Winter Elixir

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

She’s decided to just take it easy, amidst the perennials at the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Miracle, in Eatonton, Georgia. It’s just past 8:30 A.M with the sun not yet fiery hot. Yesterday’s nectar haul was chef’s choice, thanks to Virginia and her band of merry volunteers. Those eggs she’s nurturing are not yet ready, and the boys know that she’s already cooked.

Weeks aloft have taken some toll on her wing scales, but she remains a looker, what with those comely white spots shot out from their black margins.

The thing is We cannot see a Monarch butterfly now. The offspring of this one are now safely in central Mexico, high up in fir trees, awaiting the signal that even Our best biologists/molecular biologists do not yet understand.

So, we share this as a winter elixir, a sweet teaser with future implications. Winter will recede, Spring will taker over, and one day in June, Virginia will broadcast far and wide, the . . . Monarchs are back!


Tragic View Now, Scenic Then

Cow photographed by Jeff Zablow on Mt. Hermon, Israel, 6/16/08

The day after Christmas 2016, and selecting an image to post here . . . this extraordinary view stopped me. There I was, on the tippy-top of Mt. Hermon, June 2008 with my guide, Eran Banker. We were there to find and photograph rare butterflies. There are more than 12 species of butterflies found only on the top of Mt. Hermon. So rare that they are found nowhere else in the world.

It was a super! day, and I found and shot several rare butterflies. It was full of excitement, no greater for me than when Eran (IDF-veteran) called me over and showed me a . . . land mine, left over from the 1967 war! I served, but land mines? That chastened me, for hours before his discovery, I was constantly going off the ancient trails made by the cattle of another time!

Today I look at this picture of Elsie the cow, and Syria behind her. The Russians are now there. The Russians. Fully armed, armed to the teeth. That OMG! concerns my beloved Israel!!! Imagine if we have the Russian army and air force at our U.S. border?

Look beyond the lichens on those Mt. Hermon rocks, and the scrubby plants subsisting on the mountain peak . . . for it is reported that as many as 500,000 children, women and men have been murdered down there, in the last 1-2 years. Who amongst us can grip such slaughter of children? women? men? Whole Christian communities, slaughtered, or the lucky ones forced to flee . . . .

The Russian military is down there. ISIL is down there. The Syrian army is down there. Hezbollah is down there, with thousands of rockets (poised). The evil Iranian regular/irregulars are down there. Syrian villages and cities, mostly destroyed are down there.

The United States of America let this happen. Look again at this 2008 view. Why? Why? Why?

Some of you want these butchers to come here, as ‘displaced refugees,’ young, strong, ISIL-trained ‘refugees.’ Do rethink that, please.


Admire Swamp Milkweed?

Swamp Milkweed, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center in New York

Growing at the edge of that Tamarack acid bog, there were this one and another nearby, both standalones. Swamp milkweed, one of our native Asclepias milkweeds. I had to stop and admire.

They sway gracefully in wind, but hold their posture effectively. Once their individual flower buds open, they attract butterflies from great distance. A Great spangled fritillary butterfly flew in during my watch, and it stayed for many minutes, sipping seriously across the flower heads. Sugar, pollen and available proteins, a healthy cocktail for butterfly nourishment and reproductive health.

Just 70′ or so from the ancient bog itself, this swamp milkweed shows no discomfort with the relatively acid environment around it.

We won’t know if Monarch butterflies took nectar here. I hope they did, for it could only have been good Monarch nutrient!


Nifty Eyed Brown

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly Perched on Leaf, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

I’m a big fan of the Satyr butterflies. These last 2 years had me meeting new ones, wonderful ones (Southern Pearly-Eye (Georgia); Creole Pearly-Eye (Georgia); Georgia Satyr (Georgia/Florida); Gemmed Satyr (Georgia)). Those southern brown beauties are among my favorites. I have loved rich browns since those days back in NYNY, when I could stroll Madison Avenue and stop in for a pair of richly brown Johnson & Murphy shoes or into that beloved Stetson Hat stop, and choose among neat Stetsons. Brown/soil/earth connect for me.

Did not see an Eyed Brown butterfly for many years. That was fixed when in the Jamestown Audubon Center’s superb reserve, I spotted this one. Made a very calculated approach. Good. It was very early, the night had been cool, and this Eyed brown wanted the warmth of the early morning sun. This was a close as I could get my macro-lens. Eyes, antennae, eyespots, wing fringes, diagnostic wing lines, all looked just fine.

Satyrodes eurydice adults are not seen on blooms, they prefer alternative sources of nutrition: scat, mud, decaying matter. Like other satyrs, their hostplants are monocots, sedges for example. Eyed browns prefer shade at the edge of trees, and always near wetlands.

Y’all south of Pennsylvania are not ever likely to see Eyed browns. They are a northern butterfly. Solitary, silent, they are there and then they are gone, sort of like what you’d expect of a forward observer or scout, see, take note, report, slip back.


The Official Memorial Day Butterfly . . . My Vote?


Today is Memorial (Decoration) Day 2016. Many of the interactions I’m seeing are very touching and some are tinged with downright sadness. Many have lost loved ones, who fought with their own blood and life to keep us free. They taught us that in PS 244 in Brooklyn. It stuck. My Dad served in WWII. I served in a 155mm artillery unit in the NYARNG.

As my thoughts circle the gravity of this Day, I remember something I often concentrate on when I’m shooting in the field. I remember several times a year that I want to get a better shot of the underside (ventral) of the wings of Red Admiral butterflies. Opps have been elusive, but I am wired to be on the lookout for more and better.

Why? Because that Red, White and Blue that you see here reminds me of our American flag, which I have alway admired. Red Admirals are fast and wary, and I keep seeking to best this image, which must do . . . for now.


NB, This one was nectaring with 100% concentration on Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). This year I have about 40 of those Monarch hostplants in my own garden. It’s easy, and it’s so giving, to butterflies, moths, flies, bees . . . and more.