Don’t You Love It When . . .

Banded Hairstreak Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

This tiny Hairstreak butterfly charmed me when I discovered it on a trailside leaf in Doak meadow in Raccoon Creek State Park, southwest Pennsylvania. I knew it was a new one for me, a species of Hairstreak I’d never seen before. Just as good was its calm, unbothered response to my patented robotic approach. When you shoot Macro- you must be close, very close. Closer yet when your subject Hairstreak is as tiny as this.

Glassberg’s Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America revealed this beaut to be a Hickory Hairstreak (Satyrium caryaevorum) and cites it as “R-U” (Rare to Uncommon).

Our new home has 5 hickory trees in front, one of them the much beloved Pignut Hickory. Ach! Hickory Hairstreaks generally fly no further south than north Georgia, so we’ll probably never find one flying at our front door!

Don’t you love it when you’re on that trail, and you see a butterfly you’ve . . . never seen before! With our move to a new home now done (‘cept for lots of unpacking/planting) the coming weeks just energize me, Social Distancing assured, y’all.


Mating Mexican Fritillary Butterflies

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, near the border wall and Mexico

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!