Waiting For The Giants

Giant butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Pigeon Mountain, GA

Here we are in the first week of July, and we are waiting. Here in my more than 2 year old natives garden, in Eatonton, Georgia, today was a good day: Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, American Snouts, Buckeyes, and 6 species of Skippers. Those who say that these last months have seen a dearth of butterflies, well compared to last year in the 303 Garden, they are correct.

Jock Stender of Charleston, South Carolina came along this week to see Virginia’s Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, and today they stopped by to see our own 303 Garden. No mind that I was showing him around in 95F heat. It was fun finally meeting him and his friend, and we shared lots about the native plants that I showed him, and the butterflies we found.

We did not, did not, see any Giant Swallowtails today. Fact of the matter is, I’ve not seen a Giant in my sizable garden since March of this year, when a worn female flew in. We later found 3 Giant caterpillars, on their hostplant, Hercules Club. We enjoyed watching them grow, but, alas, they all disappeared shortly after. The usual suspects?

So we wait for the Giants and we watch our Tithonia grow, some of them now 3 feet tall, growing daily to their eventual 7 feet to 8 feet height.

We are some 1.1 miles from Virginia Linch’s Briar Patch Habitat, and when her army of Mexican Sunflowers open, and our platoon of Tithonia open, I have little doubt that the Giants will gracefully float in, and spend hours, sipping the must-be-sweet nectar of those beautiful sunflowers.

Jeff

On Pigeon Mountain

Pink Wildflowers photographed by Jeff Zablow at Pigeon Mountain, GA

Last year’s trip to the north Georgia mountains led us to David, a native of that beautiful region. David led us to Pigeon mountain, and its pair of pristine meadows.

The #1 goal was to find and shoot Diana Fritillary butterflies. All was seemingly perfect: A mountain meadow, full of nectaring blooms, sunny, windless weather, and all the hikers that we saw stayed below those meadows, leaving us to ourselves and our search.

Dianas? Nope. I’ve still not seen my first. Giants? Huge Giant Swallowtails, usually seen in groups of 3 or 4. Memories? Wonderful ones, on a mountain in north Georgia.

Still to be done? Need to get an ID on these nice wildflowers, growing in those Pigeon mountain meadows, along the perimeter tree line.

Ellen? Virginia? Rose? Barbara Ann? Angela? Jeff?

Jeff

Wildflower Meet-Up

Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Pigeon Mountain, GA

Sure I used to search for butterflies, and little noticed the wildflowers I passed. That was then, and well, this is now. I readily identify almost all of the the eastern butterflies that I meet. My search in 2019 will be a much more selective one, compared say to my field work in 2009.

Why? I’ve seen some thousands of Eastern tailed blues, Pearl crescents, Commas, Eastern tiger swallowtails, Great spangled fritillaries and Orange sulphur butterflies. Amazingly, I’ve now scored lots of Zebra swallowtails, Pipevine swallowtails, Gulf and Variegated fritillaries, Giant swallowtails and even Mourning cloak butterflies. When I see them, I don’t ignore them. What I do is run a 1/1,000th of a second scan of each and only stop if the results are fresh, handsome and complete (no wing damage or significant scale loss). This because my own library of slides and images now sports good images of a whole lot of butterflies.

All this allows me more time to stop and admire wildflowers, especially ones that I don’t know. Hauling field guides with me challenges the mule in me, and Jeff, TBTold, will never be adept with using his cell phone to ID wildflowers as so many do. Would that Barbara Ann, Angela, Ellen, Curt, Virginia, Roger, Dave and Phil were with me each time, for they know what they see . . .

This pert wildflower captured my attention on Pigeon Mountain, in the northwest corner of Georgia.  These meet-ups puzzle and challenge. (‘Have we met before?’) What say you to it?

Jeff