Happy Mother’s Day – May 13, 2018

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Happy Mother’s Day this May 13, 2018!

Our Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly here is enjoying the healthy nectar from Butterflyweed blooms.

That small birdstruck tear in her right forewing? What mother didn’t sacrifice to insure that we were safe, happy and prepared for all that we will confront?

Indifferent to her stunning beauty, she is all about preparing for her life’s work, just as we saw our mothers do.

Jeff

Why do we marvel at Praying Mantis’ Egg Masses?

Coming Soon, Real Soon . . . .

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Mantid egg case photographed by Jeff Zablow
Who can resist? June 2014, and there in Doak field, in the field, we discover . . . a Praying Mantis (Mantis Religiosa) egg mass. Butterflies are why we’re out there, but, who can resist stopping for a moment to examine this wonder of wonders?

What is inside? Eggs. What is the outside material? A substance produced by the female, that hardens, and . . . and serves many roles, one of them is it repels birds. It discourages birds from eating the eggs within. Impressive.

When it is 0 degrees F in that field in January 2015, those eggs remain viable. Suspended on this twig, the entire egg mass never comes in contact with the snow that covers the field, again and again throughout the winter.

Spring arrives, and the eggs hatch. The tiny mantids chew their way through the outer covering of the egg mass, and grow…

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Hairstreaks Teach . . . Respect

Gray Hairstreak butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 9/21/06

They’ve been good to me, these Yeats have. Hairstreaks? So, so many. Striped hairstreak was my first, seen in Rector, Pennsylvania at Powdermill Reserve (University of Pittsburgh’s aviary research station). Grays, Banded, Coral, White ‘M,’ Red-banded and Acadian. That’s what I met by the end of 2016.

2017 nicely expanded my Hairstreak list: Edwards hairstreak (Ohio), Clytie Ministreak (National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas), Tropical Greenstreak (at ‘The Wall’ in Mission, Texas), Juniper hairstreak (Panola Mountain State Park, Georgia), Dusky-blue Groundstreak (National Butterfly Center) and Gold-bordered hairstreak (‘The Wall).

2018 is young still. Oh, how I look forward to combing Ohio, Texas, Georgia and Nevada for hairstreaks and more. Dave enabled me to reach out to Georgia’s DNR folks, and they gave me a strong lead for finding Hessel’s hairstreaks in April. I wish.

That long said, I had to stop and well, admire this image of mine of a very shmeksy! and fresh Gray hairstreak. Now that I am in the big leagues of hairstreak chasers, what’s a fresh, gorgeous Gray mean to me?

Truth be told, more than you’d like, most hairstreaks are not fresh, and sport wings with heavy scale loss that cause dulling of color. So down in the Rio Grande Valley, late December 2017, folks came speeding over when a rare hairstreak was found at ‘The Wall.’ I was there early, and some of them were rare, for sure, but long in the tooth, that is, kind of worn-looking.

Grays, like ours here, are usually seen in good color, fresh, perky and just pookies! They pose, prance on a flowerhead, and just demand that I shoot my Fuji Velvia, not hold back.

Rare, uncommon, OMG! hairstreaks excite, but an excellent Gray hairstreak still demands stop, look and shoot.

Jeff

Who’s For American Coppers?

American Copper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, August 2014

Facebook has been a great boon for the growing admirers of butterflies. FB let us share our images of butterflies from all corners of the United States. FB brought us closer together, enabling me to introduce myself to Virginia, Barbara Ann, Angela, Peggy, Phil, Cathy, Rose and Jerry, Laurence, Marcie, Deepthi, Lois and so many more fantastic people.

Over these last years, FB has, I think, contributed to much of my travel abroad, in search of butterflies, as with Ian, and my own images of HolyLand butterflies, knowing that they will have a good platform to be seen and enjoyed.

What I have noticed, is that as the number of butterfly seekers increases, there is the search for rare, ‘uncommon’ butterflies. NABA, aka the North American Butterfly Association, in a way pushes this quest for rarities. FB often shares extra special finds at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. I was there in December 2017, and you sure get caught up in it, for in that week, I saw Erato heliconian, Red-rimmed, Mexican fritillary, Tropical leafwing, Gold-border hairstreak and more, much more. It was Wow! Wow! Wow! daily.

With the ability of almost ea$y travel to once remote American habitat, me thinks that there has been a concurrent near dismissal of more familiar USA butterfly species. Who among the well known butterfly photographers share shots of American coppers, for example?

This richly colored American Copper, at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania easily compares with the often worn, bird-struck super-rare posts so more common nowadays.

After all, Who’s for American Coppers in 2018?

Jeff