Rose and Jerry assured me that we’d find one of the most difficult of Southern butterflies, the Southern Pearly-eye butterfly. They inhabit moist, treed lowlands where cane grows. Glassberg in his Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America has Southerns as the most difficult of the Pearly-eye butterflies to locate.
Most difficult is an understatement. We met in the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in central Georgia, U.S.A. and we headed out to what a Park Ranger forewarned me was a risky habitat that harbored mosquitoes that have transmitted diseases to earlier visitors! I’d grown up amidst a host of risks, and learned to live in a world of other risky situations . . . but entering that steamy, super-saturated lowland did make me wonder if the risk was worth it? Every step was a slough through mud that slowed you down to a crawl, the mosquitoes and flies were fierce, trees and limbs were down everywhere, breathing was difficult, the air hot and seemingly low in oxygen . . .
Rose and Jerry seemed undeterred by all of those negatives, they almost bounding through it all. Amazing, I thought.
Here’s one of the Southern Pearly-eye Butterflies that Rose spotted, and talked me over to. They were almost unapproachable, fleeing on my stumbling, noisy approach. No matter that, for here’s a fine, fresh Southern, and after examining it, study the terrain. See what I mean?
Thank G-d I did not contract any of those horrible diseases. Imagine, a habitat that makes you cringe, just thinking of it, yet a habitat that had all 3 of the Pearly-eye species that morning! All 3!!