to the peak of Mt.Hermon. Managing my reluctance to scale heights wasn’t a picnic, but I did it.

The peak of this giant mountain, at the northeastern reaches of Israel, was not what I expected. The peak was enormous, and somewhat flat. The temperature reached the mid-90’s that June day. Eran toted many liters of water. We saw butterflies, many species of very rare butterflies. Eran spotted that very evil looking land mine, and during the later half of the day up there, I stayed mostly on those ancient trails that cross here and there.

The view of Syria, down the north face of the mountain, was picturesque and serene. Today? Down there today, Syria, is rated the Most Violent place in the world today.

This tiny Lycaenidae butterfly, Nordmannia myrtale is Protected, a very rare butterfly that few have ever seen. I saw it, and that pleases me, Truth be told.

Jeff

Tracking Erato Heliconians

Erato Heliconian Butterfly on Grass photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Our “Rare” Erato Heliconian Butterfly remained in that vicinity for some time. There were just a few of us that caught a glimpse of it in the National Butterfly Center’s Mission, Texas reserve. It riveted the gaze, for those red, broad streaks were red-beyond-red.

Each time it flew, it flew to a new perch, never much more than 15 feet from where it had rested before.

Some time later, the gawkers left to find other Wow! butterflies. I too left, and soon returned. I descended down into that crevice-like trail. When I came within 10 feet of the Erato, it flew. I eagle-eyed that flight, wondering all along . . . how many here in the U.S.have ever seen the Erato’s flight manner?

The Erato flew away on that trail, a straight trail that did not meander left or right. It flew some 4 feet or so above the ground, in a perfectly straight trajectory. No dips, no dives, no meander left or right. I’m thinking that whole time, that the numerous predators around, bird, reptile, insect, mammal . . . ? would have no difficulty snatching this Erato out of the air.

That was when it struck me? Throughout the 100 feet or so of observed flight, those shocking-red streaks remained in sight. The red was visible 100% of the time.

What did I think? That totally visible, bright red must serve as a bold, critical, cryptic warning to any and all: I am toxic, very toxic, and remember what your mother taught you or bide the genetic warning bells your’re hearing . . . for I might just give you a mouthful of hurt!

Like I said before, I could’ve used such a jacket, cape or shirt when I was a kid on those Brooklyn streets: You don’t want to even try it . . . !

Jeff