Danaus Plexippus

Right side view of Monarch butterfly on Tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

They will be here in my Georgia yard, soon, very soon. Back where I used to live, Pittsburgh, you’d see perhaps one Monarch or two in your home garden from May to July. That was exasperating Monarchmama, because those 7 foot tall and 8 foot tall Common milkweed plants were strong, bearing huge flowerheads, all for one or two Monarchs! Twenty or more milkweeds, despondent, waiting for Monarchs, but none come.

Here in Georgia, Virginia’s Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch (as in Br’er Rabbit) Habitat usually has 3 to 4 Monarchs present on any day from April to October. Last November, there was that day when 5 Monarchs arrived in my own garden, together, and they nectared on the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia) for several hours, before they left, headed to Mexico.

They are show headliners, like Johnny Cash, Elvis, the Beatles, Diana Ross, Bing Crosby (my music stopped with the ’60’s). When they fly in, those poor Cloudless Sulphurs, Painted Ladies and Black Swallowtails are abandoned, for Look! a Monarch just flew in!! This male is happily on Tithonia, in that very same Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia.

So, I ask you, Why did G-d make the Monarch butterfly?

Jeff

Canada Lily At Akeley

Canada Lily photographed by Jeff Zablow at Akeley Swamp, NY

It is a rush, when you work a trail, a former railroad tracks sideline, that skirts Akeley Swamp, and then discover Canada Lilies. We’re here in very western New York State, not far from Chataqua. Late June.

You stop, stare, approach and marvel. All this is patent pending, a take-it-to-the-bank response to encountering these extraordinary lily blooms.

They hang, poised and confident, on those slender strong stems. Their color is formulaic for some guys, lipstick red, bringing out the 19-year old in some. Gently lift the blossom, and you’re treated to the startlingly beautiful tiger lily coloration hidden from view.

They are found in small groups, always few in number. They so evoke the girls back in high school, back in the day that some here will recall, and others will never know.

Kudos to the Cr-ator.

Jeff

What Do Fritillary Caterpillars Eat?

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

Fritillary Butterfly are those Brushfoot butterflies that come in oranges, browns and black. Most of us know and love Gulf frits, Great Spangled frits, Variegates frits, Aphrodite frits, Silver bordered frits, Meadow frits and Regal frits, if you’re east of the Mississippi River.

Now that I’m relocated to Georgia, the fritillary butterflies here mostly deposit their eggs on Passionflower vines, easy to grow Southern garden favorites. Passionflower also attracts other butterflies, including Zebra heliconians.

The most common hostplant for Fritillary butterflies comes as something of a surprise, and are in most gardens. Fritillary butterflies mostly lay their eggs on violets. it still seems incongruous, that their caterpillar hatch on and feed upon these tiny little plants, present in the early Spring, and not so much as 4″ above the soil.

Shown here are Downy Yellow Violets, that I spotted in Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Holli and Leslie would surely have me remind you, urge you, to please delay your annual leaf raking of your lawns, until mid-Spring. Why? Because Fritillary caterpillars spend the winter as chrysalises each with a rolled leaf around them, right there in the leaf drop sitting on your lawn. Rake your lawns in October/November, and you may be removing (killing) dozens of Fritillary cats, they, awaiting the onset of Spring weather.

Jeff

 

Eye Candy Swallowtail

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly on Thistle photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

We were at ‘What’s this, What’s that?’ mode, now examining this heretofore never seen thistle. Its stems looked way too frail, and its flowers had delicate petals, they a difficult to describe pinkish white.

What also caught our eye was the steady arrival of butterflies and bees. I reasoned that with the obvious magnetic pull of these blossoms, I might just stop at this particularly robust looking thistle, and await what might fly in.

That worked out well, for soon this especially gorgeous Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly arrived. He had to be very fresh, for his wings were almost black, and their shocks of color were as dramatic as you’d see in the butterflies of Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia or Indonesia.

A super-duper Palamedes swallowtail at the edge of Laura’s Woody Pond in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, on the Georgia coast.

Eye candy in this showcase of a Refuge.

Jeff

Captured Before the Russians, North Koreans, Hezbollah, Iranian Regulars/Irregulars, ISIL . . .

Tarucus Rosaceus butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow near the Syrian border, at Golan Heights, Israel

I wanted images of the 2 Tarucus butterflies found in the HolyLand. I was in an SPNI field house in the Golan, and my plan was to drive south to a place I’d never been to, with no guidance other than the maps in an Israel field guide. The more than one hour drive skirted the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, past Capernum, to scout out probable habitat for these black and white nifties.

Found them! Here is Tarucus rosaceus, sweetly nectaring in a spot some 3/4 of a miles or so from the Syrian border. His markings are striking, and I was very happy that I made the effort to add Tarucus to my ‘I Really Want To Locate These Butterflies’ itinerary.

I did stand there and marvel at how close I was to villainous, murderous demons, the Syrian butchers, the mercenary Russians and their high tech ‘toys,’ Iranian Thugs who call themselves the Iranian Guard, for hire North Korean Satans, ISIL monsters who kill and behead Christians and whomever else, Hezbollah Haters who train 7 days a week to kill Jews, Chinese technicians who are there to do what?, Hamas murderers and  . . . All of them madmen less than a mile away, and there I am breaking my own rule, getting down on my belly to cop a shot of a tiny Tarucus butterfly (thus offering myself up to ticks, scorpions and Middle Eastern pit vipers-of the no known serum type).

A grown man acting like a boy, all to catch a good look at G-d’s work.

Jeff