Those Amazing White M’s

White M Hairstreak butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Buckeyes? 4,206. Monarchs? 728. Pearl Crescents? 2,009. Gray Hairstreaks? 265. Erato Heliconians? 1. Cloudless Sulphurs? 433. Northern Pearly-Eyes? 48. Meadow Hairstreaks? 15. I’ll skip down to the  butterfly at hand, the White M Hairstreak butterfly (Parrhasius m-album). In these 24 years of seriously searching for butterflies, I’ve seen 3.

All of the White M’s I’ve seen have been found in Doak field in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. That’s about 8 hours west of New York City.

I’ve been on the lookout for them the entire time, especially when I am working meadows bordered by oak forests. The last one I saw had to have been about 9 or 10 years ago. Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America has them “LR” in their northern range, and that makes some sense, for the range map in that field guide shows Doak field at the very northern limit of their flight. Now that I’m living in Georgia’s Piedmont, he cites them in the U.S. south as “U-C,” Uncommon to Common.

So know that I am going out this 2019, a lot, and when I see strong stands of oak, I time and time again, am going to have White M Hairstreaks way up at the top of my look-to-find mental List, along with Goatweed Leafwings, King’s Hairstreaks, Hessel’s Hairstreaks and Diana Fritillaries, along with side orders of Milbert’s Tortoiseshells and Compton Tortoiseshells.

Hiding Go Seek with Amazing M’s!

Jeff

Tropical Leafwing Butterfly

Tropical leafwing butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Leafwings? I’ve seen three Goatweed Leafwings over these years. I scored not a single image of any of them. In both Mississippi and Southwestern Pennsylvania, I was on trail and a leaf suspended from the trunk of a smallish tree caught me eye. I approached, stared, realized that I was peering at a Goatweed Leafwing butterfly and realized too that I photograph butterflies and How Much I Want An Image Of A Goatweed! During that unfortunate mini-moment, those Goatweeds flew: Vamoose!

Here at the National Butterfly Center’s gardens in Mission, Texas, December 2017, that changed. We saw this Tropical Leafwing (Anaea aidea) on a ‘bait-log,’ smeared with banana, beer and more. She tolerated moments of approach, then flew to this tree limb. I shoot Macro- (Canon ISM 100mm/2.8) and got as close to her as safely possible, and shot, shot, shot.

These are my first images of a Leafwing, and a Tropical at that!

What do you think? Is she is the looker? No?

Jeff