My Vote? Monarch On Joe Pye

Monarch Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at

Tired of the USA election cycle, I prefer much to cast my vote for this All American pair. A male Monarch butterfly nectaring on Joe Pye flowers. An American butterfly on an American wildflower. Both valued in your meadows, fens and trails.

See? This has been a fine, relaxing change for me. For you?


When The Monarch Return . . . .

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

The juice of life: When the Monarch butterflies return! The Monarchs we enjoyed this 2020 will return. They may be some worn, but they are among the most admirable, amazing animals I know of. Riding those warm air currents, hundreds of feet above us, to Mexico’s central mountains, and returning on those those high air currents . . . Astounding.

When they return, I hope they will find us healthy, hale and . . . Happy!

Danaus plexxipus. G-d’s superb creation.


Political Storm? Antidote? Pearly Eye!

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

I am not a kid anymore, and truth  be told, this Presidential election cycle has captured my attention. Lots of you know some about me, and many know that though I was born in storied Brooklyn, New York, it’s difficult to guess my politics.

What’s shareable is I’ve always been a straight-up, do the right thing, fight like a tiger if you have to guy. Never stole a candy from a corner candy store, never shoplifted, never took a dime from anyone. I’m upset with politicians regularly, though I do recall that they’re not writers, plumbers, dentists, steelworkers, cops or pension specialists . . . for a reason.

I have at times battled with elevated blood pressure, and this political who-done-it has been triggering me, some.

Here’s the antidote for me, and for many of you. Our fascination with butterflies is engrossing, challenging, quite intellectual and I believe most importantly, sustains and nurtures our deep need for visual stimulation. I remember when I noticed this Northern  Pearly-eye butterfly on that Nichol Road trail (Raccoon Creek State Park, southwestern Pennsylvania). I made my slow, patented approach, and I did, I prayed that this Gem would remain there, in place. It did.

It’s beauty? Near overwhelming. Frieda A”H (Of Blessed Memory) had passed, and I very needed jolts of rich beauty and meaningfulness. This butterfly held that leaf, and permitted me to shoot away I Love the result, this.

Beauty, elegance and real-time meaningfulness? Complete antidotes at a time when the real world around disappoints.


Mystery? How Are They Still Flying? It’s November 3rd!

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Raccoon Creek State Park

I’m in Georgia, my new home. Hundreds of miles north of Macon, Georgia, this butterfly is still flying around. It’s 66 degrees Fahrenheit here in Macon now, but just 54 degrees Fahrenheit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tonight is forecasted togo down as low as 44 degrees Fahrenheit up there in Pittsburgh. Next week may go down further, perhaps as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit in the Steel city.

Cold as that is, these Mourning Cloak butterflies continue to be seen, well into November. Imagine, they may endure nights as cold as 30 degrees Fahrenheit this month, and hours later, when the sun comes out and the air reaches 55 degrees, they can be seen flying, headed to their favorite nutrition, sap leaking from Maple tree trunks, and animal scat (feces AKA ‘poop’).

Know how they can be active in such cold weather, when Monarchs, Admirals, Viceroys, Crescents, Hairstreaks,Satyrs, Azures, Fritillaries, Painted & American Ladys, Swallowtails, Skippers, etc. have disappeared from sight, gone until the Spring?

(Mourning Cloak butterfly resting on Nichol Road trail, Raccoon Creek State Park, Hookstown, Pennsylvania, USA)


A Whole Life of Scanning

Jenny Jean took this photo of me, scanning the bushes, trees and skies. She came highly recommended, a professional photographer charged with capturing images that demo what I do while on those trails, in those meadows and fens . . . how and what I do while on the hunt for butterflies. She’d already shot my greeting cards of Petra and I, the cards I send out each year to friends and associates, Christmas time and when I just want to stay connected with you and with my family. The Petra & Jeff cards are wildly popular, and still hang on I don’t know how many refrigerators and office walls.

This shot here, so sums up what I do these recent years, and what how I’ve managed to survive this long. As a kid in Brooklyn, I had to always be ready, always scan way down the street, scan what’s going on on those Brooklyn corners. In the New York National Guard, I used the scanning techniques they taught us at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, all that preparation for where they said we were headed: Viet Nam. Same went for OCS (Officers Candidate School), scanning the horizon, the trees and tree tops, the sky, the ground for hidden armature. Me, a high school Dean, and a high school Biology teacher in New York City and later in Pittsburgh. My city kids were a handful, and I always scanned, scanned, scanned. When I left teaching for that decade, and managed real estate in NYNYork, life was safer when you scanned those East Village, Chelsea, SoHo, Tribeca, West Village, etc. streets in the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s.

An epiphany that. I’ve spent my whole life preparing for this search for butterflies. I’ve been scanning since I was a little kid. To this day, when I hear a helicopter coming toward me, low in the sky, I began scanning it, only minutes later realizing that it’s not a threat to me, and I’m not toting ordinance.

Scanning has led to many successes, had me seeing tiny or well hidden rare butterflies, when others might have missed seeing them. Scanning has me seeing beauty, and many atime, it was prudent that I not be seen noticing such, ‘though I did.

A whole life of scanning, from the New York City transit systems subways, to this trail, named Nichol Road trail in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, 8 hours west of Times Square, New York, New York.

Scanning is good, good for eye health and good for helping you achieve that goal of goals: survival.