Viceroy Butterfly Adorns Fayette Township’s Kelso Swamp

Viceroy Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, PA

Great images of Viceroy butterflies have long eluded me. Difficult to approach, quick to flee, wary, that’s been the menu for these many years. I jumped at the chance to see Kelso swamp, just 14 or so miles from my home. Traci was right, the beaver-made, pocket swamp was rich with wildlife, and habitat for Viceroys.

Willows are the hostplants of Viceroy butterflies, and sure enough there they were at the swamp.

Why didn’t I make a closer approach? See above for that. What lens was I using? My Canon macro- lens, 100mm/2.8.

Am I happy with this photo? Yep. The white spots are white, the orange is sweet orange, the black veins are strongly black and the black postmodern lines of the hindwing are prominent.

A word about this pocket swamp. It is on private property, and areas nearby have begun to be developed. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy scouts such places, and has conserved many. May they go see this one, and save it for our children . . .

Thanks Traci.


Black-Faced Skimmer

Darner butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Rector, PA, 6/15/05

A fine, beautiful July day in Rector, Pennsylvania. These Laurel Highlands are a destination for Fallingwater, Seven Springs, Bear Run, Ohoipyle, and the legions of the wealthy, who have long ago built their understated manses on generous acreage. Frank Lloyd Wright would have loved this refuge that we view here, rich with wildlife, more than 3,000 acres of it. Its margins gently give way to farmland and gentlemen’s farms, wonderfully ensuring a long, unchallenged future. The patrons of this area do not want change. Good for that.

Of course I was here that entire summer to photograph butterflies . . . But, a spectacular darner, one who actually tolerates my approach, always serves as a siren for me. This Libellula cyanea typified Black-faced skimmers, as it rested just several feet from a healthy pond. This species perches much of the time. Not much to fret about . . . food plentiful, weather excellent, enemies? few, mates? sufficient, community? wealthy, protected and private. Well born, so to speak.

I love darners. Speed, aerial brilliance, agility, reserve, tolerant, and so much more. As I work the edges of their ponds, they zoooom by, honoring my own privacy, and my personal space, never ever stopping to distract me from my work

Unsure of his or her gender, it nevertheless sports those snappy white wing spots, eye-catching abdominal streaks, reminding me of how good I feel when I sport my own favorite suit, laundered white shirt, fine silk tie, freshly polished favorite brown leather shoes (never got over that shining shoes thing in Army basic training . . . )