The Non-Nursery Coneflower

Coneflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, Ohio

Like most of you, I’ve planted Coneflower in my garden for what?, decades. If I ever gave this incredible perennial a thought, it was a fleeting one, as in I wonder where this beautiful wildflower comes from? Mexico? Peru? Cuba? Costa Rica? Tanganyika?

You just don’t stop learning . . . never. Imagine shock (not surprise, shock!) when Angela & Barbara Ann & Dave & Joe led me into Lynx Prairie Preserve in Adams County, Ohio?

When I saw this Coneflower there, I wondered. Did someone introduce Chinese Coneflower to the southernmost tip of Ohio, a handful of miles from the Kentucky border?

They patiently told me that Coneflower is a native. It took me days to grasp the irony. I spent decades presuming that Coneflower was introduced from Asia or Europe or South or Central America.

Nope, Virginia, it’s an American native. Not a local Nursery cultivar, native.

Jeff

Hairstreak Euphoria

Red-Banded Hairstreak butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

It never goes away. I expect that I speak for all of us who love and search for butterflies. Whether you arrive at your refuge, meadow, fen, garden or roadside berm, that euphoria that electrifies you when you spot a tiny, tiny Hairstreak butterfly, never lessens.

We stop, verify that it is a Hairstreak, a fresh Hairstreak (the price of film now matters) and as quickly as those years in the field allow, which of the hairstreaks you have found. Me, I best know the hairstreaks of the eastern half of the United States . . . but. I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of these abundant hairstreaks, but others, that count drops to one or two. Or, zero.

This winged beauty is a Red-banded Hairstreak. Fresh, zero bird-struck with gorgeous, rich color including that handsome blue patch and generous red bands.

So many Red-bandeds bear wing damage or extensive wing scale loss. This one, seen at the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton Georgia is a crowd pleaser for sure. When I’ve shot away, those 20 or more exposures, am I able to slowly back away from this shmeksy! gift from G-d, and share my war-up “YES! May well be you heard it, be you in Brooklyn, Dallas, Mission, Seattle, Atlanta, Mishmarot, or Valdosta.

How I love what I do!

Jeff

Green Lynx Spider and Alphabetland

Green Spider on Tithonia photographed by Jeff Zablow at 303 Garden, GA

Never saw such in Pittsburgh. Not in Long Island or Brooklyn. The first one I saw here in Georgia was in my own natives garden. I’ve seen many of those little crab spiders hiding in blooms when out on my butterfly searches, but never had I seen this larger spider.

This Green Lynx Spider so reminds me of growing up, hard and on the streets of Brooklyn. You had to know where you were all the time, and be aware, always aware. I remember when I began seeking little multifamily properties in NYNY. Savvy people, back in the very late 1970’s and early ’80’s urged me to have a good, long look at the East Village in NYNY. Back then it was rough, very rough, with the hint of violence very, very near. Those same people also carefully warned, “Don’t cross Avenue A!” Why? Because beyond that side of ‘A,’ you had better be prepared for . . . anything. I heeded their advice, but did get involved, of course, on the more pacified side of ‘A.’ Today? Alphabetland, as they now call it, became a “HOT” address, and condos there go for $1,000,000 or more. Did I ever see the dark side of that area? Yes, 2 or 3 times, but ‘though in suit and tie, I did enjoy some level of comfort, with long steel in my pants pocket. Realities.

For butterflies, there are uncountable perils, beyond getting whomped on your car’s front grille or your windshield. Blue Jays, Mockingbirds, darners, lizards, snakes, beetles at night and . . . this strikingly beautiful Green Lynx spider, patiently waiting for a butterfly or bee, its attractive green color giving it extra invisibility.

I had one of these lay her eggs in my Mountain Mint, and not long after had a nest of perhaps 50 Green lynx spiderlets (?). I let it be, this is H-s plan.

Jeff

Your Monarch Prediction?

Monarch butterfly (male), photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

Six years into wingedbeauty.com, and we have seen burgeoning interest in Monarch butterflies. More and more us of fret over why we find fewer of them in the east most one-third of the United States.

We read most recently that the populations of Monarch butterflies in those central Mexico conifer forests are seriously down again. I hope that those reports are incorrect, but find myself concerned that another summer and fall will produce fewer Monarch sightings here in western Pennsylvania.

In 2016 I spotted very few in and around Pittsburgh. Happily, I photographed this male in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. There were many Monarchs flying there when I visited in August and again when I returned there in September., Virginia Linch verified that central Georgia enjoyed good Monarch numbers last year.

With 2017 upon us . . . What do you Predict? How numerous do you expect Monarchs to be in your state, your county, and in your own garden?

Jeff

The Official Memorial Day Butterfly . . . My Vote?

ZablowButt_First60-26_Lrge

Today is Memorial (Decoration) Day 2016. Many of the interactions I’m seeing are very touching and some are tinged with downright sadness. Many have lost loved ones, who fought with their own blood and life to keep us free. They taught us that in PS 244 in Brooklyn. It stuck. My Dad served in WWII. I served in a 155mm artillery unit in the NYARNG.

As my thoughts circle the gravity of this Day, I remember something I often concentrate on when I’m shooting in the field. I remember several times a year that I want to get a better shot of the underside (ventral) of the wings of Red Admiral butterflies. Opps have been elusive, but I am wired to be on the lookout for more and better.

Why? Because that Red, White and Blue that you see here reminds me of our American flag, which I have alway admired. Red Admirals are fast and wary, and I keep seeking to best this image, which must do . . . for now.

Jeff

NB, This one was nectaring with 100% concentration on Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). This year I have about 40 of those Monarch hostplants in my own garden. It’s easy, and it’s so giving, to butterflies, moths, flies, bees . . . and more.