Tete a Tete With Baltimores

Baltimore Checkerspot Caterpillar photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

Last year I  captured one of my most favorite images, the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly I met in Jamestown, New York at the fabulous Audubon Center there. That shot was shared here as a post, and enjoyed very heavy traffic. It’s the kind of look that gives me immense satisfaction, knowing that many dozens of you saw it, and some will, maybe, internalize it as their reference Baltimore adult look.

This 2017 we returned back, and this time Jeff, their very valuable Nature specialist, gave us directions to where we were likely to find Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars, that last week in June.

We traced our way to that wetland trail, and amongst a goodly number of Turtlehead plants ( the hostplant of Baltimores ), there they were! Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars.

Determined to cop a good image, I shot away, yep!, with my Fuji ASA 50 slide film.

Here is one of those Baltimore caterpillars. Near bizarre in appearance, and richly colored. Bold and standing out in a deeply green backstage.

I Love such beauty! You?

Jeff

Hanging Your Jewels

Hanging Fruit Basket with Viceroy butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Many of us puzzle over, how can we attract more butterflies to our own garden? We are determined to achieve this goal, and it is so encouraging nowadays, that most of us head straight to . . . the nearest native plants nursery. This is exactly what you should do. Purchase and plant native plants, from your own part of the United States. Head over to a nursery like Night Song Native Plant Nursery in Canton, Georgia or Sylvania Natives, right here in the city of Pittsburgh. Chat with the owners, seek their advice, ask about this choice or that, how to plant, how to prepare your soil. Owners of native nurseries love what they do, and they get A+ for sharing

After one year, your plants will be setting and developing. My first Common Milkweeds, shipped from Monarch Watch in Kansas were just 3-4′ tall year one. I was puzzled. Friends said, expected, wait for year 2. Year two? 7′-8′ milkweeds, busting with flowerheads.

By year 3 your neighbors will be coming along, and admiring, complimenting and gaping at the heavy traffic at your garden beds. You’ll be on your porch, or virtual porch, sipping your favorite, and living your own . . . dream.

At that point, follow Virginia’s suggestion. Do what you see here. Hang a basket of cut, and gently rotting fruit. Best might be if it is about 10′ from your treeline or tree (butterflies like that, to go to to rest, hide or escape). Change the fruit every 2-3 days. Work, but not a whole lot.

I shot this look because of the shmeksy! Viceroy butterfly, at the very right of the basket. A stunning example of a southern Viceroy. I wanted to also  show the Hackberry emperor butterflies that were all over the fruit. I know this basket well, having spent some time precariously leaning in (Macro-lens). Frequent visitors include Tawny emperors, Eastern commas, Red-spotted purples, Question Marks and more.

Hang it. Feed them. Admire them. Smile, for you are fostering such hanging jewels.

Jeff