Traffic Picked Up in the Perennial Garden Today

Hackberry Emperor Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at

The sun came out today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Traffic picked up in my perennial garden, so much so that there was double and triple parking going on on popular flower hot spots.

Who showed? Red Admirals came and went, sometimes in pairs. They make you feel so acutely sharp, their beaming red bands enabling split second identification. They stopped and sip nectar on  the anise hyssop blooms, our giant zinnias and on the purple and white coneflowers.

Great Spangled Fritillaries also found parking spaces, especially on the common milkweed, called Liatris (white), coneflowers (purple) and briefly on the magnificent ‘ice’ hydrangeas (Thanks to Joe Ambrogio Sr. for suggesting them).

Cabbage white butterflies flew in throughout the day, seemingly males, barely stopping for a sip of any nectar here or there.

Trimming spent giant zinnia blooms rousted a Striped Hairstreak, either from its perch, or from a nectar interlude.

Silver Spotted Skippers showed off their jet propulsion potential, jetting to the milkweed, coneflowers, hydrangea and surely more. Tinier Skippers, no doubt.

Did not spend the day sitting and observing, so I know that additional others have come by, and hopefully, among them Monarchs. When they come, they’ll not find blazingstar blossoms (a huge favorite of theirs in late summer) because . . . well, groundhogs love blazing star leaves and stems, I now know.

Soon to open and bloom? Mexican sunflower (TY VcL), native cardinal flower (Sylvania Natives, Pittsburgh), false dragonhead (Sylvania Natives), monkeyflower (SNatives), chocolate mint, swamp milkweed (TY BAC) and I hope, I hope, this year clethra.

Am preparing to put in 5 sennas, purchased 2 days ago at sylvania natives, to attract yellow/orange butterflies.

The show has begun here, Folks.


Sachem Skipper Butterfly at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge’s Butterfly Garden

Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in  Eastern Neck National Wildlife refuge, MD

On the lookout for Swallowtails, Fritillaries, Vanessa (Red Admirals & Painted Ladies), etc., I was doing what I usually do, avoiding the smaller, quicker and especially difficult to identify Skippers (Hespertinae).

Skippers are of many species, many species that closely resemble one another. Distinct species that have no difficulty identifying their genetic material or mates, but present real challenge to those of us who, field guide in hand, attempt to identify them. Fiery, Black Dash, Sachem, Long Dash, Peck’s or Hobomok? Perry Mason would have too much fun cross examining someone who testified that a Sachem did it!

So unless we are joined by authoritative NABA or Xerces folks, our female here is a Atalopedes CampestrisShe joined me as I worked the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge‘s Butterfly Garden, but didn’t stay long though. My approach interrupted her brief stop to rest. All on a mid-August morning.

Skippers are all about what the yelling is about. Their diversity is real, with hundreds of species of butterflies in the U.S. All, including this one, count. All, including those like this one, must remain here and about.