Discovering Those Zebras

Zebra heliconian butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

There were summer weeks when I visited Doak field 6 mornings a week. That 100 plus acre field is a gem, set in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. I got to know several trails in the park well, very well. I knew where to spot Mourning Cloaks, Northern Pearly-Eyes, Harvesters, Milbert’s Tortoiseshells, Comptons too. Monarchs, Swallowtails and Coral Hairstreaks. I’d seen a single Goatweed Leafwing there too, and what I don’t doubt was an Orange-barred Sulphur butterfly.

Wingedbeauty.com’s audience continues to grow, but there was a time that it became clear that offering up butterflies found in northeastern USA was becoming limiting, was not going to be enough to satiate my new friends here and around the world. That’s what prompted my first drive, those 700 miles down from Pittsburgh to Virginia’s Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in the town of Eatonton, central Georgia’s Piedmont region, that 2015.

New, amazing new butterflies. The kid from Brooklyn, who grew up watching lions and hyenas on those tiny TV screens, stalking their prey on the African veldt, found his zebras, though they were different zebras, strikingly gorgeous, were those Zebra Heliconian butterflies, first shown to me by Mike in Kathleen, Georgia. They float in the air as the ballerinas did when we had orchestra central seats at the New York City Ballet. Graceful as cannot be believed, you don’t know which is more stunning, their striking coloration or their floating athleticism.

They are show stoppers, necessitating your turning away from Giants, Black Swallowtails and American Ladies when the fly in as they do, unannounced, but show stoppers for sure.

This one was was flying in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. Those wings, that head, thorax and abdomen. Fine work this, No?

Jeff