National Butterfly Center Monarchs Engaged

Mating Monarchs on Milkweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX
We were working the perennial beds at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas when I happened on this pair of Monarch butterflies, fully coupled. They were on an Asclepias flowering plant.

They were standouts. The largest Monarchs I have ever seen. Big, very big. I’d grown accustomed to seeing Monarchs of one uniform size. These 2 were behemoths, for Monarchs.

Here the male is closest to us. He was a hunk!

The publicity and press for the NBC holds water. This place offers surprise and surprise!

Jeff

‘R’ is For Red Rim Butterfly

Red-rim butterfly at rest photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Our 2nd post of the Red Rim Butterfly. Sure it’s a bit far away, after it was on that bait log in the National Butterfly Center, in Mission, Texas. When it flew from the bait log, it flew into that small tree. The excitement we felt was spontaneous. This butterfly is cited in Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Glassberg, 2017) as “R” for Rare!

So, I moved robotically to the edge of the trail, and leaned over, just inches from the trench that dropped a few feet, and shot photograph after photograph.

Biblis hyperia is an eye-full, just beautiful. No wear, not birdstruck. That red submarginal band on the hind wings! Oh, if only I had such a cape or something like it on the streets of Brooklyn. It would signal: Stay where you are, I’m toxic!

Jeff

Mexican Fritillary Engaged

Mated Mexican fritillary butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

“Almost always a brighter orange-brown than Variegated Fritillary” writes Jeffrey Glassberg about Mexican Frits in his A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Princeton University Press, 2017). This was one of a pair of mated Mexican Fritillaries. The other one remains hidden under those cool wings. We were in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, some 2 miles north of the U.S. – Mexican border.

When I saw them, just some inches above the ground, my friend shared that they were Mexican Fritillaries! That got my attention, for they so look like Variegated fritillaries. Glassberg’s field guide highlighted the difference between the species. Mexican Frits lack much detail in the center of their dorsal hindwings, and they are so much “brighter” than Variegated.

I spent several unforgettable days in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, each day making the acquaintance of many Lifers for me. There were times too, when others in the NBC shared that folks just a little earlier had seen Dingywings and other butterflies that I’ve not ever seen before. No regret there, for I was a Happy Boy! in the LRGValley. I came to see and I saw!

Jeff

Tropical Greenstreak in the Lower Rio Grande Valley

Tropical Greenstreak butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at 'The Wall,' Mission, TX

Again there was excitement in the air, at the ‘Wall’ that forms the entrance to Retama Village in Mission, Texas. An uncommon butterfly, a hairstreak, was nectaring.

Many of you saw the crowd that surrounded this Tropical Greenstreak, in an earlier recent post. Some whispered that even though it was not 100% fresh, it was exciting to finally see one.

This Gossamerwing was very tiny. Once again I went in low and close with a Macro lens and risked who knows what? This Tropical Greenstreak did not flee while I was close to it. It stayed put, and I didn’t have to face the “Lords of Flatbush’s” wrath.

It can be dangerous shooting photographs in a crowd.

Two miles from Mexico, in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Whoda thunk it?

Jeff