A long Time Favorite

Praying Mantis on New England Aster photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, Pennsylvania

This endures as a long time Favorite of mine. I was working the edges of the 100+ acre Doak field in Raccoon Creek State Park, and I cam upon a group of Spruce trees. They were young trees, and from their grouping, it appeared that they had been planted at the field’s edge.

There on top of a healthy Spruce was this Chinese Mantis. It was motionless, posing at a fine angle, the sky was deep blue, no breeze, and as I approached and began setting myself to shoot away, it continued to gaze at me! I’m used to gazing at butterflies, moths, spiders and more, but don’t recall much experience with such a subject gazing at me.

This has been a long (very long) time favorite of mine, despite the realization that this is an alien species of Mantis, and has displaced many insect predators these last decades.


A Chance Meeting?

Bronze Copper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, Pennsylvania

Isn’t that how life often unfolds? I was working the Wetland Trail at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. I reached the pond edge, and slowly moved along the shrubs that grew inches from the water. My eyes are trained now to spot things different, butterfly-sized.

There it was! Mama Mia!! The first Bronze Copper butterfly I’d ever seen. Stay calm, Jeff. Slowly prepare to shoot it. I was so excited, for the early morning sun was at my back, there was no breeze and the sky that morning was blue. Glassberg in his A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America has this species as “LR-LU” (Locally Rare – Locally Uncommon).

I’ve only seen one a single time after that, and that was years ago. Was this a chance meeting? After a lifetime of sometimes fighting, living amidst sometimes danger (very), watching helplessly as Frieda A”H slipped away, and those years of carrying long steel on my person, I’ve come to see such a bit differently. Here I am, and I’ve endured much, yet lookee, lookee, I am now sharing A Bronze with you, my Bronze, and a beaut!

For me, a Thank You G-d moment.