My Heart Beat Jumps when I see a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Ventral View of a Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly on a Teasel Flowerhead photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Your heart beat jumps when a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly flies in! Mine does. You just never see them in pairs or threes, and do you expect to see one? No. East of the Mississippi River, they are a northern butterfly.

When this one flew in, and set on this Teasel flowerhead, I was so Thankful for being there, being there then. Add to that the Milbert’s slowly worked the Teasel flowers, one by one, methodically. Better yet, it did not flee when I made my long, protected Macro- lens approach. Icing on the tiramisu cake was that the one was . . . gorgeous. Just look at that flash of nourishing orange on the dorsal surface of that right forewing.

I’m humbled by such limited experiences. I expect that few of you have been so fortunate as I’ve been, to have met and spent many minutes with Milbert’s (this one went to several Teasel flowerheads before it flew).

Raccoon Creek State Park, Nichol Road trail, southwestern Pennsylvania, about an 8-hour drive from the Statue of Liberty boat landing.

(Teasel is an alien plant, FYI, although truth be told, many, many butterflies adore its nectar (as do bees, such as the one shown on the far side of the Teasel)).

Jeff

Large Salmon Arab Butterfly in the Israeli HolyLand, near the Mediterranean Coast

Large Salmon Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Binyamina, Israel

I’ve scoured Glassberg’s Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America and I cannot find an North American butterfly that is similar to this Large Salmon Arab Butterfly. Where’d I meet this eye-pleasing yellow butterfly? I was working the dirt roads that cut through agricultural fields in Binyamina in central Israel, not to far from the Mediterranean coast. This wildflower grows along many such roads, and butterflies visit it much.

I love photographing butterflies in the HolyLand. They have walked the same trails, ancient many, as I have, seen the same butterflies as I have. I have little doubt that they stopped and marveled at the same butterflies as I have. That they were pleased as I’ve been at G-d’s beautiful winged beauties.

Jeff

Did the Lord Make Argiope Spiders?

Argiope Spider on Her Web photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

She was on her web, trailside along the Woody Pond trail at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in coastal Georgia. She was big, and you couldn’t easily miss seeing her, the web some 2-3 feet off the ground.

Of course I stopped, and I was determined to collect some good images of her, and the males who too were on her web, but seemed to keep a good, safe distance from her.

This species of Argiope spider certainly is colorful, is finely constructed and engineered, and some would say has existed in this wetland habitat for thousands of years.

Me? I look at her, she probably a comely looker for her species, and I go back to basics, i.e., Why did G-d make her and her spider species?

Jeff

An American Snout Butterfly on Sweet Flowers in a Bone Dry Arroyo

Snout Butterfly on a blooming flower photographed by Jeff Zablow at White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona

Working that bone dry arroyo in the White Tank Mountains Regional Park just west of Phoenix, Arizona. There were scant few flowers to be found there. Those flowers that I was able to find for sure attracted butterflies. When I found flowers in full bloom, all I had to do was wait moments, and from what seemed nowhere, butterflies of known and unknown species would fly directly in, and they’d work the open flowers slowly and methodically.

This American Snout butterfly (Libytheana carinenta) was a fine, willing subject. They please me, when they flash their vivid orange-red patches, white blazes and my bunch recalls Jimmy Durante and his ‘schnoz,’ which the Snouts extended papla always, always remind me of, and the Durante memories . . . make me smile.

That arroyo, please never enter one. I did, many times those years visiting family in Sun City West (Del Webb development). Yes, signs warned to never enter them. Admittedly, I disregarded those signs, and in retrospect, a flash flood, arriving at high speed, and drowning this boy from far away Brooklyn would have been not the way I want to pass.

Jeff

Take a Peek at this Viceroy Butterfly’s Striking White Dots Set in a Vivid Black Band

Viceroy Butterfly Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

A butterfly that almost always looks a bit different from the one before, this Viceroy butterfly has faint black line barely seen along the trailing edges of its hind wings. Stronger than that are its striking white dots set in that vivid black band that traverses all of its wing edges, the rich orangish of its wings and the dramatic white dots of forewing tips and head.

Where will you see your Viceroy this 2021? It stays close to wetlands, streams, creeks and lakes, and doesn’t travel too far from its hostplant, willow trees and willow shrubs.

Folks like us, who seek butterflies to score their images almost always stop what we’re doing when a Viceroy flies in, or flies past. Why? It just might be just like our response when we see a superstar walk by, Oh My Goodness, is that . . . ?

Nichol Road, Raccoon Creek State Park, southwestern Pennsylvania, a fine trail.

Jeff