Georgia Satyr Butterfly . . . Hold the Trumpets

Georgia Satyr Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

I’m finally there. 150 miles down from Eatonton, Georgia (home of the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch), and add to that the 700 miles drive from Pittsburgh. My first ever trip to meet Florida’s butterflies. I’m in the Florida Panhandle, in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, thanks to NABA’s very pin-point article, under the heading, Destinations.

Now I own quite a few butterfly field guides, and my love affair with U.S. Satyrs has simmered for some time now. If I could score what my goals for this trip were, the top 3 would include: capture images of southern Satyrs that are as good as or more satisfying than those in my field guides. I think I might have been a little cocky, on that score, truth be told.

Well, it was very hot, and very humid. I was acutely sensitive to this strange habitat that was new to me, the Florida swamp. It was not Brooklyn. There might be an alligator, or endangered crocodile. I had been warned (since my work has me stepping into the unknown alot) of snakes new and familiar, and some kinds of ants that are impolite, and chiggers and mosquitoes with OMG! micronaughties. Why not feral dogs and hogs? Well yes, it sort of was my old Brooklyn in the sense that you should always know who is around you, and keep your eyes open.

I met several Georgia Satyrs on the “Old Grade” trail. They flew low, hugged the trail edge.  Whenever I made my macro- approach, they twitched and signaled that any millisecond, if I move even a teensy 1/100 inch, they would flee. In the meantime, the sweat on my head was threatening to flow over the top of my Dick’s headband, and further fog my glasses. I just laughed, because it was so ridiculous.

I was anxious to achieve high quality images of a butterfly I had Never seen before, the Georgia Satyr (Neonympha areolata). I was on my stomach (ticks? ants?), threatened by sweat, with my glasses fogged. There I was, thinking about You and wanting to share really fine images with my readers.

Here we see one of those Georgia Satyrs, a very shy butterfly.  They appear to be loaded with inertia until the moment they decide it’s time to rocket away into the swamp. And I Loved It! Thank You G-d, from a Florida swamp. No drums. No trumpets blaring anew, and never so beautiful an image of a Georgia butterfly.


Human Sacrifice . . .

Gulf Fritillary shot at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR), North Carolina

She is resting along the trail on one of the many dikes at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, in southeastern South Carolina, some 30 minutes drive from Savannah, Georgia. Gulf Fritillary butterfly (Agraulis vanilla), fresh, exquisite and posing contentedly for Jeff. Yes. There is a but a major but here…but, meanwhile, I was being swarmed by dozens (?) of crazed mosquitoes. Our ‘Technique” feature (Have you seen it?) warns of the need to move robotically, slowly, to insure that the butterfly is not frightened and spooked. Hard to do there and then, with my hands lathered in several species of mosquitoes.

Few bites were made. I had sprayed myself with Off! when I arrived at the Refuge. With my jeans securely  tucked into my Red Wing boots, with the aid of blousing garters (Ft. Dix, NJ issue, thanks to the US Army), I sprayed my jeans, front and back, I sprayed the sleeves of my green, long sleeved shirt (LL Bean, cotton), I sprayed my neck, heavily, all around, my ears (exterior only), and the top of my cap (the university that my daughters attended sold a green hat, with just the right green tint to minimize startling butterflies). Yes I sprayed the backs of my hands, reluctantly, but later I was glad that I did. I didn’t spray my faces or forehead. Nor do I apply sun screen to my face, each year causing my dermatologist to give me a good talking to. I don’t apply anything to me face or forehead because…those creams and chemicals soon work down or up into my eyes, causing irritations, and that invariably occurs just as a fantastic butterfly enters my life space!

Many of you may prefer other purchased or home concocted insect repellents. Off! works well for me, very well, in the heavy strengthed aerosol spray can.

So this day I came away lucky, but miffed. I had to stand there and take it from the mini-insect-savages. I would have liked to somehow kapop! them right back, onto their teeny, weeny little backs.

Not the time to discuss, chiggers (Ugh!), biting deer flies (stealth biters!) or horseflies (ambushers, always reminding me of that one that kamikazed me at Black Moshannon State Park in central Pennsylvania).

What have I left out. Never been introduced to fire ants, or africanized bees or….enough,  Let me outta! here!