Love this Butterfly? No. But Why?

Peacock butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

I count 1995 or so as the year that I decided to photograph butterflies. Life had always found me marching to my own drummer, and childhood had seriously taught me to learn the hard lesson of loneliness. Fortunately, I had the tools to make it on the streets of that Brooklyn, and I alway knew I could love, deeply.

Butterflies have occupied my mind and imagination since, and happily, that enthusiasm has not lessened. With Spring around the corner here in middle-Georgia, I spend much time thinking of where, what and which butterflies I would like to meet and re-meet. I’ve learned to reckon with limitation$ and to embrace the realization that I am one beat less than Ansel Adams and his ilk.

These decades have me thinking of Big questions, when I am in the field and when I am like here, at my 27″ iMac screen examining my craft work.

Large among the questions that visit me is this one. Why do I embrace, Love, images of certain butterflies? I easily include here: Coppers, Hairstreaks, Mourning cloak, Tortoiseshells, the Monarch, Common Mestra, Satyrs and the Alpines (though I’ve never seen one)?

I know, intellectually that this White Peacock butterfly, shot in the National Butterfly Center, the one near the border wall, is magnificent. Yet I am not excited when I’ve seen them, there’s no enthusiasm there. Add to that the Yellow butterflies, the White butterflies, the Checkerspots, Crescents, Ladies and the Skippers.

For a guy who has been thinking, deeply, since he was back there a 5-year old. I have not yet teased apart the reason for this ambivalence about this magnificent butterfly, the Peacock. A puzzle that. Yes?

Jeff

Palamedes Pretty

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

I must have dozens of vivid memories of butterflies and where I first met them. Maybe it’s more than a handful of dozens of strong memories of first meet-ups. That Gulf Fritillary in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. A Gulf in Pittsburgh!! Those 2 Harvester Butterflies in Raccoon Creek State Park, Pennsylvania. The Goatweed Leafwing in that same Raccoon Creek State Park. I was so startled to see it on that tree trunk, that I forget to put my camera to work!! The Southern and Creole Pearly-eyes in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. The Zebra Swallowtail butterfly in Mason Neck State Park in Virginia. The Malachite and the Erato Heliconian butterflies in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. A standout first saw was that morning when I came upon the most gorgeous Tawny Emperor ever, again in Raccoon Creek State Park.

This Palamedes was one of the first I’d ever seen, this time in 2016 in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle (northern Florida). They were huge and they adored the thistle seen here. There were many of them. When they’re fresh the black of their wings in brilliant jet black and bedazzles.

I’m booked to return to Big Bend and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in just a few months. I can hardly wait to reunite with Palamedes Swallowtails, Georgia Satyrs, Goatweeds, Great Purple Hairstreaks and all of those Skippers that are so difficult to ID.

Yet another destination this year might be Okefenokee Swamp. Oh, who might I see there? Pretty Palamedes?

Jeff

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Isn’t she spectacular? Nectaring furiously on Joe Pye weed flowers, she paid no attention to my close approach. A summer morning at Raccoon Creek State Park in western Pennsylvania.

This native northeastern shrub is a magnet for swallowtails, skippers and many other butterflies. They bloom in sync with ironweed and thistle, so Papilio glaucus is well provided for.

Those blue splashes on her wings just bedazzle me. No two individuals are alike, so I’m always on the prowl for a beauty like this one.

Question. Why do you suppose it’s been named Tiger Swallowtail?

Visit our other Tiger Swallowtail posts. Compare the wings of this female with the others. Amazing, isn’t it.

Soon to be posted: a male Tiger.

Jeffrey