Skipper Butterfly at Eastern Neck

Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in  Eastern Neck National Wildlife refuge, MD

True Confession? Many of the Skipper Butterflies are so similar, that even now, their identity eludes me. Take this one for example. I found it at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. This Refuge is very close to Chesapeake Bay, and its flora and fauna are vibrant and robust. It’s a bit more than an hour’s drive from Washington DC.

So, after working through Glassberg’s Swift Guide to Butterflies, I offer that this one is a . . . Broad-winged Skipper, perhaps the only one I’ve ever seen. It was a bit large for a Skipper and was found near their preferred habitat, tidal marshes.

Skipper Aficinados?



Dialing Up A Skipper Maven?

Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in  Eastern Neck National Wildlife refuge, MD

Straight To The Point I will go. I was at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in the Delmarva peninsula of Maryland. This largish skipper was seen quietly resting, some 200 feet or so from the shore of the Chesepeake Bay. Here he (?) is. Skipper bedevil me. After spending much time with Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America, I continue to be stumped? What skipper is this? Crossline skipper?

Harry, Jeffrey, Mr. Pyle,  . . . the loneliness of the long distance runner is what we reveal here. Anyway, where did that line come from?

Will the heavyweights ever come out? I sure would like that . . .


Dogbane Exposed

Dogbane photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
Curt first introduced me to Dogbane during a butterfly count (NABA?) many years ago in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands. Dogbane is one of those ubiquitous wild flowering plants that just seem to always go unnoticed. That day Curt said that many butterflies rely heavily on the nectar produced by Dogbane. That information stuck in my head, and every season since, when I am in a field or meadow, I look for dogbane. I look for it because it is a destination for butterflies frustrated after having had little success locating milkweed or bergamot or the other wildflowers that share the same bloom times.

This Dogbane was growing strongly in Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the Delmarva peninsula in eastern Maryland. It’s about 90 feet from the shore of Chesapeake Bay. A great place to grow. We’re seeing it in May 2014. Dogbane blooms in June and July. At this time in August, the tiny flowers have been replaced by longish fruiting pods.

A wildflower that grows alongside the Asclepias milkweeds, and bergamots and thistles and other superstar nectar destinations, and does its part to make sure that all the butterflies, bees, moths and flies that just need a bit more sugary nectar . . . have just one more selection, if they so wish.


A Tree That Butterflies Love

American Holly tree photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD

Took a break mid-morning at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge ( Rock Hall, Maryland). May 2014. The Ranger’s house was smack in the middle of their best butterfly habitat. After so much looking down and looking straight ahead, this tree drew my attention, and I look up. What did I see?

This American Holly tree ( Ilex opaca ) had dozens of butterflies flying around it. The Red-spotted purples were numerous among them. Problem was that I don’t bring binoculars with me, so I couldn’t ID the dozens and dozens of smaller butterflies that were up there. This is a 60′ tall tree, so the species zipping about were left to my imagination. Bees and flies were uncountable, and wasps and other predators flew about, on their hunt for prey.

I have seen heavy action around Paw paw trees, and several trees further South, but I don’t remember ever seeing a tree that was so supportive of butterflies, as this one was.

The field guides all cite this tree as equally valuable in the late Fall and Winter, its berries placing it among the Best Trees to Attract Birds (Stokes Bird Gardening Book, Little, Brown and Company).

A native tree that supports wildlife of dozens and dozens of species. Nice. Didn’t need to bring it here. It was always here.