Zebra in the Bush

Zebra Heliconian butterfly on Tithonia I, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

Their flight is akin to ballet. Slow, with gentle floating movement, taking the Zebra Heliconioan up and down. Slow it may be, but the continuous change in altitude really challenges when you want coop an image.

We’ll soon see my images of an uncommon Erato Heliconian Butterly, seen in the the National Butterfly Center’s gardens in Mission, Texas. I was fortunate enough to watch that Erato fly away along a deep crevice in the Butterfly Center. It’s flight path was not like the Zebra’s. The Erato flew an almost projectile like line. That I will long remember, for those big, deep, bright red patches on each wing remained in clear view, throughout that more than 200′ path that it flew.

Back to the Zebra, met in the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat I, In Eatonton, Georgia. I sort of chased it from Tithonia bloom to Tithonia bloom. This time it stopped on one of those Mexican sunflower flowerheads, and I just decided, go for it, and share the reality of Zebras: You shoot what you can shoot, after you tire of trying to follow their at the Ballet progress. That’s what we have here. The reality of trying for a Zebra H. in the bush(es).

Jeff

Question Mark Butterfly at the Fruit Bar

Question Mark butterfly on Hanging basket, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

You stop there when you went to the old Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat. I can’t count how many times I did in these last years, 2015 and 2016 and 2017.

Virginia hung this metal basket, often replacing the desiccated fruit in it with fresh, bananas, apples, orange, watermelon and more. That basket was busy from 8 A.M. to just before dusk.

Weeks ago, in the National Butterfly Center (NBC) in Mission, Texas I once again saw baskets, strategically set about the NBC’s acreage. There too I saw another tool that lures butterflies, common and rare. The NBC staff has set out ‘bait logs’ onto which they paint a glomp of a mix of fruit, beer and more. On those bait logs we saw Mexican Bluewing, Tropical Leafwing and many other uncommon butterflies.

This Question Mark butterfly looked very important when I saw it in the Habitat’s fruit basket. Fresh, I was pleased to view this image when it was processed. The “question mark ‘?'” itself pops! Those blue marks along the trailing edge of the hindwing show nicely, the wing margins look handsome and those ants on the melon remind of all ants everywhere, focused and purposeful.

Fruit baskets and bait logs, I’ve got them on my own future to-do list, being desirious of hosting butterflies and other wildlife.

Jeff

The Culmination Butterfly

Zebra Heliconian butterfly on Tithonia II, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

Valentine’s Day is waning. A disgruntled student did the unthinkable in Florida and politics wash over our USA media by the hour. I’ve just opened the wingedbeauty.com Media Library. More than 800 images rest there. Many have been used, some of them several times. This one, seen last July 2017, called to me, like the puppy in the litter than catches your eye, and waddles over to capture your heart.

It hit me. This is a classic Culmination butterfly, surrounded by culmination growth, Mexican sunflower plants in the Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I. I took this photo just months before Virginia and crew began unearthing most of the hundred of perennials, bushes and trees there and replanted them a mile+ away, in Habitat II. We are looking at a Zebra heliconian butterfly, enjoying a brunch of Tithonia nectar.

Why is this a Culmination butterfly? This is the product of the boy from the streets of Brooklyn, not so big, but good with his hands, who grew up in brick, concrete and asphalt, with crazies on the streets. The kid who never even saw the golden spoon. The one who went to college by New York subway and had to work after classes to eat. I carried long steel on those hundreds of subway rides through bad places. I hitched with Reed from Binghamton, NY to Miami, Florida in 1962, and nearly got killed about 20 times in the 1962 Deep South. Joined the NYARNG, was a cannoneer on 155mm towed, completed OCS, married beyond my dreams and had 4 children. I left teaching after they refused to promote me and did better than good in NYNY real estate. I was betrayed by “partners,” but did not do to them what my now well connected childhood friends did to those who . . .  I sent kids to Wash U and to the Ivies and then relocated to Pittsburgh. I returned to teaching HS Biology, to rough, tough street kids. I watched Frieda A”H fight and lose to Cancer/Leukemia. Celebrated the birth of grandchildren, even one named for Frieda. Did what Frieda always told me to: work hard and do what you enjoy. I Continue to pray daily . . .

Yep, what you see here is the Culmination butterfly. Take the tale above, multiply it by some healthy multiple, and I am sure then, then you can begin to appreciate how much I enjoy photographing butterflies in Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Canada, Israel, Vancouver Island (?), Sri Lanka (?) and ???? Thank Y-u.

Jeff

2017: Can We Call it the Year of the Zebra?

Zebra Heliconian butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

Facebook was electrified with reports coming from all over Georgia (USA). Zebra Heliconian butterflies! She was born in Georgia, spent her whole life on her family’s land. Now she grows her own gardens. One day, a day in 2017; there she saw something she had not seen in 62 years!! A Zebra Heliconian butterfly, sleek, flying as if they were dancing in the ballet. She was speechless! It was an exhilarating experience, for that kind of unexpected visitor knocks the ho-hum doldrums out of the park!

Joy spread across the state. Everyone quickly boned up on Zebra Heliconians. They certainly arrived from very southern Georgia and Florida. Their hostplants are native passionflowers. They prefer to not venture too far from a nearby wooded edge.

Heliconius charithonia in Georgia again in 2018? A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America(Glassberg, Second Edition, Princeton Press) shares that they “may become established northward during warm weather, then killed off by freezes.”

This photograph was taken in the Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia. It was the month of July 2017. You’re looking at Zebra Heliconian on a robust Tithonia(Mexican sunflower) flowerhead.

Just as nearly all of Georgia cheered for the UGA Bulldogs in the National Championship heartbreaker, surely finding Zebras here in 2018 will evoke countless Thank Y-u’s!!!

Jeff