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 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, Mission, Texas), Tropical Greenstreak (‘The Wall,’ Mission, Texas),Juniper hairstreak (Panola Mountain State Park, Georgia), Dusky-blue Groundstreak (National Butterfly Center) and Gold-bordered hairstreak (‘The Wall).

This 2018 is young still. As able, Oh, how I look forward to combing Ohio, Texas, Georgia and Nevada for hairstreaks and more. Dave enable me to reach out to the Georgia DNR’s 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, hairstreaks found are not fresh, sporting wings with heavy scale loss (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 find 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.


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?


Downy Yellow Violet

Downy Yellow Violet photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

A Spring rarity, seen in Raccoon Creek State Park.’s Media Library now houses more than 800 images. Each image survived the culling out of dozens of images, this one disposed because it is out of focus, that one because of depth of field dilemmas, and the next because the butterflies eyes are seriously out of focus, and yet another because who wants to see a butterfly from its posterior end?

Of the many images of wildflowers, I have always favored this look at Downy Yellow Violets. For so many reasons, I have always like it. So delicate these blooms, so vulnerable. Delicate as they appear, they suffer the cold Spring nights, for several days running, and face the next, partly sunny day, proud and independent, almost alone, solitary.

I have found this image to be very soothing, relaxing and calming. Communicating; stop, pause, and then frenetically dashing from chore to chore Jeff, and sit and savor. Do you get that too?


All those Spots, Cells, Dashes and Lines– Strymon melinus!

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

Me too. I simply, almost, cannot wait to get out into the field again, and find and photograph butterflies. That last trip, December 21 through December 28th, left me almost, speechless. The Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Texas!

Butterflies, one new one after another. From those common to that area (all new to me) to those hardly ever seen there (also new to me), it was all that I had been reading and hearing about for these last decades. When? Well they are now at Rewind Memories in Pittsburgh, and Katie is scanning them for me, and soon, we will together amaze over Tropical leafwings, Erato heliconians, Red-rimmeds, Tropical green streaks, Mexican fritillaries and Malachites.

This is the time for us to reflect. Studying this Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), I concentrated on a push me – pull you of photographing butterflies. I have seen many, many Grays in these last, What?, 25 years. Each and every time I see one of these solitary butterflies, you would think that I’d not take the 2 seconds to stop and have a look. Don’t I already have a fine library of them in my Neumade slide cabinet? I do. Happily I do.

Then why do I linger longer when I come across a Gray? It came to me immediately. I want to find one whose large orange spots are yet larger, whose rear wing post median lines are even redder, blacker and whiter than this beauts! Whose modest blue field, near the tiny tails, is ever blue. I want one whose ventral wing surface is that true gray, say every grayer than this one.

When we found that breathtaking Malachite at the National Butterfly Center, just weeks ago, several folks with extensive experience with this very large, very green butterfly shared that this one was perhaps the most beautiful one they’d ever seen. The green, which I will soon share, was I Love That Green green. Should I ever see another Malachite, I will be all eyes, Is this one more striking than the Malachite of the winter of ’17?

Ever more handsome Giant swallowtails, Pipevine swallowtails with that dreamy blue iridescence, Red-spotted purples with shocking red spots and another brand of iridescence, Zebras heliconians that put African zebras to shame, Eastern pygmy blues that make the back numbing job of photographing them lead to a bonanza! Long-tailed skippers with the Most exquisite blue-green since that trip we made to the Isle of Capri.

I Love this one of Strymon melinus, met in Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania. When our paths cross, know though that I’m out to grab a very good image of this year’s model, with subtle refinements and improvements. Yep.