Backwoods Beauty

Appalachian Brown Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Most of our favorite butterflies visit us, in our gardens, parks, roadside botany and fields. Those are the butterflies we know and enjoy. They accept our invite to come and nectar, on our coneflower, zinnias, fruit trees, buddleia and Mexican sunflower.

Show your neighbor/friend a photo you took of a less well known butterfly, and don’t they usually say, “I didn’t know we had these in _____________________ ( pick your state ).”

This is one of those “We have these in Georgia?” butterflies. The Appalachian Brown butterfly. They don’t know or care that you have a spectacular garden full of natives and nectar pumping plants.

This is none of the above, rather it is a Backwood beauty, found in swamps and wet meadows. This immediate one was seen in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in middle Georgia.

I’m long on record that I love subtle browns, Love those ‘eyes’ and being kind of a march to your own drummer guy, appreciate such stand alone self-confidence.

Jeff

One More Beauty? Say . . . A Viceroy?

Viceroy butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Marcie, Laura, Ken, Virginia, Cathy, Deepthi, Lisa, Kenne, Sertac, Bill and so many more have been sharing beautiful butterflies these last weeks. Whatever weather and other stresses surfaces earlier this year, the bounty of fresh, handsome butterflies abounds these last weeks of August and into early September.

Prepping for a very special presentation here in Middle Georgia on October 14th (and joined by Ellen Honeycutt of the Georgia Native Plants Society = anticipate a Wow! program), I reviewed and reviewed my own Media Library, selecting which images I will share (I do hope you join us!)

Permission to add one more beauty? This Viceroy butterfly enabled me, as it took some time to rest on a large Tithonia Mexican Sunflower leaf. We were at Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. All those years of reading those butterfly field guides, reading that the Viceroys of the Southeastern USA sport deeper, luxuriant color, were confirmed again here. My Fuji Velvia film did its job well here. No?

Jeff

2017: Can We Call it the Year of the Zebra?

Zebra Heliconian butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

Facebook was electrified with reports coming from all over Georgia (USA). Zebra Heliconian butterflies! She was born in Georgia, spent her whole life on her family’s land. Now she grows her own gardens. One day, a day in 2017; there she saw something she had not seen in 62 years!! A Zebra Heliconian butterfly, sleek, flying as if they were dancing in the ballet. She was speechless! It was an exhilarating experience, for that kind of unexpected visitor knocks the ho-hum doldrums out of the park!

Joy spread across the state. Everyone quickly boned up on Zebra Heliconians. They certainly arrived from very southern Georgia and Florida. Their hostplants are native passionflowers. They prefer to not venture too far from a nearby wooded edge.

Heliconius charithonia in Georgia again in 2018? A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America(Glassberg, Second Edition, Princeton Press) shares that they “may become established northward during warm weather, then killed off by freezes.”

This photograph was taken in the Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia. It was the month of July 2017. You’re looking at Zebra Heliconian on a robust Tithonia(Mexican sunflower) flowerhead.

Just as nearly all of Georgia cheered for the UGA Bulldogs in the National Championship heartbreaker, surely finding Zebras here in 2018 will evoke countless Thank Y-u’s!!!

Jeff

Amongst the Giants

Giant swallowtail butterfly on tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

Mornings giddily photographing southern and northern butterflies, in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, Georgia, midway between South Carolina and Florida, midway between Atlanta and Savannah, sort of.

I’d seen a Giant Swallowtail in my own Pittsburgh side yard this past September 2015, and that was a Thrill! She was worn, and had some time ago seen her magnificence disappear, scale by scale.

August 2016 here, and I know what I want. I want to shoot Giants and score their rich color, and the deep, warm color of the blooms they are visiting.

There are 3, 4, 5 flying around here, they come, they go. Much mystery surrounds that, but too busy to explore such behavior.

Jeff amongst the Giant Swallowtails, among the largest butterflies found in the United States of America.

So, here is what I want to share, the especially gorgeous coloration of the ventral surface of a Giant’s wing. A fresh, strong, handsome Giant, nectaring atop a lusciously tinted Mexican sunflower  (Tithonia), in one of America’s finest butterfly Habitat. Wings aflutter, yellow, black, burnt orange, baby blues, all the way to that nifty tail. Good. Very good.

Jeff

Gulf Feasting on Tithonia at the Briar Patch

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Lantana Flowers photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

With snow, freezing rain and zero degree temps just weeks ahead, this reminisce at the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch bucks up my excitement for the coming year. The potential for an exciting 2016 is very real. The desire to capture ever more satisfying images of southern butterflies, challenges. That’s among the many motivations that will send me back down those southern highways, G-d willing, to this butterfly oasis, in Eatonton, Georgia.

The first Gulf Fritillary butterfly I ever saw was . . . here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was in the Outdoor Gardens of our Phipps Conservatory, and I could not believe my eyes. That one was hundreds of miles north of its usual range. Later, I would see them intermittently, in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, both in Maryland. Finally they were much more numerous in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, at the South Carolina – Georgia border.

This one here is working a Mexican Sunflower bloom (Tithonia). Most flowers pump nectar for a short time, and then butterflies pass it up. Tithonia is the exception. Butterflies visit and work these flowerheads for hours, I think because the blooms continue to produce the sugary food staple.

The Briar Patch is a butterfly dreamland, shared in several recent posts here. 29 different species in a single morning, is well, Wow!

Jeff