The National Butterfly Center’s Monarch Engagement

Mating Monarchs on Milkweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX
We were working the perennial beds at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas near the border wall. There I happened on this pair of Monarch butterflies, fully coupled. They were on an Asclepias flowering plant.

They were standouts. The largest Monarchs I have ever seen. Big, very big. I’d grown accustomed to seeing Monarchs of one uniform size. These 2 were behemoths, for Monarchs.

Here the male is closest to us. He was a hunk!

The publicity and press for the NBC holds water. This place offers surprise and surprise!


Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Methodically Sipping Morning Nectar at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly ( Black Form) photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Eastern Neck National Wildlife refuge, MD

She is sipping nectar methodically in the morning sun at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Rock Hall, Maryland. August is a bountiful month for butterflies. Wildflowers have ended their effort to produce flowers, but that’s half the story. Other genera of wildflowers have taken over, producing rich loads of sugary/protein-rich mixtures. Papilio glaucus (Dark form) has chosen to fly in from the surrounding Refuge acreage to do her shopping, so to speak in Dave’s full perennial beds.

Those wings. Do they evoke a cape? The form of a Wright brothers early airborne prototype? Are they nearly outsized for her body? If they are outsized, how do they get this butterfly airborne? Have they in fact mimiced the coloration of the toxic-tasting wings of the Pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor)? If they earn predator avoidance, how do/did those birds, reptiles and insects learn this behavior? Are there not dozens of bird species in this same Refuge that would enjoy eating this defenseless butterfly?

Winter here in the U.S. will end soon. Where are these butterflies at this time? Did you know the answer to this puzzler? They overwinter as pupae, hidden in tree hollows, wood piles, and perhaps between the timbers beneath your deck. Lucky you.

If by now you are thinking that has posted another image of this butterfly recently, you’re correct. Just as a jewelry catalog presents different views of gems, we present different views of winged beauties.