Eastern Black Beauty

Black Swallowtail butterfly and chrysalis, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch, Eatonton, GA

Early. Its was nice and early when I arrived at the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch. Good things happen when I arrive at prime habitat early. This was just that kind of a day.

I scrutinized the perennial beds for cooping butterflies, still in their night sleep poses. Things were going well, the morning was just right, and the Briar Patch Habitat was delivering nicely.

Then I saw this Eastern Black Swallowtail. Nice, very nice. The oranges shot orange, the blue was eye-soothing, the black was jet black, the white spots on the body beamed white and so much more.

I shot away, and am fond of this image of Papilio polyxenes. More than that, this may be one of the butterflies in the soon to be published Jeff’s Earring series. You are going to want to see that 1 in 1,000,000 share.

The shocker for me, when I got this slide back from Dwayne’s Photo, was . . . this chrysalis. I do not know if this butterfly emerged from it, or if it is still active, TBT I didn’t even notice it as I bombed this beau with many, many exposures.

Jeff just never knows what he’ll find in the field. And that folks, makes the anticipation exponential.

Jeff

Butterflies Don’t Fret

Red Admiral Butterfly on trail, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

Mirrors bedevil so many of us. A look in the mirror, and we are awash in thought. With Hollywood and sports celebrities almost always before our eyes, we look at that mirror, and well think . . . . What will ‘they’ think when they see me looking like this?

Must be that we are among the few critters that fret about appearances. After decades in the bush, I offer this, butterflies don’t fret.

This Red Admiral butterfly must have eclosed some weeks before. A beaut when it left the chrysalis, this view shows significant loss of wing scales, revealing scratches and areas lacking full scale coverage.

But G-d didn’t install mirror anxiety in this brushfoot butterfly, and not a second is wasted, fussing or primping. No need for that anyway, what with these handsome reddish-orange bands and wing margins, white forewing spots and look, see those baby blue spots at the trailing edge of the hindwings and perfect pair of white antennae clubs.

Nope, butterflies don’t fret, they awake, pause to warm up, and fly up to do what butterflies do . . . and that might include enable us to reflect, in our own ‘mirrors.’

Jeff

– 4 Farenheit….How Can they Survive….?

Jeff Zablow and his dog, Petra photographed by Jenny Jean Photography

Just awoke to find out that it is true. Here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the outside temperature is … minus 4 degrees Farenheit! Does this frozen blanket of air cover all of the U.S. east of the Mississippi  river? Thankfully, our furnaces continue to keep our home comfortable.

How, how does the wildlife that we love so dearly, survive in this subfreezing weather? With a degree in Biology and a lifetime of reading much of what is available out there, I still struggle to understand how butterflies maintain their spark of life and keep their body parts healthy in this ice ball of an existence. Some are out there as eggs, delicate, teeny tiny eggs, hidden. Other butterflies await Spring in  their chrysalis or as caterpillars, in the leaf litter in your yard or at the edge of your tree line. Mourning cloaks and others remain hidden in holes and openings in trees. All of these timeless strategies confront – 4 Farenheit. How? Yes, intellectually I understand how they physiologically adapt (glycerols, etc.) … but at the same time, it is near impossible to ….

February is days away. That encourages me enormously. February 26th is my target day, for you see I have noticed that  for many a year, February 26th is the day that we here in northeastern U.S., first notice that the snowdrops have opened, and almost within minutes, the sweet, sweet crocuses will be opening too. Good, good.

Will I get to Afton, the Keys, Mt. Meron, Sandy Hook and Karner in 2014? Ahh to dream….

Jeff

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis

Monarch butterfly chrysalis photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

We hope that you can see the exquisite detail of this Monarch Butterfly chrysalis (pupa).

The craftsmanship of the covering that encases the chrysalis is of the highest caliber. This covering is made of a material named chitin. Chitin is a slightly altered sugar molecule that is especially strong and durable. Amazing…take a sugar molecule, alter it slightly, and it can be used to form a tough cover that can withstand the elements.

What is going on within the chrysalis covering?

What material makes up that white bond that connects the chrysalis to the plant stem that it’s joined to?

How much is known about how the changes taking place inside the chrysalis are controlled?

You’ve probably seen these when you were a child. How much more do you know about them now?

Jeffrey