The 1,000th Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

Gulf fritillary butterfly on Tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Kathleen, GA

Several hundred. That’s about how many Gulf fritillaries I saw in 2017. The same could be said for 2016 and for 2015. I go all the way back to about 1997, when I saw my first Gulf. I’m in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory smack in the middle of Schenley Park, one of Pittsburgh’s huge city parks. I saw it nectaring on one the cultivars. They were massed in sizable beds. I think that was about 21 years ago.

Jeffrey Glassberg has photos of Gulf’s on the front cover and on the back cover of his hot-selling A Swift Guide To Butterflies of North America. Does that not underline how attention-getting they are?

This year treat me to at least my 1,000th Gulft fritillary. I have a number of nice images stored in my slide cabinet. Am I finished with Gulfs?

I know that’s a “No.” When a Gulf fritillary flies in, my peripheral vision does a 1/500 of a second scan of its freshness, coloration, wing condition and general vigor. That’s the juice of this wingedbeauty post. I do have some fine Gulf Frit images and I am motivated to improve on them, with a fresher Gulf, sporting knockout white spots on the upper forewings. This one has an almost explosive orange hue, silver spots on the lower hindwing reflecting mega photons of sunlight, a handsome head, sporty antennae and all that in good pose on a likable flowerhead.

So as not to embarrass other butterfly species, I can’t say that I go so readily to ‘battle stations ‘ when most butterflies enter my periphery.

This is a stunning beast, the Gulf fritillary. How do you find them? By visiting a good garden nursery, setting passion flowers into your garden, and some weeks later: Your first Gulf! If she is kind enough to lay eggs on your passion vine, Whoopee!

This image was photographed in Kathleen, Georgia, at Mike’s amazing lot.


Those Southern Viceroys

All Decked Out In Rich . . .

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Viceroy butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Our Viceroy butterflies here in Pennsylvania (8 hours west of New York City) are beautiful, elusive butterflies. We don’t see too many of them, they are now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t, and they are only found when 2 conditions are found together, wetlands and willow trees/bushes. No, my slide storage cabinet is not jam-packed with slides of Limenitis archippus. I have not seen as many of them as you would think. They are solitary butterflies and that means that you might see one here, see another later, a distance away there, and that second? Worn and wings bird-struck.

My trips to the U.S. southeast took me to the Land of possibilities. I might possibly find butterflies new to me. That I did: Georgia Satyrs, Giant Swallowtails, Little Metalmarks, Eastern Pygmy Blues, Zebra Heliconians (bold because that was a Kick!!), Juniper Hairstreaks, Cassius Blues, Palamedes Swallowtails, and more.

There was a type I wanted…

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Salute to the Red Admiral

Red Admiral Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

Red Admiral Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

I’ve seen them everywhere I traveled to this 2016. Southwestern Pennsylvania, western New York State, northwestern Pennsylvania, the Maryland Shore (mid-shore and lower shore), the Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia, Rock Hawk in Eatonton, Georgia as well as Monroe, Georgia, Athens Georgia and the fabulous islands of the Georgia coast: Skidaway Island, Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island, and in unforgettable Shellman Bluff, Georgia.

If all works out, I look forward to seeing them in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area near Perry, Florida, the Florida Panhandle.

In this year where much of the USA East has a dearth of butterflies, the Red Admiral has joined me, everywhere I went! Preoccupied with the search, it’s . . . Battle Stations!! when the stark beauty of a red admiral flies in. Another battle ensues, your mind knows you have some wonderful images of them in your slide cabinet, but, but, your heart differs, urging, go ahead, it’s spectacular!

Vanessa atalanta thrills above and below. Below, not shown here, flashes that set of colors that trigger adrenaline flow, red, white and blue one against the other. My mind accelerates back to P.S. 244 in Brooklyn, where the installation of patriotism was fixed in my heart.

I kid you not.


Are Monarch Butterflies being Archived?

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

July 8, 2015 and I have not seen a single Monarch butterfly on the Asclepias Syriaca (common milkweed) in our front yard or our side yard. Not a single leaf of the hundreds show any chewing. Not a Monarch caterpillar can I find. The plants were purchased from Monarch Watch. They are affiliated with the University of Kansas and the plants are lush. One of them has grown to a lofty 7′ tall, with a fine looking flowerhead higher than 6′.

This year reminds of 2014, when I didn’t see them until very late August. Those 2014 Monarchs I saw sipping nectar on my Blazing Stars and on Asclepias Syriaca in Doak field at Raccoon Creek State Park.

It’s July and I have not enjoyed a view like this one in 2015. This photo was taken some years ago at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. We know how this situation gnaws away at us.

Admission? I find myself thinking how fortunate I am to have more than 20 quality images of Monarchs stored in my Neumade slide cabinets. Then I regret even thinking this unthinkable. What if they . . . ?

Ay, if we could round up Peterson, Edwards, Nabokov, and Audubon and get them over to the mucky mucks in Washington, D.C. to do some heavy lobbying. A dreamer am I.