Rare To Locally Common Gems

Gemmed Satyr Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Hard Labor creek State Park, Georgia

Glassberg’s Glossary explains that the “R-LC” assignment for these Gemmed Satyrs means that these reclusive butterflies are Rare to Locally Common.

I wanted, for decades, to find and shoot Gemmed Satyrs. This southern USA butterfly’s name triggered me, the name did.

Problem was, when a butterfly is designated Rare-Locally Common, it is near impossible to locate. Sure, A Swift Guide to Butterflies writes that their habitat is “grassy moist woods.” Which southern USA state doesn’t have grassy moist woods? They all do.

I learned my lessons the hard way. At one time, I’d set out to find Rare butterflies, driving hours to prospective habitat destinations. Most of the time I got skunked.

Lesson learned. Now, as here, I urge knowledgeable people to help me, and even to meet me at good butterfly target destinations. Proven destinations. That’s how I met this beautiful Gemmed Satyr. Phil met me at Hard Labor Creek Sate Park (Georgia) and he guided me to this shady moderately treed spot. Gemmeds!

Thank you Phil.


Back in Business in 2018

Tarucus Balkanizes butterfly  Near Syrian border, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Golan Heights, Israel

Remember this one? I unashamedly shared that I drove nearly 2 hours down from the Golan, along the Syrian border, to finally captures images of two butterflies that continued to elude me. I relied solely on a field guide map. I did find and shoot Tarucus rosaceus. That was good. I accomplished that goal.

Where, though was Tarucus balkanicus? Like T. rosaceus, T. balkanicus’s range straddled dangerous territory. It is found along the border with Syria and the Israeli border with Jordan, and it is found along Israel’s western border, along the Mediterranean, south of Tel Aviv, and not far from Gaza.

I finally, after much frustration, saw this tiny, tiny fine looking T. balkanicus! I so carefully got down on my stomach (ticks?) and even more carefully crawled closer to its perch on these diminutive flowers.

Jeff, this image is not so hot. Why share? Just as I prepared to shoot away, rain came down!! Hard. This is what I got. It flew. Me? Drenched.

Drive hours, with no one to meet you and definitely show you where to see hard-to-find butterflies, and you run the risk of getting skunked, getting soaked, and wondering why do I do this?

Among my goals this Spring? Meet and shoot Hessel’s Hairstreaks and Elfins; that is to say, several species of Elfins. What do I have to assure me of success? Just field guide maps. Oh, and that determination that only you and I have, determined as we are to see the most beautiful and sometimes the least known of butterflies. And, to occasionally look around, and just Sigh! what with the beauty that surround us.

Dianas later? How does that go? “I’m so . . . . . . and you’re so. . . . . . , this Diana I’ve been told . . . . “ The rest, well I may remember it while out in the field.


Georgia’s Skipper Butterflies

Skipper sipping nector photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hard Labor Creek State Park, GA

Georgia was a dreamland for me. After so many years of poking around different states and countries, I longed for finding a person who would take the time to show me habitat, and enable me to find new butterflies. I can share I spent lots of time and miles searching, and getting skunked (ending up with little success). Arriving at Welcome Centers, I would be told that a) The woman at the desk is the Naturalist Ranger or b) No one here has any idea where you might find that particular butterfly in the park, but it should be here!

Georgia was different. Virginia, Sylvie, and Stanley connected me with real people. Imagine that; real, experienced people. Dave, Rose, Jerry and Phil, plus several of Dave’s friends. I began getting calls, offering to help me, meet me and . . .  “Did I have the time to come out and look for . . . ”  OMGoodnes!

We spotted this skipper at Hard Labor Creek State Park, within an hour east of Atlanta. At the time, Park Ranger Phil’s encyclopedic ID-memory shared its name with me, but I don’t take notes when I’m out. Since then Phil reminded me that this is a Clouded Skipper on a Spurred Butterfly Pea.

Hard Labor Creek State Park, rich with wildlife, and richer more with helpful staff.