She’s The Sweetest Little Rosebud, That Texas Ever Knew . . .

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

We saw quite a few of them in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. They fly low, and perch often. They were my first Texan Crescents. I took a liking to them.

I wanted to capture and share their rich coloration. This Texan female pretty much fits the bill.

Some say that are occasional migrants to my middle Georgia, though in these 4 years of visiting the Georgia Piedmont, I’ve never seen one.

It’s in my thinking to return to the Lower Rio Grande Valley late in 2019. I know where to stay, I’d rent a car, but I know of no one who will aid me in finding the hotspots there: Falcon Heights, Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge, Edinburg Wetlands or Boca China/Rd 4?

Oh I cried so when I left her that it nearly broke my heart, and if I ever find her we never . . . .

Jeff

The Eyes of Texas

Erato heliconian butterfly (Dorsal view) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

It’ s 42 degrees F here in the Georgia Piedmont region (central Georgia). Linda and Debra and others have been posting exciting images of butterflies they saw in the Lower Rio Grande Valley these last few days. Oh, how that brought back memories of my trip to the National Butterfly Center and the “Butterfly Wall” in late December 2017!

I’ve posted some dozens of those images here, and this one remains a favorite. The very rare, and very exciting! Erato Heliconian butterfly, seen at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas.

We saw it in a heavily wooded area, and I followed it as it lazily moved from one place to another. Jet black with with screaming! red flashes and the equally loud! yellow stripes. 

I returned some minutes later, and it was still in the same shaded area. I shot away, and then, it flew, along a narrow poorly lit trail.

I was treated to a revelation! As it flew straight ahead on that trail, a straight run of some 200 feet or so, unrushed, those red flashes were constantly in view, not seen and hidden, but the blasting red color never disappeared from view.

The Biology major in me concluded that this Erato heliconian must be toxic to the taste buds of any predator, and that uninterrupted double red surely warns, ‘Stay Away, Or You Will Regret It.’

Texans have much to be Thankful for, butterflies for one, Joanne.

Jeff

Where Have You Been All My Life?

Malachite butterfly (facing right) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Count just 10 months ago, and I was here, right where you see this ephemeral Malachite butterfly. Too bad you were not there with us. You would have seen this almost child-like smile on my face, when they quietly beckoned me, ‘Come Jeff, you’ve got to see this!’

Our Malachite was a singleton, resting peacefully in the dimly lit corridor, bordered by tall, thick bush. The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, some 2 miles or so from the Mexican border. it remained there for some half hour or so, changing its leaf lounge 2 times, each time resuming its unhurried rest.

Described as “Uncommon,” I knew right then that this was something Special, coming along at this point in my journey. Hey, Look at Me! Meeting the hidden Gems of H-s work, nicely beyond the middle of life.

This repeat of ‘Where Have You Been All My Life’ has included our Malachite, that Erato Heliconian, a bunch of Metalmarks, the famed Gemmed Satyr, Red Rim, Common Mestra, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell, Georgia Satyr, Eastern Pygmy Blue, Regal Fritillary, Zebra Heliconian and more, much more (Leonard’s Skipper for one).

Just can’t find enough gigs to share my work/enthusiasm. When young people are in the room, I urge them to consider studying butterflies as career, university teaching, and I suggest, find a rare, little known butterfly and embrace it, know it, and kind of own it. Make yourself, I tell them, The expert on that beautiful mysterious butterfly, and you may well be traveling the world, sharing of it, and that will be on their ‘dime’ and more will invite you to come and talk and hot-wire their people and . . .

Meeting the real celebrities, not the plastic ones of Hollywood, TV, sports or politics, now, and I hope in the coming years, whispering “Where Have You Been All My Life?” again and . . .

Jeff

What Do You Most Want Too See?

Malachite butterfly (4) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

This was the last week of 2018. We flew to San Antonio and drove the rental car to McAllen, Texas. Why? We went to find and photograph rare butterflies of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Texas. Butterflies that you would never see in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, Ohio or Virginia.

This was at the National Butterfly Center, in Mission Texas. Bingo! This Malachite butterfly, that Erato Heliconian (!!!), the Red Rim butterfly, Mexican Bluewing, Tropical Leafwing, the list of new and rare to Very Rare was long, and exciting. So much new, so little same old, same old.

We recently raised the question, do you think that we should travel long and far, or should we avoid those airport terminals, crowds, TSA looking at me (I served) as if I was a potential I don’t know what? The rental car that I treat better than my own (you let me use your car, I treat it like gold) and those many drives through places unfamiliar.

Comes now this question. What would you rather see, hard to score images of butterflies you’ve never seen before, even if those images are sometimes less than ideal OR photos of butterflies that you may have seen before, those well east of the Mississippi River, but photos that capture very fresh, very beautiful individuals?

Than comes the followup questions? Are you happy to see images of butterflies in the HolyLand? I’ve gone to Israel almost every year since 2008. Sometimes I’ve posted an image of a HolyLand butterfly that is really hard to get, only to find tepid feedback from y’all.

I sure hope you read this, and hope that you share.

Jeff

Your Feedback?

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

Friends asked me to join them and fly to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a handful of miles from Mexico. There were so many reasons to leave my ‘comfort zone’ and once again see Texas. My friends were A+ butterfly scouters, the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas regularly astounds, with butterflies so rare that they create near riots when they are seen and y’all deliver heavier traffic on wingedbeauty when I share the rare, the beautiful and exciting tales (true) and adventures.

I ponied up the money ($ignificant) and Delta flew us to San Antonio, followed by that 4-hour drive down to the southern tip of Texas.

Here’s part of the Jackpot! A very rare, very mysterious and Very Beautiful Erato Heliconian butterfly. Just as exciting was the Red Rim, that Malachite, the elusive but gorgeous maestro, Pavon Emperor, Tropical Leafwing, Tropical Greenstreak, Julia Heliconian and . . . lots more butterflies, all new to me.

Now, with Fall ’18 here, I’m scouring field guides and wondering? 2019 beckons, loudly. Do I again sit in airports (I shoot film, so I must always consider that the necessary ‘Hand check’ of my film might cause a 1/2 hour of more delay, when an overzealous TSA agent methodically inspects my Fuji film cartridges)? Endure airport terminals, which I am not in love with. $pend the money for air fare, car rental, Airbnb/VRBO living quarters, drive where I’ve never been, and most vexing, find good Habitat with no one to lead me?

The alternative? Travel to nearby states, in my own F150, with Petra riding shotgun? Do Florida, Tennessee, South Caroline and the Okefenokee Swamp? No flying, no airfare, no TSA.

So may I have your feedback, what think you? Fly to Montana, or the Chiricuaha mountains in southeast Arizona or search the Florida Panhandle, Kissimmee Prairie or that Okefenokee Swamp of all swamps?

Jeff