Those Huge Texas Monarchs

Monarch Butterflies Coupled photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

My recollection is that beginning with those empty lots in East Flatbush Brooklyn, they awaiting the inevitable construction of new homes, and continuing here in Georgia’s Piedmont region in 2019, I have seen some 2,867 Monarch butterflies. That includes Monarchs seen in New York state, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Arizona, Missouri and Oklahoma.

When I saw this coupled pair of Monarchs, he seen here with wings spread, in the Perennial Gardens of the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, these 2 Monarchs were the largest Monarchs I’d ever seen. She flew onto this Lantana plant first, and moments later he flew to her, with much force, and they joined bodies.

I stood there, wondering why these Texas Danaus Plexxipus individuals were so much larger than any I’d ever seen before??

Jeff

Light Deprived Amazing Photo

Ventral view of Erato Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

I cherish those occasional 1 in 5 million (1/5,000,000) moments when you are intent on finding and photographing rare butterflies. Not all, in fact many/most end in frustration.

This is such here. He’s an Erato Heliconian butterfly discovered in a heavily shaded glade in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. Images of the ventral side of an Erato are few, and I cringe a tad when I view this one. I don’t Photoshop my work, so this will remain as you see it. There are soooo few such, making this image, the result of a failed in the camera light meter, even more disappointing.

The flight from Atlanta to San Antonio, Texas, and the 4 hours drive to Alamo, Texas took some effort and expen$e. Missing this amazing opportunity? You tell me.

Jeff

Zebra Color, Really!

Zebra heliconian butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

There’s a goodly number of butterflies that thrill you when you spot them. This happens when they are especially fresh from their chrysalis (hard outer shell formed by the caterpillar), when they are handsome examples of their species, and when the day features crisp, clear air and sports a comfortable temperature.

Which rock me, Jeffrey? Monarchs, Viceroys, Gulfs, Red Admirals, Palametes Swallowtails, Malachites, Milbert’s Tortoiseshells, Giant Swallowtails, Goatweed Leafwings, Erato Heliconians, Silver-spotted Skippers, lots of others and . . . Zebra Heliconians.

Suzanne is correct, I shoot film, Macro-. Why? Because I’ve visited too many museums, art galleries, and top auction galleries to praise images that lack real-time-color. I prefer Fuji Velvia film, ASA 50, the same film used to capture this image.

I’m sitting here with the field guide most sought after now, and truth be told, this wingedbeauty image excites with the very same color that you marvel over when you find a fresh, fresh, fresh Zebra Heliconian butterfly in the field.

Where were we? The NBC (National Butterfly Center, Mission, Texas).

Jeff

What’s Our Huge Mission, Texas Monarch Doing?

Mating Monarchs on Milkweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Most of you are experienced butterfly photographers. Some of you are folks who have excellent taste and superior interests. All of you know what’s worthwhile.

This Monarch was met in the perennial flower beds of the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. We’re here less than 2 miles from the ever famous Mexican border. Command our male Monarch in English or Mexican Spanish? I’m not sure which he will prefer.

I ask you, what is extra special about this image? What is this male doing? Why is he doing this?

Jeff

Mobbing the ‘Wall’

People viewing Gold-Bordered hairstreak butterfly at “The Wall,” photographed by Jeff Zablow in Mission, TX

Sure, it’s been 25 years since I began searching for butterflies, in and about Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. 99% of the time I work by myself, and 99.673% of the time I had no one to point me to where to find the butterflies I sought.

I found them when I found them: Harvesters, Meadow Fritillaries, Compton Tortoiseshell, that Gulf Fritillary in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory, those 7 or 8 species of Hairstreaks, that Leonard’s Skipper and the gorgeous Milbert’s Tortoiseshell and that fresh Tawny Emperor.

My friends back a few years ago invited me to join them at Mission, Texas, on a trip to the National Butterfly Center!! That was a trip that I cannot ever forget. I met dozens (DozenS!!!) of new butterflies there, and at the ‘Wall.’ set in and around a lovely home development.

This is the scene there, when someone spotted a very rare butterfly, no doubt visiting from Mexico, Mexico just some 3 or so miles away. Their cell phone network was set afire, and folks kept coming, speeding to this spot and dashing from their cars to not miss the OMG! hairstreak butterfly.

They ALL had long lenses. Me? I shoot with a Macro- lens (Canon 100mm/2.8). They minimally greeted me, stayed grouped as you see here and seemed mesmerized by the rare butterfly, but indifferent to the rare new visitor from Georgia (via Pittsburgh/Long Island/the mean streets of Brooklyn).

True be told. I was told, some minutes later, that when I crouched and robotically approached this bush, that I jeopardized the chance of the dozens who were then on their way there, reduced the chance that the hairstreak would be there for those desperate dozens, the chance to add this one to their life list. Told that I was seen as “Selfish.” Ouch!

I think it’s best for me to revert to what I’ve always been, a lone wolf, searching, seeking, hunting for images of fresh, beautiful and rare butterflies.

There are several of you out there who are Fantastic to work trails with, and I long for renewed field foraging with those best of the best! Barbara Ann, Angela, Mike, Phil, Curt, Rose & Jerry, Dave.

Jeff