Seeking Butterflies

People viewing gold-bordered hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at 'The Wall,' Mission, TX

Here I was in Mission, Texas, when a rare butterfly had been spotted at the “Wall.” This scene was repeated a few times those 5 days. Know that such was almost unknown to me. Those 15 or more folks present at the time, and more coming after their telephone chain spread the word that a heretofore almost never seen in the USA butterfly was feeding on natives, was only the second time in my life that I’d been other than alone when I shoot and watch butterflies.

They were there because almost all of them now live nearby, drawn to relocate by the presence of the North American Butterfly Association’s National Butterfly Center and by friends and acquaintances who had resettled nearby.

Me? I’ve been searching for butterflies for decades and has been active for more than 9 years. I have been a member of NABA for years, though I cannot say that this closely knit group has ever done much more than accept my membership and its dues. Those unpleasant experiences years ago, when I sought to shoot the Regal Fritillary butterfly, almost begging the leadership to help me . . . and receiving zero response time and time again, have bristled those old Brooklyn street sensitivities.

I’m in central Georgia now, and continue to hunt for butterfly images alone, never encountering such a scene as you see here. It must be all for the good, for I barely leave a trace where I tred, mar nothing there and with the near infinite silence I work in, often achieve opportunities that just bring Joy! to me, and I hope at times to you.


Neither Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Clinton, Regan or Trump . . . but I did Meet . . .

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

Sometimes I dwell on an absence that gives me pause. I have never met an American President of the United States. Who’d I have wanted to meet and chat with? Presidents Nixon, Kennedy, Regan and Trump. As my life progressed, I reached new benchmarks, and I would’ve like to meet these Presidents, all of whom had fascinating, broad and rich life experience. Hero worship? Nah. I met Mafia guys in my life, they too accomplished much, but not anywhere near what those Presidents did.

I comfortably equate those thoughts with the satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment that I experienced when after that flight from Atlanta to San Antonio, Texas, and the 4-hour drive with Nancy and John we arrived in Alamo, Texas, for our 5-day trip to find new and rare butterflies.

Shown here is a very, very rare butterfly, magnificently beautiful and elegant, that we met and I observed at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, for a total of more than 30 minutes. A fresh, vividly colored Erato Heliconian butterfly. I must be one of the very few Americans who have watched an Erato fly more than 70 feet away, remarkably showing those broad, rich red markings all, all of that flight. My own theory? They must be toxic to predators, for why else would it be that they accented those prominent reds, each and every second of their flight? Aren’t they to warn predators . . . to stay away.

Here’s the Erato while it was resting, some time during those magical 30 minutes.

Not Robert F. Kennedy, Nancy Regan, Donald Trump or Jacqueline Kennedy, but I did meet this Erato Heliconian butterfly, and am grateful for that. Seriously.


I Saw The Red Rim Butterfly

Red-rim butterfly on leaf photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

We were in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. John and Nancy prepped me with the forewarning that we might, might see very rare butterflies. It was the week of Christmas, and I was puzzled. How could we see real rare butterflies in the dead of winter?

The Crosbys were so right! Here is a look at one of the rarest of butterfly visitors to the United States. The Red Rim butterfly, It stayed there in that semi-darkened stand of trees, some 15 feet or so away from me. I was shooting with my Canon Macro- lens, and struggled to cop the very best images that I could.

That broad band of red, on an otherwise black butterfly? Striking and I think that I thanked G-d for the treat that was presented before me.

I saw the Red Rim. Few can ever say they did.


Unchained Melody At The NBC

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

He is closest to us. She is barely visible below. Monarchs coupled in the Perennial Gardens of the National Butterfly Gardens of the NABA in Mission, Texas. The largest Monarchs I have ever seen. A mere 2 miles or so from the Mexican border.

Me? Sitting here watching the rain, it 52 degrees Fahrenheit outside, in usually sunny Georgia.

What does this view make me sing in my mind, the lyrics to Unchained Melody, and those summer days on the beach at Arverne, Rockaway, Queens, New York: Oh My Love, My Darling, I Hunger For Your Touch. Time Goes By So Slowly And Time Can Mean So Much . . . Are You Still Mine? I Need Your Love, G-d Speed Your Love To Me.

Sure a trip to the National Butterfly Center is unforgettable . . .


Upon First Seeing A Malachite

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

It was Christmas week, when my friends pointed out my first and only encounter with this Malachite butterfly.

It was so so fresh, its colors vivid and it was calm, remaining where it was for Oh! nearly 25 minutes. Me? I considered whether or not G-d sent this Gem there, for reward for I am not sure what?

I shot away, from different angles, there in that darkened understory of The National Butterfly Center trail, we in Mission, Texas.

I ask that you compose a short Ode to Malachite.

Would you do that for us?