Variegated Fritillary Butterfly

Variegated Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland

It’s October at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge, Maryland, and we’re looking at eye candy on the wing.  This Euptoieta Claudia would certainly raise the eyebrows of the artisans in the Cartier studios.

He is sipping nectar at the Butterfly Garden at the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, and is treating us with just the right background blooms.

Fritillaries are exquisite when they are young. This male offers the full menu of color and patter for this species: rich orange-brown, yellow central banding on all 4 wings, orange spots surrounded by a black border in forewing cells of each wing, black veins and submarginal black spots.

Their nectar diet is not limited to a single flower. So, these generalists drink nectar from passionflowers, pansies, violets, and a menu of other flowering species.

We’ve posted other Variegated Frits. They are generally intolerant of my approach with a camera. Each of our posted images is the result of many, many attempts to score premium images.

Euptoieta Claudia is best known as a southeastern U.S. species. We have many fritillary species here and in the western United States.  It will be awhile before I have western ones safe and secure in my Neumade cabinet of slides.



Red Admiral Butterfly

Red Admiral Butterfly photographed in Eastern Neck National Wildlife refuge, MD

One of my goals has been to capture a good image of the colorful  ventral (below) wing surface of Vanessa atalanta. Countless slides have been pitched into the trash, because they didn’t reveal the wonderful 3-colors that group together. That red, white and blue bunched together always reminds me of the colors of our American flag.

This August morning, our Vanessa was aggressively nectaring in the lovingly maintained butterfly garden at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the Delmarva Peninsula on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. We saw many Vanessas during our 3-morning trip. Those in this beautiful garden enabled me to approach and they patiently complied. So I shot, shot, shot and am satisfied with what I got. Quite different from the skittish ones here in Pennsylvania.

Just months later I was 1/2 way around the world, photographing butterflies in Binyamina, Israel in December. Israel’s Vanessa atalantas were almost identical to this one. What adaptability! Resiliency!

I must note that I have been very impressed with the opportunities offered by the National Wildlife Refuges that I have visited. Yazoo (MS), Blackwater (MD), Savannah (SC) and Eastern Neck have excellent habitat. All provided knowledgeable staff who were eager to give assistance. A Pleasure.


Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD

One of the most focused nectarers, this Clouldless Sulphur is at work at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland.

She is large for a Sulphur butterfly and it is a bit startling to see this fly in with her not exactly straight path.

Phoebis sennae is said to range well into Pennsylvania. ?. I have … maybe, seen 2, fleetingly, in these last 12 years of field work in western Pennsylvania.

At Blackwater they are regularly seen. What a treat!


American Painted Lady Butterfly

American painted lady butterfly photographed at Black Water National Wildlife Refuge, MD 

Asters are blooms that open late in the growing season. That’s good for American Painted Ladys and many other butterfly species. Why? Because almost all of the other flowers are ………gone by then. Asters and goldenrod flowers become the food suppliers.

They are closely related to a similar species, Painted Ladys.

Ladys fly at top speed when approached. They can be approached when they are nectaring, but you’ve got to do so carefully, for they are very wary.

Vanessa virginiensis here in the eastern U.S. overwinter. That means that adults are now snugly hidden away under tree bark, in holes in trees and probably under your wooden back deck! Other will migrate north in April and May.