A Monarch Tale of Woe: this Superstar is damaged. Shoot or Don’t Shoot?

Monarch Butterfly on Tithonia photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

It was getting to be a problem. Here we were in Georgia, at the Butterflies & Blooms at the Briar Patchon my 3rd trip down to this butterfly destination. Good images of Monarch butterflies just weren’t happening. First the USPS delivery of processed slides were stolen by ditzy teenagers from the front of my Pittsburgh home, only to later be found strewn on various lawns along the boulevard that we live on (after days of rain). So my May 2015 images were lost. Then, later, it wasn’t that the Briar Patch doesn’t have Monarchs. They have lots of Monarchs. Problem was that the Monarchs refused to permit good approach. My approach was met with Off it goes!

I got the feeling that folks were looking forward to have a look at the photographic product of all of that time (Glorious time!) spent in the Briar Patch. Set a moniker for 2015 for butterfly enthusiasts east of the Mississippi, and it would be: Year of the Monarchs.

Then one day in August, this stunner came along. My approach? Tolerated. The light available? Just fine. My position vis a vis the butterfly? Good. Set time on the Mexican sunflower head? Good and not rushed.

Something was just not right though. What was it? Oh oh! This butterfly had sustained major bird-struck damage to the right hindwing!! It was a Superstar with a glaring rip in her gown or in his tux. Shoot or don’t shoot?

Virginia, Stanley, Sylbie, Dave and Phil . . .

Jeff

Viceroy Adorns Kelso Swamp

Viceroy Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, PA

Great images of Viceroy butterflies have long eluded me. Difficult to approach, quick to flee, wary, that’s been the menu for these many years. I jumped at the chance to see Kelso swamp, just 14 or so miles from my home. Traci was right, the beaver-made, pocket swamp was rich with wildlife, and habitat for Viceroys.

Willows are the hostplants of Viceroy butterflies, and sure enough there they were at the swamp.

Why didn’t I make a closer approach? See above for that. What lens was I using? My Canon macro- lens, 100mm/2.8.

Am I happy with this photo? Yep. The white spots are white, the orange is sweet orange, the black veins are strongly black and the black postmodern lines of the hindwing are prominent.

A word about this pocket swamp. It is on private property, and areas nearby have begun to be developed. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy scouts such places, and has conserved many. May they go see this one, and save it for our children . . .

Thanks Traci.

Jeff

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.

Jeff