What Do You Most Want Too See?

Malachite butterfly (4) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

This was the last week of 2018. We flew to San Antonio and drove the rental car to McAllen, Texas. Why? We went to find and photograph rare butterflies of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Texas. Butterflies that you would never see in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, Ohio or Virginia.

This was at the National Butterfly Center, in Mission Texas. Bingo! This Malachite butterfly, that Erato Heliconian (!!!), the Red Rim butterfly, Mexican Bluewing, Tropical Leafwing, the list of new and rare to Very Rare was long, and exciting. So much new, so little same old, same old.

We recently raised the question, do you think that we should travel long and far, or should we avoid those airport terminals, crowds, TSA looking at me (I served) as if I was a potential I don’t know what? The rental car that I treat better than my own (you let me use your car, I treat it like gold) and those many drives through places unfamiliar.

Comes now this question. What would you rather see, hard to score images of butterflies you’ve never seen before, even if those images are sometimes less than ideal OR photos of butterflies that you may have seen before, those well east of the Mississippi River, but photos that capture very fresh, very beautiful individuals?

Than comes the followup questions? Are you happy to see images of butterflies in the HolyLand? I’ve gone to Israel almost every year since 2008. Sometimes I’ve posted an image of a HolyLand butterfly that is really hard to get, only to find tepid feedback from y’all.

I sure hope you read this, and hope that you share.

Jeff

Male Monarch Butterfly

Monarch caterpillar photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

You will always be asked, “How can you tell whether a Monarch Butterfly is a male or a female?” It is asked each and every time I show photographs before groups of adults and children.

It’s August 17th and this butterfly is resting on a Common milkweed leaf (Asclepias Syriaca) at Raccoon Creek State Park in Hookstown,  Pennsylvania.

This powerfully built butterfly demonstrates how to discern the sex of male and female Monarchs. Do you see that black patch on his left hindwing vein? Only males have these scent glands, one on each hindwing. If you see a Monarch and it doesn’t have two black scent patches, it’s a female. If it does have a black scent patch on each hindwing, it’s a male.

2013 has got to be a bummer for male Monarchs. With so few females about in the 48 continental U.S. states, males have more than the usual patrolling to do to find a mate. No time to waste!

Jeff

 

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD

One of the most focused nectarers, this Clouldless Sulphur is at work at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland.

She is large for a Sulphur butterfly and it is a bit startling to see this fly in with her not exactly straight path.

Phoebis sennae is said to range well into Pennsylvania. ? I have seen maybe 2, and fleetingly, in these last 12 years of field work in western Pennsylvania.

At Blackwater they are regularly seen. What a treat!

Jeffrey

Viceroy Butterfly

Viceroy Butterfly at Leroy Percy State Park, MS

Viceroys are butterflies that frustrate. They appear to be a species that should be easy to score an excellent image of . . . but look some people, never seem to photograph well.

This Basilarchia archippus was sipping mineral-rich moisture in Leroy Percy State Park, not too far from Greenville, Mississippi.

Isn’t it tempting to confuse it with another very well-known butterfly, the Monarch? But the black line curving along the hindwing identifies our subject as a Vicery.

The southern Viceroys are noticeably more colorful than those found back home in Pennsylvania.

Southern Viceroys were also more approachable and less apt to exasperate the pursuing photographer.

A wetland butterfly, always found in proximity of water.

Jeffrey