Like most of us, I’d seen images of butterflies from the tropics, Cuba, Mexico, Central America, India, Africa, Viet Nam, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Argentina, Peru . . . Long did I sort of want to have worked those exotic trails. Funds, time, friends to accompany, those all stymied me, as well as the strong desire to never be kidnapped.
Our trip to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, what? 2-3 miles from the Mexican border delivered the miracle cure for those longings. This Erato Heliconian Butterfly was a exotic as any I’d ever get to met in any of the destinations above. Those lipstick-red wing bars and their 90 degree positioned whitish stripes, all set against ebony black wing, mesmerized.
I could get no closer than seen here, but no difference, for that Memory is engraved in my brain. The last week in December, Christmas week, and Oh My Goodness the sight for my sore eyes.
What a thrill to meet a Texan Crescent Butterfly at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas! She so brought to mind the hundreds (thousands?) of Pearl Crescents seen these decades, the 2 or 3 Northern Crescents too and the 8 or 9 Phaon Crescents sporting their cream-colored forewing bands.
Delicious were those red markings and the rows of white spots on the hindwing. Respectful was she, unlike my trail partners back East, the Pearl Crescents, who accompany you along trails, but become so difficult when you attempt to approach for a photograph.
2020 produced limited opportunity to get into the field, to travel to find butterflies. 2021? and beyond, OH! how I want to find and meet new! Canada, Georgia, Florida, southeast Arizona, my missed northwestern Pennsylvania, Texas (Oh! Texas) . . . I’ve read and reread Wild America and The Travels of William Bartram and they have only increased my desire to get out there, very there, and score images you will want to see.
The flight to San Antonio Texas, boarded very early in the morning, because of that I slept in a hotel near Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. We flew the 1,300 miles or so, rented a car at the airport, and drove more than 4 hours to Alamo, Texas. Those 5 days in Mission, Texas were unforgettable. Every day I met new butterflies. I would turn and there’d be new butterflies.
Many of those new species were more than rare, call them very rare. I was almost dazed at the serendipity (is that the correct word here?) of it all. Christmas week in Texas, almost at the border, and so much to be Thankful for.
This Malachite butterfly was the most memorable of them all. Fresh, poised, elegant and ‘Rare,’ it remained in place much of the time. Injured? No. Weakened by poor health? No. It’s senses dulled by some problem? No.
On seeing the Malachite Butterfly, I appreciated it all, I internalized the incredibility of what I’d experienced and yes, I knew that G-d had again shared great beauty with . . . me.
National Butterfly Center, Mission, Texas.
Want to see a Clytie Ministreak butterfly? If you lived where I live, Macon, Georgia, you’d have to travel those same 1,300 miles or so, to southern Texas, and then hope (pray?) that this “U-C” (Glassberg – Uncommon to Common) butterfly was about when you arrived in Mission, Texas.
I was fortunate to have travelled with Nancy and John from Atlanta’s International Airport to San Antonio, and then was driven those 4 hours to Alamo, Texas. That week, December’s Christmas week, we saw many dozens of species that I’d never seen before. Some rare species made their appearance just to please me, and for that I’m Thankful.
I’ve seen Kirk Douglas, President Eisenhower’s back of his head, Diana Ross, Mike Tyson and some more, to which List I add, Clytie Ministreak butterfly, at the National Butterfly Center’s Perennial Gardens, Mission, Texas.
These monarchs, coupled together in the perennial gardens of the National Butterfly Center (NBC), were the largest Monarch butterflies that I have ever seen. They are much larger than the thousands I’ve seen.
The female can be seen, she under the male. I’d seen her nectaring on these very same milkweed blooms, slowly and patiently. He flew to her, and they remained as you see them here, for a handful of minutes. They flew away, the male carrying her along with him.
An unforgettable moment at the Mission, Texas NBC, less than a handful of miles from the Mexico border wall.