How Was Your Georgia Trip?

Georgia Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch habitat friend, Jeff Zablow and his happy sidekick, Petra taking a moment to enjoy the day. (photo by Virginia C. Linch)

Georgia Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch habitat friend, Jeff Zablow and his happy sidekick, Petra taking a moment to enjoy the day. (photo by Virginia C. Linch)

We’re back from our 9 days in Spring 2016, in Georgia! Petra came along on this one. She loves long drives, and finds each and every rest station stop equally, exciting! That’s 685 or so miles to Eatonton and 685 miles home again to Pittsburgh. She travels well.

We found the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch electrifying, with thousands of butterfly attracting plants pushing up from the soil everywhere. Milkweeds, Paw Paw, Hercules Club, Wafer Ash, Passion Flowers, Fennels, Parsleys, Plantains . . . . all very serious, striving to get ready for the butterflies that they will beckon forward, sometimes from many miles away.

Petra watched appreciatively as volunteers from Ritz Carlton pitched in to to erect a handsome canopy for the April 23rd Earth Day events. From what I hear, it was a Big success.

I slipped away a few days before, to met Phil and his family at Panola Mountain State Park. Panola Mountain is just east of Atlanta. We set out to find Juniper Hairstreaks on rocky granite outcrops, and we did! A lifer for me, these tiny winged beauties are Oh! so pleasing to the eye. Add to that, a rare Lichen grasshopper, and a spider so rare that it lacks a name!

Images will (we hope) follow. Israel, Georgia, and planned trips to Maryland and New York. Virginia’s western mountains? Possibly. The Keys? A man (and his Black Russian pup) can/do dream . . .


Monarchs, Come Home!

Monarch caterpillar photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park
What made me stop here? Well, awaiting my 67 new images, shot in Israel in March of this year, I just reviewed my Media library of images. Had to stop at this one. Why?

Like tens of thousands of you, I have, right this very moment, a spectacular stand of common milkweed (Asclepius Syriaca) in my front garden. It has a very good pedigree, having been nurtured by Monarch Watch.  The plants are 5-footers, and the flower heads are just a day or two away from opening. Lush is the operative word.

Every morning, afternoon and evening I take Petra for her exercise time. We stop, I lean over the fence and examine, looking here and there, just as they taught us to at Fort Dix, New Jersey: Scan, scan, scan.

Not a monarch have I seen here. I saw one much farther north, at the Jamestown Audubon Center in New York some weeks ago, and I saw a couple at the Briar Patch Habitat in beautiful Eatonton, Georgia, last week. But none yet in my native US plants garden or in the adjoining Frick  Park (900 acres+).

Yes I am anxious to see them and watch them eating my milkweed, some of the best Monarch caterpillar food there is. Would seeing their caterpillars excite me? Yuuup!

Monarchs, come home. We need you. Need you to reaffirm that all is good, or almost good.


Chicory Wildflower

Chicory Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Chicory blooms abundantly in the park next to our home, Frick Park, in Pittsburgh. It flourishes where the mower leaves a five-foot border, and then our trees come next. I wait there with Petra, my black russian dog, to  wait to see which butterflies flock to chicory’s beckoning blue, pink, or white blooms. We wait and wait, until Petra signals that she’s had enough!

Cichorium intybus is an aster. I didn’t know that. It didn’t greet the Pilgrims and wasn’t a favorite of Pocahantas because it’s an alien flower, probably from Europe.

Sure we’ve seen butterflies eat nectar from chicory. It remains the equivalent of the out of the way little store around the corner and across the street.  It’s one with limited selections and just not fun to shop in. Chicory blooms are there if butterflies need them, but only if all other blooms are tapped out and empty of sugary brew, the nectar. Bombus pennsylvanicus are less picky, and work these flowers from dawn to dusk.

End of story? Chicory is here to stay, and found in almost all of the United States. Come to think of it, didn’t I spot them in Israel a month ago?