What’s Our Huge Mission, Texas Monarch Doing?

Mating Monarchs on Milkweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Most of you are experienced butterfly photographers. Some of you are folks who have excellent taste and superior interests. All of you know what’s worthwhile.

This Monarch was met in the perennial flower beds of the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. We’re here less than 2 miles from the ever famous Mexican border. Command our male Monarch in English or Mexican Spanish? I’m not sure which he will prefer.

I ask you, what is extra special about this image? What is this male doing? Why is he doing this?


Have You Seen This Regal?

Regal Fritillary Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, Pennsylvania

Watching the Jeopardy College Championship Episodes on TV came to mind as I examined this photograph of a Regal fritillary butterfly, taken on June 10, 2015. Jeopardy often asks their contestants questions about British royalty. I’m impressed that when asked, the college kids responded.

In the United States we don’t have our own royalty. We did better than that with George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln. We do keep an eye out for British royalty. We missed Princess Di and the young gallivanting princes, as well as her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. As far as we know none who frequent wingedbeauty have ever met royalty, have you?

Reduced to a single site east of the Mississippi River, our Regal fritillary butterflies are so few in number, that these Regals have become our own butterfly royalty. This male here, a hunk, lives with his species mates in a very extensive meadow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, guarded and patrolled by the U.S. Armed Forces.

I met this butterfly and many of his royal entourage at the Fort. As expected, I was thrilled to do so. How many of you have been so fortunate? Thank goodness for this military post, and its role in stopping the extirpation of this gorgeous butterfly.

Occasionally, in conversation with other butterfly fans, we ask, as if we were 7-year olds, Why aren’t more people interested in seeing and conserving butterflies? All of us are capable thinkers, and rarely are we able to respond to that one, to our own satisfaction. Such is life . . .


Palamedes Swallowtail in the Panhandle

Palmed Swallowtail Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

It was a joy! A total joy to arrive at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area’s Spring Creek Unit, and be surrounded by a ballet troupe. The dancers? They were Palamedes swallowtail butterflies, all earnest to find nectar. These thistles were the clear choice for sipping nectar.

There were worn ones, bird-struck ones, and butterflies that were missing a “tail.” Most were wary of me, and took off when I came within 15 feet. I was captivated by these butterflies. They are big, graceful fliers, able to gently move their wings, and be 30 feet away in an instant.

A photograph of one. I really, really wanted a fine photograph of one. “Pop, pop, pop, pop,” went the camera, using my Fuji Velvia fine grain slide film with an ASA of 50.

Males and females are similar, leaving us guessing the gender of this particular butterfly. It is indeed a Southern butterfly. It’s a very classy, very large southern butterfly and good company to be with.


Gemmed Satyr . . . Good

Gemmed Satyr Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Hard Labor Creek State Park, Georgia

Phil, Rose and Jerry worked so hard to introduce me to the Satyrs of the Georgia Piedmont. They hustled here and there. Their eagle eyes searched for these rich chocolate butterflies, with their jeweled ‘eyes’ on their wings. Oh, how Happy! was I too have such warm, generous sharing new friends. And tireless? They must have resorted to increments of stored energy! We mucked, hiked and climbed over falling timber, always searching, working the bush so that . . . Jeff can see and photograph. There was no way for me to know how to thank them, ‘though they seemed to reap their own pleasure those mornings.

Here in Hard Labor Creek State Park, Phil’s osprey-level vision roused up this Gemmed Satyr. It flew low and about, and might have been a response to my whispered plea, as it alighted on this leaf. Cyllopsis gemma is a very rare, elusive resident of the southeastern United States.

It’s a Gemmed satyr and is probably a male. It’s a good image, taken at a long-awaited meeting. This is a reminder of an earlier time, when I had the privilege to attend pre-sale exhibitions of Magnificent Jewelry at ‘ and at Sotheby’s New York galleries. So I saw the finest gems, very up close and personal. This butterfly evokes those memories.  They are sweet. They will always be, and that is Good.