Why Didn’t Our Monarch Make His Home In Alabama?

Monarch butterfly (male, full dorsal)1, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

He arrived in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, exhausted, but zero bird-struck.He reminds of a man in his early ’50’s, buff, handsome but no longer a 30-ish strongman.

Presuming that he stayed here in Eatonton, Georgia, to spend time with the butterfly whiz, Virginia C Linch, at this butterfly oasis, that in itself raises questions.

When he flew from Texas to Louisiana, why didn’t he remain there, for the weeks that he had to enjoy?

When he left Louisiana, and flew to Yazoo, why didn’t he stay there, in their wonderful National Wildlife Refuge? I was there once, and like it much.

The Delta didn’t do it for our Monarch, then how could he not fall in love with his next stop, Alabama?

Why’d he leave Alabama and fly those hundreds of miles to Virginia’s Briar Patch Habitat?

Did he leave Eatonton and fly to Marcie’s Summerville, South Carolina?

I’m guessing that he lived out the rest of his days here, in the Briar Patch habitat

You’re urged to explain all of this to us, to me.

Jeff

 

Singing Auld Lang Syne

Striped hairstreak butterfly photographed at Powdermill Refuge, PA

Here’s one I’ve not seen for more than 20 years. We met in the butterfly garden at the Powdermill refuge in Rector, Pennsylvania. This field station of the Pittsburgh Museum of Natural History, established for the study and conservation of birds, was just 1 hour and 25 minutes from my home in Pittsburgh.

These sylvan 2,000+ acres were home to a host of threatened species, including that Eastern Timber Rattlesnake that I met up with there. It was under a tree, in the shade, that 90F+ morning. I see it there, and now when I look back these years later, Frieda A”H was right (again). How did I get those closeup images of the rattler, when I should have know the risk that a father of 4, and husband, works to get closer and closer and closer to . . . ?

This “R-U” rare to uncommon (Glassberg, A Swift Guide to Butterflies) hairstreak was doing what most hairstreaks do, resting on a leaf, being very territorial, when I spotted it. It didn’t take more than a nanosecond for me to realize that this was a new one for me, and I shot away. As Stripeds do, it met my slow, robotic movement with no alarm, and I shot away. What a stunning butterfly!

Its been decades since, and I’ve not met another . . . I think. Their range is said to be Maine to northern Florida, the Atlantic coast to west of the Dakotas, but rare, Oh so rare.

Jeff

Do Butterflies Commute?

Today’s special visitor was a very big Black Form Female Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. We posted some pics on Facebook. I commented that there’s a good chance that she came from Virginia’s Briar Patch Habitat, just one miles from our natives garden. Came to partake of our Bottlebrush Buckeye bush, now in splendid full bloom. It may well be that the super fresh Giant Swallowtail also flew to us from the Briar Patch.

Virginia C Linch posted a Comment to my Facebook post, and it got me to thinking.

If butterflies are especially attuned to aromatic emissions from active flowers, what is the working range that their sensory organs can effectively track? In other words, did our 2 extraordinary butterflies follow aromatics from our 303 Garden to the vicinity of the Briar Patch Garden? Is that how they came to visit us, following a trail of aromatic hydrocarbons?? Curt, Phil, Virginia, Ken, Bob, NABA friends, Holli, Rose, Nancy & John, Dave, Dave W, Bill, Deepthi?

The accompanying photo? Me at the Habitat, working to score a Skipper image.

Jeff

Pyle, Berthet, Lawson, Childs . . . and Zablow?

Edwards Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

Over these decades, every so often, the Media announces the discovery (!^!!#**!) of a heretofore unknown animal. Like you I drop what I’m about to do online, and quickly open the news dispatch, to read of the new OMG! mammal, reptile, fish. I’ve given up on Sasquatch, that Loch Ness thing, the Dodo bird and especially sadly, the Ivory Billed Woodpecker. We’ve way too much populated Earth, and there’s not much territory that has not be trekked over. The African Veldt of my youth is now full of people, full of guides to show you whatever you want, and it seems has been compartmentalized into people place and game reserves.

The loss of the Ivory Billed bit! I took it personally. How could we/they not protect their huge, dense forest stands?

Butterflies? There are some who seek little explored, dense pristine habitat to find rare and they dream, undiscovered butterflies. Pyle’s Big Year, wonderfully described in his book Mariposa Road, Berhtet’s recent explorations, Ian Lawson’s wide travels as well as Child’s, often cause me to question my own reluctance to hit the road, by the hundreds and thousands of miles?

Just recently, I came to a resolution. I will resist the siren’s song of the road, and the airport terminals that I so dislike. One more airport men’s room and I will lose it. One more full body frisk, with me struggling to keep my served my country, OCS completion, ready to go riot control platoon leader in Brooklyn in the late ’60’s, with mouth SHUT.

I will make few long journeys, with the exception of searching the Negev, Galilee & Golan regions of the HolyLand (Israel). I will get my VAVAVAVOOM with the butterflies of our beautiful USA and Canada. No way I’m going to be kidnapped by Shining Path or whatever. That too, that the $$’s lecture.

This Edward’s Hairstreak was one of a fresh flight of 50 or more that marked my first Edward’s ever!!!  Lynx Prairie Reserve, Adams County, Ohio. That was bonkers! exciting, and was just a 6-hours drive from Pittsburgh. Newly discovered butterflies may well exist, but I’m not to travel deep into Cuba or enjoy the unexpected company of latter-day headhunters in Borneo.

Anyone who wants to chat about trips in 2020, I’m all ears. No Uzbekistan. No Honduras. No Mongolia. No Myanmar. Please.

Jeff

American Icons?

Great Spangle Fritillary Butterfly on Coneflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

I think so. When I first visited Adams County, Ohio, Lynx Prairie Reserve treated me to my first wild Coneflower. To that point, a rich lifetime, I had presumed that coneflowers were non-native cultivars. How thrilled I was that morning, to learn that they are 100% American!

Perched on this coneflower, this Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly is another American icon. Glassberg’s Swift Guide to Butterflies has them present in almost all continental US states, except for Arizona, Texas, Mississippi and Florida. This big butterfly is born & bred USA.

This then is an American iconic view, Great Spangled Fritillary perched on Coneflower. I must add that Ohio, where these were seen, has been the most welcoming, giving, sharing of the 48 U.S. states, for I’ve enjoyed more self-less butterfliers and orchid seeking and wildflower lovers there than in any other state I’ve visited. Thanks Angela, Deb, Dave, Flower, Joe and others.

Jeff