Meadow Fritillary? Huh?

Meadow Fritillary Butterfly at Rector, PA

Just today, a FB friend posted an image of a Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly, ID’ing it as a Meadow Fritillary. That reminded me of how fortunate I have been to have seen several Meadow Frits in these many years in the field.

Here’s a male Meadow Fritillary that I met in the reserve of the Powdermill Wildlife Refuge in Rector, Pennsylvania (the Laurel Highlands in central Penna). There was a summer once when I was there almost every morning, ’til a hostile Director told me to not ever come back. Powdermill habitat is rich in wildlife, e.g. that’s where I met my first Eastern Timber Rattlesnake . . .

Meadow Frits are small, fly with dainty grace, just inches above the ground. They appear fragile, with that tiny head, and have those oddly arched wings.

You can understand why folks who encounter them go, ‘Huh?’ Despite Glassberg’s shared “East LC-C” my extensive experience is they are not common and never locally common. Moist meadows and grassy field disappear by the day ( a developer’s dream, no trees to remove ), so you see a Meadow Fritillary, and you have every reason to be pleased . . . “Jackpot.”

Jeff

Why do we marvel at Praying Mantis’ Egg Masses?

Coming Soon, Real Soon . . . .

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Mantid egg case photographed by Jeff Zablow
Who can resist? June 2014, and there in Doak field, in the field, we discover . . . a Praying Mantis (Mantis Religiosa) egg mass. Butterflies are why we’re out there, but, who can resist stopping for a moment to examine this wonder of wonders?

What is inside? Eggs. What is the outside material? A substance produced by the female, that hardens, and . . . and serves many roles, one of them is it repels birds. It discourages birds from eating the eggs within. Impressive.

When it is 0 degrees F in that field in January 2015, those eggs remain viable. Suspended on this twig, the entire egg mass never comes in contact with the snow that covers the field, again and again throughout the winter.

Spring arrives, and the eggs hatch. The tiny mantids chew their way through the outer covering of the egg mass, and grow…

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Vesta Crescent in Mission Texas

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

All those years of enjoying the antics of Pearl Crescents, and that handful of Phaon Crescents that introduced themselves to me in Mississippi, Georgia and Florida didn’t prepare me for this, my first meet-up with a Vesta Crescent.

She was taking a break in the National Butterfly Center, in Mission, Texas. Phaon? Pearl? a gentle mix of closely related Crescents?

I was more than pleased to much later discover that she was a Vesta Crescent. Places that Vesta butterflies call home are in Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico.

Another new butterfly for Jeff, and ongoing acknowledgement that the Cr-ator has been very busy.

Jeff

Adios Empress Leila . . .

Empress Leila Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona

We who travel to find new butterflies, capture, rich, sweet memories. As the years go by, those memories pile onto one another. It’s good to occasionally shake those mental ‘piles,’ and free-up some of the earlier recollections.

Grandma Lehman, my mother-in-law, lived for many years in Sun City West, Arizona. That enormous Del Webb town, for seniors, was just about 30 minutes from White Tank Mountains Regional Park. When we visited Eda, every morning I could, I’d drive to White Tank Mountains, leaving around 6:30 A.M.. The sun is so strong in those beautiful mountains, that working trails in the arroyos had to cease at 10-10:15 A.M.. Stay any later, in those boulder-strewn arroyos, and risk heat stroke/exhaustion and alone as I was, death. An earlier post here describes my brush with death, when I was having so much success working that arroyo, that it Hit Me! without warning. I struggled to get back through the arroyo, and prayed . . . .

Grandma Lehman had a very serious stroke event recently, at age 95. Five and one-half years in a series of German concentration camps, and she is still with us, in a Brooklyn, NY senior home. Hitler? She survived and now has upwards of 30 great grandchildren. Thank G-d our children never will have to know a life where getting your hands on potato peels was something only to dream of. Best keep America strong, No?

With the Arizona house sold, I will surely no longer enjoy this Empress Leila butterfly, a closely related butterfly to several eastern USA butterfly species. We used to meet one another in those very arroyos. I’d see solitary ones perched as here, on sun-baked boulders on the arroyo floor. Approach, it flees, and we continue this until that predictable moment, when the Empress would remain on a boulder, and tolerate my robotic approach. They were fun to pursue, just so long as you keep one eye on the time, or you risk becoming a butterfly photographer memory (for about the last thing I’d do back then was use my cell to call 911 for rescue! Men!!).

Jeff