Embattled Butterflies Seen?

Regal Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Searching my Media Library of images, I stopped here. A butterfly so endangered, that used to be found from Maine to Florida, and now exists solely in a broad meadow in a Pennsylvania military base. The Regal Fritillary. A Super Rare butterfly.

Just back from a long walk with Petra, I find myself reminiscing. What other superarbutterflies have I met these last two year in the U.S.?

Georgia satyr (Georgia & Florida). Bog Copper (New York State). Creole Pearly-eye (Georgia). Salt Marsh Skipper (Georgia). Little Metalmark (Georgia). Eastern Pygmy Blue (Georgia). Zebra Heliconian (Georgia). Juniper Hairstreak (Georgia). Cassius Blue (Georgia).

Folks ask why I spend so much time traveling to Georgia? The answer to that lies above. Trail savvy Georgians have generously invited me to join them and seek hard to find butterflies, and have gone out of their way to insure that our efforts are successful.

All this whets my appetite for 2017! How much do I look forward to continuing my hunt for embattled butterflies? Spread your hands as far apart as you can. That much! Any tentative objectives? Yep. Georgia. New York. Maine. Ohio & Vancouver Island, Canada.

Missing from my list? North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Florida & New Jersey. Folks in these states may just be too busy to find the time . . . . No matter, ’17 may well be a bust-out year!


Back to Big Bend WMA

Palmed Swallowtail Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

Our trip to Georgia this July to August 2016 was, super duper! ‘Our’ because Petra came along, too. The fieldwork was too much fun! Destinations were Yummy. The Habitat in Eatonton (27 species of butterfly in one morning), Shellman Bluff on the coast, Brunswick, Ga, Skidaway Island (very tony and gated, Thanks Fitz), Jekyll Island, Ga, St. Simon Island (birthplace of Virginia C Linch, founder of the world famous Butterflies & Blooms Habitat, Eatonton), Walton County, Georgia, and the Georgia Botanical Gardens, in Athens, Ga (home of the Bulldogs).

Catching a glimpse of this beaut, was not assured, and if I saw one, it was from some distance, on Skidaway Island. The Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes) is a very big,  strikingly beautiful swallowtail butterfly. Last year I was bedazzled at big Bend Wildlife Management Area on the Florida Panhandle. Four, 4! days spent at Big Bend, surrounded by squadrons of these Palamedes. Not a human in sight all morning, each morning, but not alone, as these winged beauties flew in and out. They hunt for and sip nectar, hard and furiously.

Our plan is to return to Georgia in mid-September, and again make a run down to Big Bend. The tip I got then was that butterflies of all types abound when the Liatris (Gayfeather) is in bloom. Back last year, they just, just began opening, as I was extending my goodbyes to Big Bend. Argh!

The plan is to be back again, with Liatris in Full show! Alone again naturally?  (Petra does not join me in the field. meet her and you will know why).

Stay tuned.



Blue Connections in the HolyLand

Polyomattus Icarus butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

A good thing to see. Healthy Common Blue butterflies locked together on a trail in the Ramat Hanadiv reserve, just a shout and one-half from the baby blue Mediterranean Sea. It was March 2016, and following a moist enough Middle Eastern winter, these Israeli Polyomattus icarus juno butterflies were fulfilling the life’s mission for a normal Blue butterfly: Find a very suitable mate, and generate a new generation of Healthy Common blues.

He on the left, she on the right. Jeff there too, pleased with another boost to a very Good morning on a very productive trail.

Jeff who has completed his teaching, his real estate saga, and who daily Thanks G-d for enabling him to see the beauty, rich color and everyday meaning of this Amazing World.

2017? Anybody?


Byssus Skippers get an A+ for Posing

Skipper on Liatris Blooms photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

I captured another good image of our Byssus Skipper nectaring on Blazing Star, 850 miles south of my Pittsburgh home. If this Byssus appears to be happy, content and focused, you should have been there on ‘Old Grade Trail’ to witness another happy, content and focused being: Me.

That article in NABA’s Magazine, under the Destination title, was a rip for me. As soon as I opened it, earlier this 2015, my mind was riveted = Go Jeff go! I went, during my extended trip to the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch in Eatonton, Georgia. I tell you, I was one happy guy down there, AKA the kid in the candy shop.

I grew blazing star in my home garden in Pittsburgh in 2013-2014. In 2014 a female Monarch spent more than one September week installed there, feasting on that Blazing star (10 plants, 8 of which exceeded 6′ in height). After she migrated away, the deer and/or woodchucks decimated the Blazing star plants, and that ended that. Didn’t replant them, and no deer or woodchucks were harmed.

If and when I return to Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, in the Florida Panhandle (seen in this image) next September, must I navigate those trails alone again?

Jeff . . . reminiscing with Irishman Gilbert O’Sullivan


Georgia’s Skipper Butterflies

Skipper sipping nector photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hard Labor Creek State Park, GA

Georgia was a dreamland for me. After so many years of poking around different states and countries, I longed for finding a person who would take the time to show me habitat, and enable me to find new butterflies. I can share I spent lots of time and miles searching, and getting skunked (ending up with little success). Arriving at Welcome Centers, I would be told that a) The woman at the desk is the Naturalist Ranger or b) No one here has any idea where you might find that particular butterfly in the park, but it should be here!

Georgia was different. Virginia, Sylvie, and Stanley connected me with real people. Imagine that; real, experienced people. Dave, Rose, Jerry and Phil, plus several of Dave’s friends. I began getting calls, offering to help me, meet me and . . .  “Did I have the time to come out and look for . . . ”  OMGoodnes!

We spotted this skipper at Hard Labor Creek State Park, within an hour east of Atlanta. At the time, Park Ranger Phil’s encyclopedic ID-memory shared its name with me, but I don’t take notes when I’m out. Since then Phil reminded me that this is a Clouded Skipper on a Spurred Butterfly Pea.

Hard Labor Creek State Park, rich with wildlife, and richer more with helpful staff.