What Happens Upon Seeing A Tropical Leafwing?

Tropical leafwing butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

This stuff intrigues me. I remember thinking such for more than a decade, when I worked in Manhattan, New York. A realtor, I was much freer than most, and could leave our office as I wished. As I walked the sidewalks of New York, New York, amidst thousands of people, I’d always wonder about them. Who were they? Who were their parents, and what life experiences contributed to who they were? Always I tried to imagine what they know of the world that I loved, but had little time to visit. That’d be the undeveloped, wild, sylvan world of the undespoiled outdoors.

Now, near a lifetime later, I review our wingedbeauty media library, and images like this one, a fresh, shy Tropical Leafwing butterfly catch my eye. We were at the wooded area in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas near the border wall, and I knew, I knew I was seeing a butterfly that was so very different from those tens of thousands I’d seen before.

Seeing so many butterflies, has broadened my mind, my perspective. My brain has now placed tens of thousands of butterfly images in my brain ‘cubbyholes.’ Add to that the wildflowers, orchids, moths, bees, wasps, ants, beetles, dragonflies, spiders, lizards, snakes, turtles, . . . should have placed birds well before this here . . . how much is stored upstairs in Jeff Zablow?

Sometime soon I will have spent 30 years seeking and locating butterflies and their world. What happens to you and I when we have so rich a trove of cerebral images and experiences?? This puzzle for me intensified recently when Barbara Ann (OBM”) passed away. Her knowledge of orchids was phenomenal and her field experiences and love of orchids and botany, gone. Gone. No one stepped in to become her student/intern/chronicler.

These mysteries? What of them?


Calling All Striped Hairstreaks


I haven’t seen one for years, many years. They fly from Toronto to Northern Florida, but I haven’t seen one for more than a decade, much more than a decade.

Here’s the first Striped Hairstreak that I ever saw, at the Powdermill Refuge  in Rector, near Ligonier, Pennsylvania. I’ll never forget such a beautiful butterfly, it remaining for many minutes, serene and unphased by my Macro- approach.

Glassberg’s Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America describes them as “R-U” (Rare-Uncommon) and after having been banned from Powdermill, I’ve not seen one since. Come to think of it, that is the only place I’ve ever been banned from?

Just moved to the Macon, Georgia(Where Little Richard grew up) and feeling-Striped Hairstreak deprived, we’ve planted 2 Black Cherry trees, their hostplant. Calling all Striped Hairstreaks . . .


‘When You Wish Upon A Star, Makes No Difference . . . ‘

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

Had to be more than a decade, me working that productive Nichol Road trail at Raccoon Creek State Park. That southwestern Pennsylvania trail partly skirted a tiny, always moving creeklet. That’s where I ocassinaly saw Northern Pearly-eye Butterflies.

The trouble was, they almost never allowed me and my trusty Macro- lens to get close enough . . . We who do this have wishes, wishes of butterflies we’d like to photograph, REALLY want to photograph in all their, fresh, healthy glory.

My wish list? Northern Pearly-Eye used to be way at the top of my List. Others? Satyrs, Goatweed Leafwing, Metalmarks, King’s Hairstreaks and Giant Skippers. Oh, and Elfins, lots of Elfins?

When I was working Nichol Road trail, I spotted this spectacular Northern. My approach was especially cautious. I went down in my patented way, down to rest on my left knee pad. Good. I could have begun to serenade, with “When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are, When you wish upon a star, Your dreams come true.”

Our star Northern stay in place, as if posing for me. Magnificent. Beautiful. Incredibly elegant, all these applied. The images? I prize 3 of them, they among my most beloved.

Happy Jeff.