The Atala and the Ruddy Dangerwing

 Jeff Zablow's Perennial Beds Pittsburgh, PA, 7/10/07

A friend shared her pic today, of a Ruddy Daggerwing on her own Ficus, aka fig plant. I looked, and looked and asked myself, How can a Ruddy Daggerwing be up there in the northeastern USA. Hey, they have been seen in the Dakotas, and they are native to very southern Florida, but New York state? (I’ve never seen a Daggerwing, yet).

That shot a thought across my recollection. The time in this very garden, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was moving through this much missed perennial garden, late on a beautiful morning, when I spotted something resting on the granite slab you see there. I look. I was stunned. Thousands of times poring through my Cech and Tudor Butterflies of the East Coast (Princeton University Press), I’ve long wanted to see an Atala butterfly.  Southern Florida.

I bent down . . . Yep, an Atala butterfly in my Pittsburgh garden. Zero doubt about it. Wwhhaatt! A moment or two later, it was gone.

I checked and I checked and there was the explanation: They will on occasion appear in locales where folks have planted or container-planted Coontie plants. I did not have a Coontie, but someone nearby did.

Turns out the friend on Facebook was no longer living up north, and now resided in Florida. I laughed, no mystery at all, but . . . Totally Exciting, to see a Ruddy in your own yard, on your own fig plant.

So, Floridians, especially those in south Florida, can score a double-header, an Atala and a Ruddy Daggerwing on the same morning, in their own garden. Mamma Mia!


Got There Early to the Party

Skipper on Liatris Blooms photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

The trusty butterfly field guides, and that ‘Destination’ article in NABA’s magazine all forewarned, get to Florida’s Big Bend Wildlife Management Area at certain times, especially during September. Well I was jammed up in September 2015, so necessity was that I’d have to come earlier, at the end of August. All this because certain wildflowers, especially Blazing Stars (Liatris spp.) bloom in September, and they attract, really attract butterflies. I knew this to be true, for in September 2014 a certain Monarch female nectared at my Pittsburgh garden for a whole week, sipping from my Gay Feather plants (AKA Blazing Star).

So I got to the party early, but was ecstatic to see that the Blazing Stars had begun to open their blooms. Too bad, I didn’t have a folding beach chair in my truck, for it was like the checkout line at a popular supermarket. Butterflies lined up to sip and swoon!

Funny I was just thinking that this Byssus Skipper butterfly (Problema Byssus) (Thanks, BAC),  so contradicts the political tone in the U.S. and Europe and beyond. The emphasis is treat all as you would like to be treated, and be welcoming to others, despite how they look or act. Yet with more than 500 posts here on, experience has it that there is a Skipper bias. My posts of Skippers contradicts the political mood about, and that will be reflected by a limited number of Views of this image. Skippers just don’t get the same play as Monarchs, Swallowtails or Parnassians.