Black Form Eastern Tiger on Buttonbush

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Black Form), photographed by Jeff Zablow at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Heat, humidity, mosquitoes, ebbs and flows in butterfly activity all disappear, when? When a beauty like this female fly in. She’s a black form of the much more common Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.

She here shows evidence of a little bit of wear (some of the scales that cover her wings have slipped off), but just as so many remain beautiful well into the later decades of their life, she too is gorgeous.

Met a Pond 2 at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Juliette, Georgia, middle Georgia. The buttonbush where it loves to be, at the edge of a pond.

I’ve always had this thing for OMG! beauty . . . .

Jeff

Gone From 99.999% Of Their Homes East Of The Mississippi River?

Regal Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Years and years went by before this day. The day I finally, after much effort on my part to see them, finally met them. Where was this? Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, not far from the capitol of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. NABA totally rebuffed my requests, then the Ft. Indiantown Gap Reservation’s annual June limited access program let me meet them. Yes, I’m still displeased that I had to wait so long . . .

I’m still puzzled, though. 200 years ago, Regal Fritillary Butterflies still flew within walking distance of my childhood home in Brooklyn, New York City. Today, they no longer can be found in 99.999% of their former range east of the U.S.’s Mississippi River. They fly only here where you see this one, and I’m told, on another military reservation in that state of Virginia.

They prefer rich meadows, full of the Butterflyweed you see here, and Common Milkweed. What bothers me is the total absence of any explanation for their disappearance from their historical ranges. Our cell phones amaze, our computers are incredibly advanced, our car and planes would not be believed by folks just 20 years ago. Our universities all have incredibly advanced research capability and our organizations, like the aforementioned National Butterfly Association and Xerces and the National Audubon Society, etc. urge their membership to do more and more.

Why has no one offered an explanaton for the disappearance of the Regal Fritillary butterfly from my old East Flatbush neighborhood? From the entire state of New York? New Jersey? Maryland? Virginia? West Virginia? North Carolina? South Carolina? Tennessee? Georgia, my home now? Why?

A response of a single word,’Development’ isn’t enough, anymore.

Jeff

Hiding At Clay Pond

Eyed Satyr Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

Barbara Ann (A”H) and I were at Clay Pond Preserve in Frewsburg, New York, near Jamestown. It was a damp, humid morning, with the sun promising to return within the hour. It was early, as we waded through the 2-foot tall pond-edge grasses and sedges. As we moved, butterflies rose up from here and there, fleeing. There were more butterflies being rustled up than I would have expected. That reassured me that on that my second trip to Clay Pond, it remained a rich, healthy wetland destination.

I noticed this form in the grass ahead, and carefully making my approach, I kneeled down to get a better look, and this is what I saw, an Eyed Brown Butterfly (Satyroydes eurydice). The available light was limited, the air was moisture saturate, and the sky remain cloudy.

Almost like those TV shows where the cops are staking out a house, before sunrise or after sunset.

Jeff

Welcome Palamedes!

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

We had one Palamedes Swallowtail visit our Eatonton, Georgia natives garden. That was exciting. Though Glassberg cites the Palamedes as a “Stray” some miles from the northernmost range it occupies, Eatonton was well placed for a Palamedes ‘stray.’ We had no Redbay or Laurels, its hostplants, and our one visitor only passed through.

We’re now two months here in Macon, miles farther south in Georgia. We continue to not feature Laurels or Redbay here, but Sunday’s trip to Jim & Debi’s Nearly Native Nursery may, who knows, change that!

This Palamedes was at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle. We never Photoshop our images, and the stark Beauty of this Palamedes so electrifies me!!

Jeff

Searching For Rare Botany

Barbara Ann Case, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Meadow in New York

She was methodically searching the grasses and sedges that surrounded the Tamarack Shagnum Moss Bog, looking for rare, hard-to-find plants. Barbara Ann Case (A”H) passed this year, and we’ve lost a naturalist who loves to seek rare and beautiful wildflowers, orchids, ephemerals, ferns and more.

This was at that magical acid bog that we’ve posted about recently, secluded in far western New York, near Frewsburg. Where was I? The bog open water begins just beyond the foreground of this photo. Me? I’m searching too, at the bog pond’s edge, looking for Bog Copper butterflies. Their single flight a year coincides with the appearance of the dwarf Blueberry bushes upon which they will lay their eggs. When the blueberry bushes grow, the Bog Coppers eclose. To ever see them, you must visit a bog like this one, at the correct time, remembering that Bog Coppers fly no more than 3 weeks each year.

The Pitchers plants and Sun Dew plants there fascinate me, they do. The high acidity of the bog, the result of its Sphagnum Moss and other acid-rich botany, insure that the bog continues unspoiled. Few plants and animals can tolerate, nor do they enjoy the extreme acidity.

That same acidity, and its fabled reputation for preserving whatever drops into it, causes your mind to create strange daydreams of what may be down in its depths, preserved in nearly mummified state for what, 500 years? 1,000 years? 2,000 years?

Wow! stuff, and the very same reason that such a bog should not be visited alone, for if G-d Forbid one fell in, and sank down, would it take 250 years for you to be . . . ?

Jeff