Long-Tailed Skipper in the Habitat

Long-Tailed Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

This was what I came for. I travelled from Pittsburgh to the Briar Patch habitat, smack in the middle of beautiful Eatonton, Georgia. This is the butterfly oasis founded by Virginia Cartwright Linch, just 2 years ago. Virginia does not reckon with the word, “no.” The result? A butterfly haven where I have scored my personal best number of butterfly species in one outing. 29 species seen in just one morning at Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch:  29!

I was seeking an opportunity to meet and shoot southern USA butterflies. I noted a post on Facebook, cautiously noted how I’d love to see Georgia’s fliers . . . and quicker than you can say Br’er Rabbit, Virginia wrote back, come here to Eatonton. What a wonderful experience. The last time I was in the south was when young John Reed and I hitched from Fallsburgh to Binghamton, New York (to try to mooch travel money from summer school friends of his), and then connected dozens of rides down to Miami Beach, Florida. We could have been killed 20 times on the trip down. I kid you not.

This 2015 I found the South to be all that they say it is. Warm, friendly, sophisticated, and aware. I could go on and on. That I was kinda different must have been kinda obvious; that I was welcomed everywhere was just as exciting. When my father Jack A”H passed in Dublin, Georgia’s VA Hospice on May 16th, and was buried in the Glenville US Military Cemetery, in the heart of Georgia, I want to again express my sincere appreciation for the warmth and concern of all whom  I encountered. I was in such a deep, sad mood, that I drove from Eatonton to Glenville, wearing my kippah on my head. My brother Stanley was incredulous, asking did I realize that not a soul I might have seen has even seen one of those, let alone any who would wear one? Truth be told either everyone I came into contact with could tell I was burying my WWII vet Dad, or these were really open and accepting folks.

Well, back to this fine butterfly, a Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus Proteus). The males and females vary little in appearance, so I’m not sure which this one is. A southern species, the Long-tailed Skipper sipped nectar from these yellow Lantana blooms for quite some time. This ventral view shows many characteristic features of this butterfly, including long tails and thick body.

Not all that easy to follow, these skippers deny close approach, and an image like this one must necessarily be captured with patience, stealth and a bit of luck.