Erato Heliconian Butterfly (National Butterfly Center)

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

This one sure has difficulty trying to hide in the near dark National Butterfly Center grass. Those bold, bright red stripes blare out at you. Makes you wonder why this rare butterfly, that occasionally visits there, wonder why it has those red stripes.

When it did finally fly, it flew down the trail, some nearly 150 feet, always in sight and it followed a straight-line path, some 4 feet above the ground. I watched, transfixed, for I saw something that intrigued me. During that straight-line flight, those red stripes were always visible, they actually were always easily seen.

My hypothesis? This butterfly must be toxic to predators that would prey on it. Those red stripes may signal habitat predators that this butterfly is toxic (poisonous), and should not be captured.

Do you concur with this opinion?


2021 For Goatweeds?

Tropical Leafwing Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TXTropical leafwing butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Yep, these are Tropical Leafwing Butterflies, and I was thrilled to meet them at the National Butterfly Center. I always appreciate such times, and usually Thank G-d that I’m among the 1 in 500,000 Americans who have been blessed to see an uncommon butterfly. When the Tropical on the right opened its wings, and those Richly Orange hued upper wings produce big smiles, they do!

We’re viewing Tropicals because of something I’ve remembered. These 26 or so years of photographing butterflies have allowed me to meet another Leafwing no more than 3 times. I’ve seen Goatweed Leafwing butterflies in Mississippi and in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. Each time it was early in the morning, and each time I was so Shocked! to happen onto a Goatweed, they resting on tree trunks, that I forgot (?) to start shooting, and instead gaped/gazed at those shy, elusive, fighter-jet quick Leafwings.

More, I cannot remember seeing anyone post a Goatweed Leafwing on Facebook, Word Press or anywhere else in the last 12 months. In the last 24 months!

So, next year, G-d Willing, I ask y’all to let me know if you have a reliable habitat where Goatweeds can be regularly seen? I’m no longer a NABA member, so I cannot poll that closed group for this, but I can hope that y’all can give me feedback. I lack a single Goatweed Leafwing image, and I want one. Seriously.


Why Travel To See A Texan Crescent Butterfly?

Texan crescent butterfly (male) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

That visit? Amazing! Nancy, John and I travelled from Georgia to the National Butterfly Center (NBC) in Mission, Texas. Standing there, just a mile or two from the border with Mexico? A never to be forgotten experience. I loved it. It was my first visit to the NBC. I was in a benign kind of shock. There we were, Christmas week, with temperatures sometimes in the low 90’s, and butterflies new to me there, and there, and almost . . . everywhere.

Yes I’ve seen much in my life, and travelled some. How many butterflies seen? Who knows? 200,000? This Texan Crescent, the Red Rim, that Erato Heliconian, the Mexican Bluewing, plus the Julia Heliconian, Fatal Metalmark, adds to those the Tropical Leafwing, a gorgeous Common Mestra . . . all the way to the world’s most beautiful Malachite butterfly and many Skipper butterflies new to me. I was in a state of euphoria not often enjoyed.

Back home, my family never opens these 900+ posts, friends don’t either and my last home, with its 2-year old 303 Garden, that was often a crowded freeway of butterflies, it never had a single person request to have a look at it. That I’m a seasoned guy now, helps, for I accept. Accept much. Nearly all possess no interest in all of this, are hardened to their milieu, their daily life spaces. Getting down to it, I sent kids to some of the USA’s ‘top’ schools, and now, they never visit here?

Why travel to see a Texan Crescent? This Texan Crescent? If you’re here, right here, I applaud you, and a gold star should definitely be issue/awarded to you, for you are 1) an Esthete and 2) one way or another appreciate the infinite beauty G-d has created.


White Peacock Butterfly (LRGV)

White Peacock Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Never saw one in western Pennsylvania during my 27 years of living there. Glassberg has them as R-U (Rare to Uncommon) in the northeastern USA. I’ve seen White Peacocks in Savannah Natonal Wildlife Refuge along the Georgia-South Carolina coastline and in Mississippi near the Delta. They’re the kind of butterfly species that just don’t excite most folks when they find one. I wonder why finding a White Peacock does not shoot up the blood pressure?

This fine White Peacock was seen in south Texas, at the perrenial gardens of the National Butterfly Center. I’ve waited this long to share this image with y’all, for fear that once again it would just not generate heavy traffic here. I’ll soon see if I was correct.

How many White Peacock fans are there?


What Happens Upon Seeing A Tropical Leafwing?

Tropical leafwing butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

This stuff intrigues me. I remember thinking such for more than a decade, when I worked in Manhattan, New York. A realtor, I was much freer than most, and could leave our office as I wished. As I walked the sidewalks of New York, New York, amidst thousands of people, I’d always wonder about them. Who were they? Who were their parents, and what life experiences contributed to who they were? Always I tried to imagine what they know of the world that I loved, but had little time to visit. That’d be the undeveloped, wild, sylvan world of the undespoiled outdoors.

Now, near a lifetime later, I review our wingedbeauty media library, and images like this one, a fresh, shy Tropical Leafwing butterfly catch my eye. We were at the wooded area in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, and I knew, I knew I was seeing a butterfly that was so very different from those tens of thousands I’d seen before.

Seeing so many butterflies, has broadened my mind, my perspective. My brain has now placed tens of thousands of butterfly images in my brain ‘cubbyholes.’ Add to that the wildflowers, orchids, moths, bees, wasps, ants, beetles, dragonflies, spiders, lizards, snakes, turtles, . . . should have placed birds well before this here . . . how much is stored upstairs in Jeff Zablow?

Sometime soon I will have spent 30 years seeking and locating butterflies and their world. What happens to you and I when we have so rich a trove of cerebral images and experiences?? This puzzle for me intensified recently when Barbara Ann (OBM”) passed away. Her knowledge of orchids was phenomenal and her field experiences and love of orchids and botany, gone. Gone. No one stepped in to become her student/intern/chronicler.

These mysteries? What of them?