A long Time Favorite

Praying Mantis on New England Aster photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, Pennsylvania

This endures as a long time Favorite of mine. I was working the edges of the 100+ acre Doak field in Raccoon Creek State Park, and I cam upon a group of Spruce trees. They were young trees, and from their grouping, it appeared that they had been planted at the field’s edge.

There on top of a healthy Spruce was this Chinese Mantis. It was motionless, posing at a fine angle, the sky was deep blue, no breeze, and as I approached and began setting myself to shoot away, it continued to gaze at me! I’m used to gazing at butterflies, moths, spiders and more, but don’t recall much experience with such a subject gazing at me.

This has been a long (very long) time favorite of mine, despite the realization that this is an alien species of Mantis, and has displaced many insect predators these last decades.


One Of His Most Loved Images

Fly on Jewelweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Frick Park, Pittsburgh, PA

Ever wonder what images long term nature photographers love the most? Me, I’ve been seriously photographing wildlife and native plant life since about 1990. Of the estimated 100,000 images I’ve captured, this tiny fly, nectaring on a Jewelweed blossom, remans one of my favorites.

Why? It is one of the most soothing, calming pics I think that I’ve ever taken. Do you agree?

Seen and captured at Frick Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Rare Dragonfly ID’d By Dave

Gray Petal Tail photographed by Jeff Zablow at Davis Memorial State Prairie Reserve, Ohio

Our group was searching for orchids and other rare plants. I was more than Happy to be with them, Dave, Angela, Barbara Ann (A”H), Joe and one or two others. We went to Davis Memorial State Prairie Reserve in Ohio, and it did not disappoint, with its many unusual and uncommon and just rare plants and animals.

As we moved on the trail, an especially large, near giant dragonfly flew by and landed on the tree you see here. Dave would not let this one go unnoticed. He ID’d it as a rare, very ancient species of dragonfly, known as the Gray Petaltail (Tachopteryx thoreyi). It’s a huge northeastern dragonfly that was unique in many ways.

It’s unusual in that it’s the only northeastern dragonfly whose larvae is not aquatic. it’s larvae develop in wet, mossy seeps. When developers build on wild land, they destroy seeps, and reduce the presence of this fascinating dragonfly.

A Big dragonfly that is believed to have not changed since the time of the dinosaurs. When you set out to find butterflies, you also find so, so much more.


Darners Soon?

Darner at rest photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, OH

It’s been months for me and months for you. No? We haven’t seen a darner in what? Months?

Scrolling through our Media Library, I decided that it was time to share an image of a fine darner, set amidst the lush greenery that we also want to wade into.

This one met at OMG! Lynx Prairie Reserve in Adams County, Ohio, June, and just a handful of miles from the Ohio/Kentucky border.

After I dumbly caught a large darner in mid-flight, with my bare left hand when I was about 9 years old (that was more painful than I could have ever dreamed), not one of the 104,558 darners that I have met since have ever bothered me. I love darners.


Are You Able To ID This Moth?

Unidentified Moth photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Federica, Saint Simons Island, GA

We spotted this moth on a mostly sunny morning at Ft. Federica, on St. Simons Island, on the Georgia coast. Me? I can recognize almost all butterflies, but moths, I don’t know most of them.

We spent almost a week in a vacation house in Townsend, Georgia. Most of our field work was was done at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, about 25 minutes from our beautiful rental home. That one day we drove to Ft. Federica, in part to see Virginia’s childhood home of St. Simons Island. I’d ask her where the best place to find and shoot butterflies on the island, and Virginia said that’d be this hundreds of years old English fort, Ft. Federica.

Id’ing moths is a very popular pursuit now, so I look forward to several of you helping us name this fascinating moth.