Why do we marvel at Praying Mantis’ Egg Masses?

Coming Soon, Real Soon . . . .

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Mantid egg case photographed by Jeff Zablow
Who can resist? June 2014, and there in Doak field, in the field, we discover . . . a Praying Mantis (Mantis Religiosa) egg mass. Butterflies are why we’re out there, but, who can resist stopping for a moment to examine this wonder of wonders?

What is inside? Eggs. What is the outside material? A substance produced by the female, that hardens, and . . . and serves many roles, one of them is it repels birds. It discourages birds from eating the eggs within. Impressive.

When it is 0 degrees F in that field in January 2015, those eggs remain viable. Suspended on this twig, the entire egg mass never comes in contact with the snow that covers the field, again and again throughout the winter.

Spring arrives, and the eggs hatch. The tiny mantids chew their way through the outer covering of the egg mass, and grow…

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Busting Your Head to Identify a HolyLand Blue Butterfly

Blue Butterfly ( Ventral View ) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

Not easy to do. I was meticulously scouring the meadows surrounding this small moshav on the slopes of Israel’s Mt. Hermon. Snow on Hermon’s peak, as well as sporadic overflow of conflict at the north base of Hermon (Syrian army, Hezbollah, Iranian fighters, Russian ‘advisors, Syrian ‘rebels,’ US advisors, North Koreans and who knows who else) foreclosed my working the top of this grand mountain.

What was flying in those meadows surrounding Neve Aviv? Mostly blues, coppers, the occasional fritillary and the rare parnassian. April 2017, and Jeff was anxious to find one of those rare blue butterflies that are found on this majestic mountain, at the northereastern border of the HolyLand.

Now the hard part. It’s working with this good enough image to identify which blue we have before us. Just as we are all different, so too are butterflies within the same species different from each other.

Our identification here must be based upon the markings on this individual. The orange spots, the black spots, the marking that we see just inside of the ventral wing margins, the rich blue of the regions close to the body.

Until one of the several Israeli butterfly authorities weigh in, I am, with the single resource before me, A Field Guide To The Butterflies of Israel by Dubi Benyamini, citing this one as Pseudophilotes vicrama astabene. Done.

Jeff

Red’s Unscheduled Stops

Red Admiral butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.comForget making an appointment to meet a Red Admiral butterfly. They just never show up! It’s futile to think that if you at a certain garden or trail, at a certain time, that you’ll meet up. Does not happen.

This is the butterfly of Unscheduled Stops. Seemingly no itinerary, they make fly in and nectar briefly, ‘though most of the time they disregard your blooms, and if do they show, they land on your garden walk, inspect that all  is as it should be, and are soon gone.

When they do make an appearance, experienced butterfly lovers recognize that immediately, what with those bright reddish-orange stripes crossing each forewing. There’s nothing like  them.

Me? Their name, Vanessa has always transfixed me. Vanessa, such a mystical name. Then my mind goes to that actress whom I have no patience for, Vanessa Redgrave, whose politics leave a bad taste in my mouth. Why did she have to get such an otherwise wild name?

I’ve not seen many Red Admirals this 2017. The last one I saw was in Lynx Prairie Preserve, in Adams County, Ohio. Of course I saw it for moments, as it  promptly left, as is their habit, leaving you abruptly, wondering, “What’s the rush?”

Jeff

Saw Him at the Dead Sea

Large Salmon Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Binyamina, Israel

A bust out! butterfly for me, 7,000 miles from my home, there he is, I found this one and some others. The Blue Arab butterfly, Colotis phisadia. Tel Aviv? No. Jerusalem? No. The Mediterranean coast? No. Galilee? No. Golan? No.

To see this unusual ‘white’ butterfly, you had to travel in Israel, to its eastern borders, at the Dead Sea, or to the eastern Sinai desert, where for sure you’d be kidnapped by who knows what terrorist group, or by just as interesting locals.

Me, I took a train from Binyamina, Israel south to Beersheva, then a bus to Ein Gedi. I stayed several days in the SPNI field houses there. I hiked from the field house where I stayed to this Wadi (sizable dry river bed). Along the side of the wadi I found them, Blue Arabs. Sooo difficult to approach, nearly impossible to get a good macro- image, and the sun pouring down hot all the time.

I wanted my own images of the Blue Arab. I had hoped that you’d enjoy seeing a butterfly that is different, and that won’t come to you. You’d have to come to it, in the boiling sun, in wadis far, far from Madison, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, Frewsburg or Silver Spring.

Congrats! for you’ve seen the uncommon Blue Arab butterfly. Other places to see them? Jordan, that Sinai ( again, loaded with terrorists ), and Saudi Arabia.

Jeff

Skippers & That Laugh

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

Skippers are butterflies, and there are folks who authoritatively tell one skipper species from the other. This skipper landed on this grass, just yards from Traci’s Kelso Swamp. They’re pert, meaningful and they’re brown. I value pert, meaningful and brown. Comes the question then. Which of the many small, pert, meaningful, brown skippers is this?

That’s why I laughed when I made the decision to post this image. Here I go again, sort of struggling to ID this perfectly wonderful skipper.

At this time, I think that he or she is a Long Dash skipper (Polites mystic). I base this upon markings, wet habitat and that this slightly worn butterfly could have appeared in August, and continue flying to the day I photographed it; in very early September.

Can you imagine if I had majored in the study of butterflies in a fine university, and met all of those budding butterfly experts early on, and then . . .

Jeff