Who Invented The Giant?

Giant Swallowtail butterfly on tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

You’re in the Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, some 814 miles from Times Square, New York, New York. Platoons of Cloudless Yellow Sulphurs are everywhere, American Lady’s abound, Sleepy Oranges are anything but, Carolina Satyrs patrol the lower strata, and Swallowtails busily work the tens of thousands of blooms. Spicebush, Black, Tiger and even Pipevine swallowtails are seen. Me, born and raised in brick, mortar and asphalt, I don’t forget to Thank G-d for enabling this and for letting me feast my eyes on it.

Suddenly, those eyes signal, Incoming! What happened? A big, big swallowtail has just flown in, at 10:15-ish. Bigger by a lot. Even bigger than the biggest Eastern Tiger females.

A Giant Swallowtail! It’s a Giant Swallowtail: a Papilio creshphontes. Now, with camera poised, comes the question, “Is it fresh? Does it sadly sport wing damage? No? None?” This determination has to be be in less than a split second, for Giants nectar furiously, and are here one second and gone the next!

I shoot away, for the colors and how they’re set out is indeed dramatic. Virginia did it. She created a beacon for flying winged beauties. 2018 sees the closing of Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, and the opening of a bigger, much more challenging Habitat II.

As I expect, my last exposure finds the Giant almost 100% out of view, just the outer edge of the hindwings tells me that the Giant has decided to move to a new bloom, and it’s never just a Tithonia bloom three feet away, instead you can count on it flying to a new flowerhead, twelve feet away.

I’m left thinking, “Who invented the Giant? Honest?”


Common along the Southern Israeli-Jordanian Border: a Deudorix Livia Butterfly

Deudorix Livia Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Binyamina, Israel

On November 27th, one day away from my Birthday (note the capital ‘B’) I found myself in Binyamina, Israel, staying with family .  That’s always the best. I didn’t rent a car, so on the mornings I wasn’t at Ramat Hanadiv or in the Wadi David at Ein Gedi, I was hiking the agricultural fields. Sometimes I asked the Above for success in my search for the butterflies of the mysterious Middle East. I was in Israel to celebrate the birth of a grandson. Seeing new butterflies in late November was a challenge, and it was the second on my list.

Well, it worked. After photographing Large Salmon Arabs, Small Whites, Clouded Yellows and that yummy! Lesser Fiery Copper, I was ecstatic. My trip to Ein Gedi, to find the exotic Blue-Spotted Arabs was ahead of me. Good. But more fun was awaiting me. Wait a second! What was this tiny fellow that just alighted onto those Camphor yellow blooms? OK! Something new. New!

Shooting slide film has certain disadvantages. After scoring several exposures of this fellow, it did its fighter jet flight. Whissst! Gone! My old NYC cop friends were able to recall critical features of someone with whom they had an encounter with. I’m not sure that I’ve developed that with butterflies. So after concentrating on getting the images, lighting, manual settings, I could barely recall the identification highlights of this guy.

Comes back the slide and here we have a Deudorix Livia. Smile! Common along the southern Israeli-Jordanian border and the eastern and western shores of the Sinai peninsula. It is  much less common in most of Israel. Very good!

This male sports his intact tails and prominent black hindwing spots. A bit of wing damage reveals the hot burnt copper coloration of upper wing surface. It’s a  Hairstreak.

This photograph was among the many successes of that trip. It is consistent with my oft written explanation of Why I continue to enjoy what I do. You can never be sure.

Could this encounter be a birthday gift?