Red-Spotted Purple . . . Seeking R-E-S-P-E-C-T

On A Beauty Scale Of 1 To 10 . . . with 10 Being . . . ?

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Red-Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 7/26/07

Don’t know why it is so difficult, although on the other hand, approaching Limenitis arthemis astyanax usually is fruitless, as they flee, just as you’ve gotten into position to click your shutter button. In this instance, our Red-spotted purple feels assured that it is 100% hidden from me, enabling me to set myself and shoot away.

Here at Raccoon Creek State Park, 35 minutes west of Pittsburgh (once the steel capitol of the world), they usually are first seen in June. They are not familiar to most people who encounter them. They almost never are seen nectaring on flowers. The females try to stay away from biggies like humans, and the males are most often seen taking moisture on trails. Watching hikers and strollers approaching these butterflies on a trail is fascinating. As they approach the Red-spotted purple, Average Hiker/Naturalist’s LOUD footsteps (vibrating through the substrate) trigger quick flight…

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2017’s Closing Weeks for Leps

Little wood satyr butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

The 2nd week of October 2017, here in the USA (our audience has grown across several continents). Butterflies continue to be met, but we all are counting the days, until 1) they fly south (Monarchs, Painted Ladies) 2) Their chrysalises and caterpillars move into the leaf litter and endure the winter there (fritillaries and skippers) 3) Search for and find crevices in tree trunks and suitable spaces under your wooden back deck (Mourning cloaks).

2017 has been a fine year for butterflies. Monarchs showed up, Zebra heliconians delighted us as they pushed their northern boundary northward and Goatweed leafwings made more appearances than usual.

Me? I’m very, very much looking forward to 2018. The Briar Patch Butterflies and Blooms Habitat comes alive in its new, larger site in Eatonton, Georgia. Israel? The peak of Mt. Hermon in Israel, would be a return for me to those super rare Middle Eastern Holyland butterflies. Texas? Vancouver Island? My return to Angela’s Adams County, Ohio summer wonderland of butterflies, wildflowers and orchids? Ontario?

I’m blessed to be able to continue heading up mountains, into mucky swamp, through rich prairies and into that amazing Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat. Then too will I finally meet Kathryn, Lois, Peggy, Marcie, Joanne, Roger, Holly and Katarzyna? Dare I dream of rendezvous with new friends in Australia, the Netherlands, Poland and India?

2018? Oh, please reward us, me and all those who go out to score images of sheer beauty!

Jeff

Red-Spotted Purple . . . Seeking R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Red-Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 7/26/07

Don’t know why it is so difficult, although on the other hand, approaching Limenitis arthemis astyanax usually is fruitless, as they flee, just as you’ve gotten into position to click your shutter button. In this instance, our Red-spotted purple feels assured that it is 100% hidden from me, enabling me to set myself and shoot away.

Here at Raccoon Creek State Park, 35 minutes west of Pittsburgh (once the steel capitol of the world), they usually are first seen in June. They are not familiar to most people who encounter them. They almost never are seen nectaring on flowers. The females try to stay away from biggies like humans, and the males are most often seen taking moisture on trails. Watching hikers and strollers approaching these butterflies on a trail is fascinating. As they approach the Red-spotted purple, Average Hiker/Naturalist’s LOUD footsteps (vibrating through the substrate) trigger quick flight, and the butterfly usually flies low along the ground, some 20 feet or so uptrail. AH/Naturalist barely takes note of what has happened, and almost never follows the butterfly’s actions.

I used to marvel over the Why? of this. Why don’t most people lock in on such a butterfly, and track its behavior? By now I’ve read many books written by a variety of butterfly enthusiasts, and I now am resigned to . . . that’s just the way it is. Most people don’t center their attention upon our winged beauties.

For the record, a fresh, color resplendent Limenitis a. a. is among the most beautiful of all butterflies. This one here begins to support that thought. Wonderfully showing both upper and lower wing surfaces, its reds, oranges, whites, blacks and bluish/purples are spectacular. Years have gone by, and I’ve tried to score that argument with a drop-dead gorgeous image…. This one will suffice for the moment, it begins to transmit that message. Shot with Fuji film, not photo shopped…the colors are, how do say, Laurence? Paula? Revital?

Ah, how few notice the sheer beauty of this local, one of the most attractive in a region full of lovely butterflies. Puzzle over how little recognition, respect our homegrown butterfly enjoys?

NB, How does this butterfly get through this savage winter? As caterpillars, hidden away in the leaf litter covering the forest floor. Gives you a shiver, eh?

Jeff

At – 4 Farenheit, How Can they Survive?

Jeff Zablow and his dog, Petra photographed by Jenny Jean Photography

Just awoke to find out that it is true. Here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the outside temperature is minus 4 degrees Farenheit! Does this frozen blanket of air cover all of the U.S. east of the Mississippi  river? Thankfully, our furnaces continue to keep our home comfortable.

How, how does the wildlife that we love so dearly, survive in this subfreezing weather? With a degree in Biology and a lifetime of reading much of what is available out there, I still struggle to understand how butterflies maintain their spark of life and keep their body parts healthy in this ice ball of an existence. Some are out there as eggs, delicate, teeny tiny eggs, hidden. Other butterflies await Spring in  their chrysalis or as caterpillars, in the leaf litter in your yard or at the edge of your tree line. Mourning cloaks and others remain hidden in holes and openings in trees. All of these timeless strategies confront – 4 Farenheit. How? Yes, intellectually I understand how they physiologically adapt (glycerols, etc.) but at the same time, it is near impossible to . . .

February is days away. That encourages me enormously. February 26th is my target day, for you see I have noticed that  for many a year, February 26th is the day that we here in northeastern U.S., first notice that the snowdrops have opened, and almost within minutes, the sweet, sweet crocuses will be opening too. Good, good.

Will I get to Afton, the Keys, Mt. Meron, Sandy Hook and Karner in 2014? Ahh to dream-

Jeff

Great Spangled Fritillary

Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Umm! I’m overdue. Our 2 shih tzus and black russian need to go out for their walks. But out the window its dull, gray, slushy and slippery. So I’m putting it off until they signal, now or never! Opening this image in our queue: Up comes this satisfying shot = Summer! You’ve just got to pause and visually drink it in. Don’t ski, toboggan, sled. Skin on my hands gets really challenged by the below freezing winters of Pittsburgh (No this is my home, so that’s that).

You already know that some of my images aren’t as close-up as others share, but I think our color here is good, real-time, and the plant life shared looks real, and not blah! She is motionless on a gravel trail in Raccoon Creek State Park, one of the many beautiful state parks in western Pennsylvania. That puts us about 400 miles due west, and a little bit south of New York City.

This morning I opened a new Robert Michale Pyle book, and after the last several terrific butterfly reads, this all has begun bringing my blood to a low boil. Look again at this image. How nice it will be to again share the trail with Speyeria cybele. Today is December 9th. Where are they now? They are present in your yards, parks, schoolyards and refuges. Where? They are hidden caterpillars, hidden in the leaf litter. When you watched your neighbor rake up the leaves last month in their large yard . . . good chance they were raking up some potentially eye-catching butterflies (or what would have been butterflies). Man and butterflies . . . sometimes they . . .

It is my hope to travel a bit in 2014, to photograph, and share Regals, Diana’s, butterflies of the Keys, Texas’ much raved about Mission, Tx area, and Newfoundland. If you like, look at our last post. I need your eyes and ears and boots. Thanks.

Jeff