Nifty Eyed Brown

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly Perched on Leaf, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

I’m a big fan of the Satyr butterflies. These last 2 years had me meeting new ones, wonderful ones (Southern Pearly-Eye (Georgia); Creole Pearly-Eye (Georgia); Georgia Satyr (Georgia/Florida); Gemmed Satyr (Georgia)). Those southern brown beauties are among my favorites. I have loved rich browns since those days back in NYNY, when I could stroll Madison Avenue and stop in for a pair of richly brown Johnson & Murphy shoes or into that beloved Stetson Hat stop, and choose among neat Stetsons. Brown/soil/earth connect for me.

Did not see an Eyed Brown butterfly for many years. That was fixed when in the Jamestown Audubon Center’s superb reserve, I spotted this one. Made a very calculated approach. Good. It was very early, the night had been cool, and this Eyed brown wanted the warmth of the early morning sun. This was a close as I could get my macro-lens. Eyes, antennae, eyespots, wing fringes, diagnostic wing lines, all looked just fine.

Satyrodes eurydice adults are not seen on blooms, they prefer alternative sources of nutrition: scat, mud, decaying matter. Like other satyrs, their hostplants are monocots, sedges for example. Eyed browns prefer shade at the edge of trees, and always near wetlands.

Y’all south of Pennsylvania are not ever likely to see Eyed browns. They are a northern butterfly. Solitary, silent, they are there and then they are gone, sort of like what you’d expect of a forward observer or scout, see, take note, report, slip back.


Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly . . . Looking Just Fine!

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

This is the butterfly that prefers the shady forest edge. This is the northeastern butterfly that can be seen on a cloudy, rain-threatened day. This is the one that the corner of your eye spots, just as it flees into the forest. I don’t remember ever seeing a Northern Pearly Eye nectaring on a flower. What do they consume, then? Sap flowing from a tree trunk flow, or the super-rich nutrients from trail . . . scat.

All this makes this a frustrating butterfly, unpredictable on the trail hike, difficult to set out to find, and frustrating when you do see one, you knowing that its almost certain that what you see there will be gone in ¼ of a second. Whoosh! gone.

Know then how exhilarated I was, to meet this one at an acid bog in western New York state. I’ve seen them in New York, in Pennsylvania, in Maryland, in Georgia and in Florida. Right then and there, no doubt was there, that this one was just Fine!

A brushfoot butterfly of the shaded forest. Decorated with sophisticated colors and shades and eyespots, that coax and relax the eyes. Those yellowish rings that encircle those eyespots? Yummy!!


Jeff In The Presence of Royalty

Empress Leila Butterfly at White Tanks Mountains, AZ

Sitting here, happily enjoying the warm air rushing through our HVAC duct vents, the 6F outside vanishes, as I reminisce, sweet memories of my discreet approach to this royal butterfly, Empress Leila. Was this regal Lep a male or female, well, I’m not sure.

We were both in the bed of that Arizona Arroyo, 40 minutes from Sun City West, where I was visiting family. Many know the saying, “Stay too long and you begin to smell like fish.” Seeking to avoid that, I’d leave the house at 6:30 A.M. and search that arroyo for butterflies until about 10 A.M. those March mornings. After 10 A.M. I found it difficult to go any further. Alone, naturally, I blogged some time ago that one of those mornings I almost bought it. Briefly shedding my good sense, I continued seeking winged beauties after 10:30 A.M. and then SUDDENLY, instantaneously I began to lose my senses. Didn’t use the cell that family forces me to carry, and didn’t call for help. D . . b.

So here this Empress Leila was motionless on this rock, and everything was perfect, the sun at my back. Patented approach. He (probably) flew to another rock. I froze, waited. Back to this rock again. I continued to close in. He moved slightly, but held the rock. We came closer and closer. Necessary for macro- work. I’m thinking “Don’t go. Don’t leave.” Here is the image. Blue eyespots on his right hindwing and all.

Close relative to Eastern Brushfoots, an extraordinary opportunity for Jeff to pal around with royalty.


Lasiommata Megara (Mt. Meron)

Lasiommata Megera butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron

Ah, good to be back after celebrating my birthday, Thanksgiving holiday and Chanukah, all on the same 28th of November. Our Satyr butterfly here is enjoying the early morning sun on a trail near the base of Mt. Meron, in northernmost Israel’s Golan.

This was one of many that I saw those several mornings. Most fled as soon as they saw me approach on the trail. This male weighed the option, but no doubt, as all young, muscular males, concluded that he could handle any and all that came his way. So, he remained, the sun’s rays warming and soothing him. His eyespots, dark streaking and panels of tasty golden brown surely identify him as a worthy suitor, for the duller colored, more timid females that we saw.

Years before, we would go one morning here, than the next morning there, as so on. More recently, I’ve decided to schedule several mornings here, and then a couple of mornings there. The results are more satisfying. Then, after numerous successes, you can leave the area, knowing that you have been fortunate to sample many of the butterflies that you came to see…and photograph.

I’m now ⅔ through my read of Wild America (Fisher & Peterson, 1955). Thank you Robert Michael Pyle, for acquainting me with this book. What a read! 100 days of searching for wildlife in  Canada, the U.S. and Mexico in 1953! Oh, have Pyle, Fisher & Peterson wet my appetite for busting out in 2014!!! What do I lack…? Friends to guide me to Diana’s, Regals, blues, the Keys and Texas without the crowds…. I’m a grown dreamer, I am….


The Sky Blue Eyespots of a Wood Nymph Butterfly

Wood nymph butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Years have passed since I happened onto Wood Nymph butterflies with sky blue eyespots. Those were at Raystown Lake in central Pennsylvania. They were speedsters and hid as soon as approached = no images!

I’ve sought images of Wood Nymph butterflies that are fresh and show sky-blue eyespots.

Not so easy to secure. They prefer trails at forest edges, especially with high grass fields adjacent. The fresh ones are gone in an instant, the worn ones, well they’re no longer striking brown, yellow yellow or baby-blue.

So here we have all of the above.

We haven’t posted an image of this butterfly with its wings fully opened because. they rarely bask in the morning sun and open their wings for nanoseconds at a time. I’ve been on the look-out for Wood Nymphs resting with wings open. Ten years later, I’m still looking.