The Beauty Of An Eyed Brown

Appalachian Brown Butterfly II photographed by Jeff Zablow at Prairie Fen Reserve, Ohio

We scoured Prairie Road Fen, Angela and Barbara Ann for orchids and wildflowers, with me keeping an eye out for butterflies. Near Dayton, Ohio, I was again and again impressed with the richness of Ohio reserves and parks.

They found their orchids, here at Prairie Fen Reserve and almost everywhere else, they with much experience with orchids and near relentless in their pursuit of them.

Me? I was reintroduced to several butterflies of the northeastern USA that are hard to find. This Eyed Brown butterfly was such, one I rarely see over the years. It’s home? Wet meadows.

Once my Fuji slides were returned from Dwayne’s Photo, I was thrilled by this image. Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America cites Eyed Brown’s as “LR-U” at the southern edge of range,” and that made our meeting even more serendipitous. Rare to Uncommon brings a smile, for that 6 hour or so drive west from Pittsburgh, for such moments, made sense, much sense.

Studying the rich play of color on this left hindwing, I think of the subtle beauty it displays, those tiny eyes, shining as little spotlights, the jagged lines that enable us to differentiate this butterfly from the closely related Appalachian Brown butterfly, the rich hues of brown that I’m on record as . . . loving and the good capture of the head, legs and antennae.

The beauty of an eyed brown, a fresh eyed brown.


Monarchs Fly Year After Year and for Thousands of Miles

Monarch butterfly (female, tagged) ovipositing, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

She was fully focused on depositing her eggs on Asclepias plants, milkweeds. The Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton has hundreds of these plants, leaving her with lots of good leaf surface to choose from. Only the best for your Monarch caterpillar eggs, this September 2016.

Those caterpillars that successfully survive will then develop in chrysalises, and then emerge, as adults, female and male. They will feed furiously for a few weeks, and then, having survived all the rigors and dangers of the wild, take wing and ride to warm air currents, to their winter home. The mountains of central Mexico. My drive to Eatonton, Georgia is 693 miles, and Petra and I arrive some 14 hours later.

The flight of this female’s progeny to Mexico just amazes me. Thousand of miles, usually alone or in small group. No GPS, no maps. That tag on her left hindwing promises to provide future understanding, but we’ll have to wait

Year after year, Mexico to Eatonton . . . Eatonton to Mexico. My major? Biology. What do I think as I watch her eclose? I think, Amazing! Who doesn’t?


Cloudless Sulphur at the Briar Patch

Cloudless Sulphur butterfly on tithonia photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

After some 104+ efforts to follow, approach and ‘shoot’ these large Phoebis yellow butterfly Spring-Summer ’16, the frustration continued to build. Shooting our yellow butterflies usually results in disappointing images, due I suppose to the yellow itself, a complex soup of visual light spectrum physical principals, I suppose. Almost all of these exposures were at the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia.

They are so big, so eye-popping, and so numerous in the Briar Patch that I have to consciously control my impulse to keep shooting, shooting and shooting . . . till I get it right. Mostly I am successful in that, remembering the co$t of my Fuji Velvia slide film, Dwayne’s Photo processing and Rewind Memories Scanning.

Back home in chilly Pittsburgh months later, I pitched Oh! too too many into the trash can. This one survived that culling.

She is a fine looking Phoebis sennae, sporting the greenish-yellow wing color and hindwing white spots (2). What she cannot do, is repair that huge missing part of her left hindwing (and forewing). A fighter jet would be grounded in the same situation, happy to have made it safely down. Sweet Phoebis here enjoys no such attention, and continues to fly very well, as I witnessed. No medical centers, PCP’s, Urgent Care offices or local clinics for butterflies. That fly on as able.


Plebejus Eurypilus Euaemon (Protected) (Israel)

Plebejus evrypilus butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

Every minute was precious. On the peak of Mt. Hermon in Israel. My guide, Eran Banker, and I were alone up there, though we later met a German birder and his Israeli guide on our way down from the mountain. Turn here, turn there, no matter which way we turned, butterflies I had never seen before. Nirvana. Jeff in the candy store, ogling the mouth watering choices, this time, with the coin to select and savor.

2008 on the mountain. I said it again. One of those days I will never forget. The kid from Brooklyn, who usually had no coin in his pockets, was now the photographer of butterflies on Hermon. Success by Ralph Waldo Emerson came to mind. Surrounded by beauty, appreciating the beauty and soon sharing that beauty with our followers in 83 countries around the world (The Peoples Republic of China, with its 1.3 billion people, remains still out of range, with not 1 visit in our 2.5 years).

Rare, endangered and elusive butterflies here, then there, then over there. The sky was crystal clear blue, there was only a slight breeze . . . and it was hot, very hot. Eran lugged several liter bottles of water, and we drank often.

Our protected blue here flew to this rock to rest, serendipity! My approach was slow . . . and successful. This blue butterfly flies from May to July. Limited to Mt. Hermon and its slopes. Here you find another example of my sometimes overly positive thinking. Sure I have this image, and it is rare, but won’t I score a better one in ’09 or ’11? So what happened? My next chance to go to the top came in ’12 . . . and it was March and the mountain was covered in snow. No problem, I’ll go up in ’13. ’13 comes, I arrange to go to the peak . . . and War! War! on the Syrian side of the mountain.

I don’t know how many others have photographed this male, but here’s mine. See the missing piece of the left hindwing. Look carefully and you’ll note that the right upper wing surface shows some orange. That helped me determine which of the blues this is.


Turkish Meadow Brown

Turkish Meadow Brown butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron

Working the trails near the peak of Mt. Meron (Israel), I began to set goals. Turkish Meadow Brown butterflies (Maniola telmessia telmessia) were common enough, and almost all of them were fresh and quite ready for the camera lens. As you’ve read so often at, here was another Israeli butterfly that was especially difficult to approach. Among the many wildflowers in bloom on those early June mornings and late afternoons, Common Globe-Thistle (Echinops adenocaulos) were strikingly noticeable, and other worldly looking. They were 100% cooperative, not moving one millionth of a centimeter that morning.

Believe me or not, I thought to myself, “wouldn’t it be wonderful if that elusive Turkish Meadow Brown, a handsome example of the butterflies known as the Satyrs, could be shot while nectaring on these stand-out thistles?”

At some minutes after 10 AM, Bingo! Now, I had to be especially careful, because the built-in light meter of my Canon camera has failed me, so I was on my own.

You see that I found my imagined opportunity. She was sipping nectar, fully focused on the nectar being pumped by the Globe-thistle. Her large forewing “eyes,” look just as I saw them on the mountain, and their sweet yellow rims border an attractive field of orangish-brown. She was an excellent subject, working that flower cluster slowly and methodically. Like Mae West, she communicated, ‘You make no funny moves, and I’ll stick around too’! Unlike Mae, a bit of her left hindwing appears to have gotten too close to an overly interested fan.