Sylbie at Lockerly

Sylbie Yon with Blooms photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lockerly Botanical Gardens, Millidgeville, Georgia

Help me count the ways that this photo of Sylbie Yon at Lockerly Arboretum (Millidgeville, Georgia) reminds, us of the rewards earned when we visit arboretums, parks, state parks, state and national forests, nature centers, wildlife management areas, national monuments, nature reserves and our national parks.

This was 2017, and these cultivated orchids were inviting, elegant. Unlike those British TV series, of the days of Victorian elegance, of home that most of us could never have entered at the time, these orchids were there for all, almost bringing you to a swoon, when you, as Sylbie, approach, close and admire the beautiful, soft form.

Last night was the Oscars award night. No, I didn’t. Me? I’d much prefer to spend my time about, hiking, and seeking real beauty, fragile and not in need of 3 hours of makeup, surgery, hair, color and jewelry adornments.


No, I’m Not a Monarch!


Pearl Crescent Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, August 2014

Each day we learn more about animals. Dogs, we are now told, think. Cats do too. Those of us who spend considerable time amongst butterflies often wonder, do they, can they think? Problem solve? Do they flee because of instinct, or do they decide when and if to go?

Butterflies certainly might, if they can reason at all, exasperate, because we lavish so much attention upon Monarchs, Tiger Swallowtails, Coral hairstreaks, Giant Swallowtails, and pay little or no attention to the likes of this stunner, a shmeksy female Pearl Crescent butterfly  (Phyciodes Tharos). She was warming up her wings on a sunny August morning along a trail in Doak Field,  Raccoon Creek State Park, on the western side of Pennsylvania.

If she thinks, then she must puzzle over why she sets there, very attractively lounging on a verdant leaf, while anyone who goes by asks, ‘Hey, have you seen any Monarchs yet this morning?’


Why is it called a Comma Butterfly?

Gray comma butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Sophisticated dots, splashes, chevrons, and oh so much more in this common butterfly of the forest edge. Our state parks, county parks and U.S. refuges and parks all maintain cut paths that meander around forest edges. This is the chosen habitat of this butterfly, the Gray Comma.

A speedster, it another of those butterflies that will allow you to approach within 15 feet and will then fly 20 feet away. When you reappraoch, this routine is repeated. After 2 or 3 more episodes, it’ll fly up into a tree and 5 minutes later it’s back to where it started. Whew!

This one was sunning itself on a leaf at 8:50 A.M., raising its body temperature to the optimum for flight. And its a fast one.

Why has it been named a Comma? Each of the forewings has a whitish mark (below) that reasonably resembles- you guessed it: a comma!

I cannot recall ever having seen one nectaring on a flower. If they don’t drink nectar, how do they get their nutrition?