Ode To Harvesters

Harvester butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

My English profs would be disappointed in me, if they opened this post and found that I no longer remember what an Ode is. What I do recall is that an Ode was often melancholy, written for something missed.

Well I so miss seeing Harvester butterflies. Those tiny gems that startle you when you see a puddle in the middle of a favorite trail, and at the edge of that puddle you see a geometric form, always the first indication that you have seen a butterfly, usually hairstreaks on a leaf or a very tiny skipper or blue butterfly.

I spotted this one on the Nichol Road trail in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. I loved that trail, rich as it was in habitat and butterflies. On that trail I experienced a trifecta, over the years seeing Mourning Cloaks, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell and Compton Tortoiseshell. MY eyes registered something, a triangular shape at a tiny puddle formed. by the rain the night before. What’s that?

I made the most robotic of all approaches, and knew that was something special! I every so carefully got down on my belly (Park vehicles do sometimes use this road!), confirmed Harvester!! and crawled inches closer. Not wanting to spook this Harvester butterfly, I did not make a full approach and I shot away.

The original Pookie, this butterfly is a favorite of field guide writers, for its caterpillar is the only known carnivorous caterpillar in North America.

Ode to Harvesters? Truth be told, I’ve seen 2 of them, on that stretch of trail over the years, I’ve not seen another in some 20 years. Twenty years! I so miss the Rush! when you meet a Harvester.

Jeff

Gray Hairstreak Swoon

Gray Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Federica, Saint Simons Island, GA

This one’s surely near the top of the List. What List? The List of butterflies that still stop you in your tracks, slow you down, and somehow force you to retrace your steps and come gawk at them. Approaching impossible is passing up a handsome Gray Hairstreak Butterfly without doing that, stopping to get closer, have a good look.

Equally difficult to do is take a good look at this, and Not capture a few exposures of it, de$pite the high cost of film and that.

What’s also on my List? Monarchs, Mourning Cloaks, Palamedes Swallowtails, Pipevine Swallowtails, those legions of tiny Carolina Satrys, Viceroys, American Ladies and Silver-Spotted Skipper butterflies.

Glad I am that I stopped to oogle this one, at Ft. Federica on St. Simons Island, that destination suggested by Virginia.

Jeff