American Copper Butterflies on a Cut Out Trail in Raccoon Creak State Park’s Doak Field

American copper butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

There was that cut path (trail) in Doak Field that I used to love to work. Orange sulphurs, Tiger Swallowtails and the occasional Monarch Butterfly were almost sure to be seen along that 200 foot hike. Good that, be they weren’t what I was looking for. I was on the lookout for American Copper Butterflies. June and July they’d be there, usually resting on the mowed trail, and it was always the same. I’d slowly approach, spot several, including a beautiful American Copper. They would quickly disperse, flying no more than 10-15 feet into the meadow growth. I’d continue slowly on the trail, and within minutes, I would return, hoping to again find and photograph that ‘beautiful one.’

I liked their story. Their ancestors came from Western Europe and the British Isles, and like many of our family lore, they thrived here, and now have earned the common name ‘American Copper.’

Here now in Georgia, so many I meet trace their families’ stories back to Georgia in the early to late 1700’s. I know because I often ask. Like the American Copper Butterflies, my own story in America begins much later than that, but like my new Georgia acquaintances, I feel deeply rooted here, and so value this soil.

American Coppers please, and make me appreciate.


Eight Hours West of the Empire State Building I See a Compton Tortoiseshell Butterfly!

Compton Tortoiseshell Butterfly on the Ground photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Many will open this post, puzzle over why this Jeff guy didn’t get a closer, better image, and close it and for a second time shrug, Why didn’t Jeff do better here?

The chance of seeing a Compton Tortoiseshell butterfly in Florida? 0%. Georgia? 0%. In North Carolina? 0.003% Ohio? 0.011% Pennsylvania? 0.03%. Ottawa (Canada)? 0.9%. These figures are my own estimations, and they are not for sightings in one’s garden. They are for sightings of Compton in the field, sightings for those out seeking Compton Tortoiseshells.

Still wondering why Jeff didn’t cop a better, closer shot? Been using a Macro- lens these years. It can revert to more distant captures, but they will then lack the detail that I so much seek. Another reason? I’ve seen Compton Tortoiseshell Butterflies some 5 times in these decades. The closest I was ever able to get to one was some 10 feet away. That time in the wildflower Reserve at Raccoon Creek State Park, the Compton passed me on a trail, inexplicably stopped on a tree stump, and, when I SOOOO cautiously approached it, fled, even before I could robotically set my left knee down on the ground, to shoot away. There I was, 10 feet away from a tree stump, watching that Compton swiftly fly down the trail, Gone!

How many of you have also seen this ‘R-LU (Rare to Locally Uncommon)’ Brushfoot butterfly?

At Raccoon Creek State Park’s Nichol Road Trail, some 8+ hours west of The Empire State Building in midtown New York, New York.


Finding Brooklyn’s Cabbage White Butterflies in Raccoon Creek State Park

Cabbage White Butterfly on a Thistle photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PAFemale Cabbage White Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

They were friends when I was a little boy, back in Brooklyn, New York. We lived on the edge of development, our houses next to vast undeveloped ‘lots’ back then, those ‘lots’ today all covered with houses, stores and businesses. Never much for the brick, cement and asphalt that I grew up in, I was the kid who left the punchball, stickball, Johnny On The Pony, Heels, Ring-A-Leeveo games, to head over to the ‘lots’ to enjoy the wildlife that called those tree-less spaces home.

I remember that Cabbage White Butterflies were very abundant back then. Never had a field guide as a kid, but somehow I had learned that they were known as ‘European Cabbage White Butterflies’ and I kind of never developed much affection or love for them. Today? Almost never hear or see them called ‘European’ anymore, for they are here, here to stay. We do see few of them nowadays, although I’ve not read much of why their numbers have declined appreciably.

Males have one spot on their forewings. The image on the left is a male, I hold. Females have 2 spots on their forewings, and the image on the right clearly shows those 2 spots.

Both images were captured in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, some 8 plus hours by car from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, New York, New York.


With a Zabulon butterfly, the Coincidence of my Name, Zablow, Fascinates and Kind of Tickles Me

Skipper Butterfly on a Thistle Flowerhead photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

I look for them alot. Their males do challenge me, for ID’ing Skipper butterflies is somewhat difficult for me, to this day. When I come upon a female Zabulon Skpper, I’m doubly happy. No, make that triply happy.

I find the female Zabulons to be very beautiful, and this one is a good example. She has much to admire. Those purplish-blue spots on the trailing edges of her wings delight, the white spots and white border streak, all seen here, are handsome, the likable brown of her wings is a fav color of mine, and her right eye seen here bordered by white markings, that too is pretty.

Know too that when I meet a Zabulon butterfly, the coincidence of my name, Zablow, and Zabulon fascinates and kind of tickles me, it does.

She was busy nectaring on this sizable Thistle flowerhead in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, some 8 plus hours from the famous Brooklyn Bridge that spans Brooklyn and New York, New York (Manhattan).


Shocked by How Beautiful a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly is in Raccoon Creek State Park

Dorsal View of a Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Regrets? I regret that so many of our southern USA friends have never seen such a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly. Guides such as Glassberg’s Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America have Milbert’s rare south of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and the southernmost far Western USA. In Canada and the northern tier of the USA it can be found in June through October.

When you are fortunate to see a fresh Milbert’s, as I was here at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, you are near shocked by how beautiful this butterfly is. I was, and was again each of the few times I met one.

Nectaring on Teasel here, the oranges and yellows are starkly bordered bye nearly black, the 2 reddish epaulets on each forewing, the white spots on the forewings, the blue dots on the trailing edges of the hindwings, and more fit my sometimes shared recognition, that the finest jewelry produced by the studios of Tiffany, Cartier’s, Van Cleef & Arpels, etc. do not come close to matching the beauty of G-d’s finest butterflies. I’ve seen both and know.