Success! Georgia Satyr Success!!

Georgia Satyr Butterfly 2 photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

We went back to the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in Florida’s Panhandle in late June. Back to re-meet the Georgia Satyr butterfly. I’d waited years and years to shoot it, and my first trip there found Georgia Satyrs, but . . . I wasn’t satisfied with the images I scored.

This was a tiny, tiny, slow flying butterfly, that always flew close to the Spring Creek Unit’s swamp edge, flew low, and preferred to land close to the ground, with plants stalks hiding it from view. Once you got down to shoot one, 90% of the time it flew, mostly 10 feet away. So, you have to get up, and slowly approach it again, and lower yourself again, and re-adjust to get closer, only . . . . . . to have your Georgia fly again!

All the time you’re down on your ‘belly’ you’re remembering back to your Brooklyn childhood, reminded of times that you had to walk through ‘alien’ streets, keeping your eyes open for trouble. Lying on your belly in the Refuge, you sure were in alien territory again, for ticks were there, and your arrival was cause for celebration for them.

While wondering if you were attracting ticks, the humidity there was serious, and despite the head band across my forehead, the sweat soon began streaming down over my glasses and my eyes! The salt began to reach my eyes, and at times blind me for moments.

This Georgia held still, remained in place, and it was gorgeous, tiny but gorgeous. Why endure the up ‘n down struggle, the ticks and the streams of sweat? I am motivated in part by Ralph Waldo Emersons’s famous Success. I so wanted to share with you a butterfly that you will count as different, unusual, and beautiful. The inimitable Georgia Satyr. This one’s reddish/orange lines? I love them!


Argiope Fills a Lull

Argiope Spider Re-visiting Prey photographed by Jeff Zablow in Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, PA

Squads of butterflies would fly in, sip nectar from flowers, search or reconnoiter. We’re in Traci’s Kelso Swamp on an early September morning, Southwestern Pennsylvania. Minutes later they’d be . . . gone. Gone where? Who knows?

Search as you might, there’d be no butterflies to be seen for some 10 to 15 minutes. That’s when you start noticing the other residents at the swamp’s edge. Most memorable were those Black and Yellow Argiopes, the huge garden spiders that build their webs 2-4 feet across from one plant to another. We had laughed days before, when I reported to blog readers that the web ‘silk’ of Georgia’s southern argiopes tasted exactly like the silk of these Allegheny county spiders.

It is difficult to capture a good photograph of one of these argiopes. This one had ensnared prey on its web. She was headed over to it once again, to feed, tend or check the permanence of this capture. Ok, I had a lull in my wingedbeauty butterfly photography action, and Ms. Argiope was a looker. I could get into a good position for myself. Let’s see what we can do here.

Argiopes are native, handsome, and remind us of the need for preparation, dedication and patience. Much as it pains viewers to see these spiders at their work, it is vital for insect population dynamics.

I saw Star Wars 7, the one that just came out. As I recover from that experience, Argiopes kind of make sense.