Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

The magic of Butterflyweed flowers! When their flowers open in July the morning sun brings a steady procession of butterflies. Swallowtails, Fritillaries, Orange sulphurs, Coral hairstreaks and Monarchs.

Here our heroine is hungrily nectaring and displaying her stunning blue splashes!

After some 2 hours or so of morning sunlight, butterflies do not fly to the Butterflyweed. The last visitors to these flowers are usually very worn and sport heavily damaged wings.

When was the last time that you saw Butterflyweed? Is is a native or an alien wildflower?

What may explain the complete drop-off of butterfly activity at Butterflyweed flowers at mid-morning?


Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Here’s a heart stopper! Not prepared for this one, I was shooting the abundant Monarchs, Orange Sulphurs, Checkered Skippers and others in this bed of tall verbena flowers.

What was that? A butterfly flew at eye-popping speed into the verbena. My eyes and brain registered the flight pattern, wing shape, wing coloration and how it balanced itself on the flowers. A Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly!

That is how exciting it is to see one. A group of women were walking along at the same time and after shooting at least 50 exposures, I quietly greeted them and told them that they were steps away from a butterfly that I’d only seen 3x in 11 years. They liked that, alot.

When your eyes are on plane with the Milbert’s wings, and the sun in at its before- noon position in late summer, it’s as if fire is dancing off of those wings! It’s spectacular. Before you head out to Brazil, Costa Rica or Bolivia, but first make sure you’ve seen such a Milbert’s.

By the way, you can’t tell a Milbert’s where or when to appear and if you photo Macro-, and it’s in a privately owned flower bed, then you are thankful for the opportunity.

If your screen allows, click on the image and examine the trailing ends of its wings for those rich blue spots. Uh Huh?

Why haven’t I seen more than 3 of them since 2000?