We Gave Up Waiting . . . So We Ask Once Again – Erato Hypothesizing

Erato Heliconian Butterfly on Grass photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

We recently posted this image, of a very rare butterfly seen in the National Butterfly Center (NBC) in Mission, Texas. Seeing this Erato Heliconian butterfly was a Rush! for me, its stark beauty adding to the excitement. It hung around this gully-like area for more than 30 minutes, resting. It did change when it rested, but it did not leave the area you see here.

Several folks saw it, then then left to investigate other places in the NBC. Me? I returned to again enjoy this special treat. Soon after I returned to watch it, the Erato began to fly, and alone, with no one else there, I watched it fly away. How did it fly? It flew in a straight line, some 4-5 feet above the gully path. You could not miss it. All the time it flew those what? 180 feet, those bright red patches shone. There was never a moment when the red could not be seen.

That interested me alot. When cop cars speed to an accident or to a call, their flashing lights shine all the time, can be seen all the time. Same for fire engines, as well as for airplanes taxiing on a runaway. When my wife, late in the 9th month told me that suddenly her contraction were 1-2 minutes apart, that our 4th was coming, coming, I remember speeding through red lights, with our flashing emergency lights going, non-stop.

In that recent post, I urged all to consider this query, and share what they thought. Why did the Erato Heliconian butterfly flash its siren reds 100% of the time it flew?

Pyle, Pavulaan, Kaufman, Lehman, Zirlin, Cech, Tudor, Rickard, Linch, Delestrez, Glassberg, Childs . . . My shout out earned no hypothesis from any, be they expert or enthusiast.

So, again I ask, why do you think those big, bright red patches on the dorsal (upper) wing surface show 100% of the time that the Erato flies?

Jeff . . . Waits

Mobbing the ‘Wall’

People viewing Gold-Bordered hairstreak butterfly at “The Wall,” photographed by Jeff Zablow in Mission, TX

Sure, it’s been 25 years since I began searching for butterflies, in and about Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. 99% of the time I work by myself, and 99.673% of the time I had no one to point me to where to find the butterflies I sought.

I found them when I found them: Harvesters, Meadow Fritillaries, Compton Tortoiseshell, that Gulf Fritillary in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory, those 7 or 8 species of Hairstreaks, that Leonard’s Skipper and the gorgeous Milbert’s Tortoiseshell and that fresh Tawny Emperor.

My friends back a few years ago invited me to join them at Mission, Texas, on a trip to the National Butterfly Center!! That was a trip that I cannot ever forget. I met dozens (DozenS!!!) of new butterflies there, and at the ‘Wall.’ set in and around a lovely home development.

This is the scene there, when someone spotted a very rare butterfly, no doubt visiting from Mexico, Mexico just some 3 or so miles away. Their cell phone network was set afire, and folks kept coming, speeding to this spot and dashing from their cars to not miss the OMG! hairstreak butterfly.

They ALL had long lenses. Me? I shoot with a Macro- lens (Canon 100mm/2.8). They minimally greeted me, stayed grouped as you see here and seemed mesmerized by the rare butterfly, but indifferent to the rare new visitor from Georgia (via Pittsburgh/Long Island/the mean streets of Brooklyn).

True be told. I was told, some minutes later, that when I crouched and robotically approached this bush, that I jeopardized the chance of the dozens who were then on their way there, reduced the chance that the hairstreak would be there for those desperate dozens, the chance to add this one to their life list. Told that I was seen as “Selfish.” Ouch!

I think it’s best for me to revert to what I’ve always been, a lone wolf, searching, seeking, hunting for images of fresh, beautiful and rare butterflies.

There are several of you out there who are Fantastic to work trails with, and I long for renewed field foraging with those best of the best! Barbara Ann, Angela, Mike, Phil, Curt, Rose & Jerry, Dave.

Jeff