The Joy Of Meeting Lower Rio Grande Valley Butterflies

Fatal Metalmark butterfly (2) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

What an elixir! My trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley was a stunning success. In Mission, I met dozens of new species of butterflies at the National Butterfly Center’s perennial gardens, trails and meadows.

Years of Oohing! and Awwing! at shared photos of those butterflies psyched me for that trip. Flew to San Antonio, drove to Alamo, Texas and we spent several days at the NBCenter, as well as the “Wall” and Bensten State Park.

That joy that I felt, over and over again, happened when I was introduced to such as this, a Fatal Metalmark butterfly. Little Metalmarks and Northern Metalmarks tantalize me, with their understated elegance and shimmering ‘metallic’ stripes.

Pics like this one stoke my excitement for what this glorious 2020 will possibly produce!

Jeff

Red Rim & New York’s Madison Avenue?

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

Facebook Friends have been asking this brain energizing question today. It’s New Years Day and they’re asking what was the most exciting/amazing butterfly or bird or darner that you’ve seen this 2019?

Opened my Media Library on winged beauty.com and I went ahead and scrolled down through our what, 900 images?

Here’s where I stopped and day-dreamed. We were at the National Butterfly Center’s own trails, Nancy, John and I. It was the last week of that year. Brooklyn Boy here was reveling in the balmy 80’s that we were enjoying there, just 2 miles from the Mexican border.

There it was!! They told me that it was a Red Rim butterfly ( Biblis hyperia ). A super rare butterfly, seen by few of us, ever, and this one was so starkly fresh as to earn that coveted word, “gorgeous.” Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America ( page 238 ) describes it as “Rare.”

For this me, it evoked those years when I was paying my way through college by being a Messenger boy in Manhattan, daily after classes. Too, it brought back memories of those 14 years that I was a realtor in that very same Manhattan. I was a wide-awake kid/guy, and I always noticed the rare excellence of women and men in that wonderland of an island.

Madison Avenue there was the most likely place to enjoy such sights. I love when butterflies conjure up memories . . .

Jeff

 

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