American Icons?

Great Spangle Fritillary Butterfly on Coneflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

I think so. When I first visited Adams County, Ohio, Lynx Prairie Reserve treated me to my first wild Coneflower. To that point, a rich lifetime, I had presumed that coneflowers were non-native cultivars. How thrilled I was that morning, to learn that they are 100% American!

Perched on this coneflower, this Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly is another American icon. Glassberg’s Swift Guide to Butterflies has them present in almost all continental US states, except for Arizona, Texas, Mississippi and Florida. This big butterfly is born & bred USA.

This then is an American iconic view, Great Spangled Fritillary perched on Coneflower. I must add that Ohio, where these were seen, has been the most welcoming, giving, sharing of the 48 U.S. states, for I’ve enjoyed more self-less butterfliers and orchid seeking and wildflower lovers there than in any other state I’ve visited. Thanks Angela, Deb, Dave, Flower, Joe and others.

Jeff

Thoughts On Going Back

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

I learned long ago don’t go back. When your life paths go different ways, don’t go back. Move on to other objectives, for this world provides what. hundreds of millions of them, be they people, pursuits or objectives.

It’s gotten very cool here in central Georgia, and butterflies flew here in the backyard just 2 days ago, Checkered skippers, Cloudywings, Carolina satyrs and others. Looking out this window, I admit that I miss the Monarchs that were here 3 days ago, the Palamedes swallowtail seen in October, the squads of Gulfs all over my natives garden and the exciting singletons including: Pipevinve swallowtails, Spicebush swallowtails, Giant swallowtails, Great purple hairstreak, Variegated fritillary, Long-tailed skippers and dozens of others. This garden that I dreamed of, for what? 25 years or more, has been realized. Dozens of host plants enable to to hope that next year, their 2nd year in, will be Gangbusters!

Why ‘gangbusters?’ When (and if?) my treasured Hackberries, Cedars, Hercules Clubs, Hop trees, Native Black Cherries, Asters, Hibiscuses, Coneflowers, Black willows, Spicebush, Pipevines, Hollies, Milkweeds, Clethra, Pussytoes, Mountain Mints, Sassafras, Tulip Poplars, Crotons, Magnolias . . . Yep, there all in, and if they go through this winter OK, OMG!

Where’s this headed Jeff? Well I scoured our Media Library here on wingedbeauty.com, and I saw images I am proud of, images that I knew are fine, for I knew how difficult it was to capture them, and yes, images like this one of a Georgia Satyr butterfly at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle. It was late August, and when I got there, sunny, hot and no wind, it was everything that the article in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of American Butterflies had suggested, loaded with southeastern butterflies.

I was there to expand my bank of good images, and to see new butterflies. Georgia satyrs, “LC” (Locally common) as per Jeff Glassberg in A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America, were at the top of my list. They were there, and that side tram, 2 or 3 to be found. They were very docile, and allowed approach (Macro-).

I had on a fine coat of Off! so mosquitoes did not bother me. But, the humidity was brutal, and the sweat was overrunning my headband, onto my eyes and my glasses. I remember thinking that this was Nuts! I had travelled those 4 and 1/2 hours down from Eatonton, for just these moments, and now . . .  I could barely see clearly. If only Gunga Din was there with me, handing me fresh, dry glasses every 3 minutes.

That, and the built-in light meter in my Canon film camera was not working properly. I think I remember laughing there, what can happen next, a Burma python or 11′ ‘gator appearing from the swamp, just 10 feet away? I was on my belly, and disregarding my father’s teaching: Keep your guard up, protect your face, hold your ground.

So I share this image of the Georgia with you, knowing that only the really in-to-it haver stayed, this far into this blog post. Are there schools of thought for ‘Going back?’

I am stoked for 2019, my own garden lighting me up, and the strong inner push to get back there in April 2019, when that NABA article written by David Harder, Virginia Craig, Dean Jue and Sally Jue noted that Georgia’s fly once again. Florida Fish and Game took my call and they looked forward to Big Bend being workable soon, after that terrible Hurricane several weeks ago.

If you’ve read this far, I owe you a large lollipop, for sure!

Jeff

Traffic Picked Up in the Perennial Garden Today

Hackberry Emperor Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

The sun came out today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Traffic picked up in my perennial garden, so much so that there was double and triple parking going on on popular flower hot spots.

Who showed? Red Admirals came and went, sometimes in pairs. They make you feel so acutely sharp, their beaming red bands enabling split second identification. They stopped and sip nectar on  the anise hyssop blooms, our giant zinnias and on the purple and white coneflowers.

Great Spangled Fritillaries also found parking spaces, especially on the common milkweed, called Liatris (white), coneflowers (purple) and briefly on the magnificent ‘ice’ hydrangeas (Thanks to Joe Ambrogio Sr. for suggesting them).

Cabbage white butterflies flew in throughout the day, seemingly males, barely stopping for a sip of any nectar here or there.

Trimming spent giant zinnia blooms rousted a Striped Hairstreak, either from its perch, or from a nectar interlude.

Silver Spotted Skippers showed off their jet propulsion potential, jetting to the milkweed, coneflowers, hydrangea and surely more. Tinier Skippers, no doubt.

Did not spend the day sitting and observing, so I know that additional others have come by, and hopefully, among them Monarchs. When they come, they’ll not find blazingstar blossoms (a huge favorite of theirs in late summer) because . . . well, groundhogs love blazing star leaves and stems, I now know.

Soon to open and bloom? Mexican sunflower (TY VcL), native cardinal flower (Sylvania Natives, Pittsburgh), false dragonhead (Sylvania Natives), monkeyflower (SNatives), chocolate mint, swamp milkweed (TY BAC) and I hope, I hope, this year clethra.

Am preparing to put in 5 sennas, purchased 2 days ago at sylvania natives, to attract yellow/orange butterflies.

The show has begun here, Folks.

Jeff

Buckeye Butterfly

Buckeye butterfly photographed at Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA

When a fresh Buckeye butterfly appears your eyes immediately lock on it. Those spots! Those chevrons! There’s a mix of eyespots, lines, and patterns. I enjoy spotting Buckeyes and this one was nice, very nice. Zinnias were prepared to share their nectar and this Buckeye was in the middle of a good-sized bed of zinnias.

Buckeyes are not seen everywhere, so if you want to find one a good place to look is a perennial garden loaded with zinnias, coneflowers, marigolds, sunflowers, salvias and hyssops.

When they’re not feeding Buckeyes speed away when you approach them, but usually land 10 feet away. When you approach them again, and then again they’re now 10 feet away.

Do you see the challenge?

Jeffrey