My Heart Beat Jumps when I see a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Ventral View of a Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly on a Teasel Flowerhead photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Your heart beat jumps when a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly flies in! Mine does. You just never see them in pairs or threes, and do you expect to see one? No. East of the Mississippi River, they are a northern butterfly.

When this one flew in, and set on this Teasel flowerhead, I was so Thankful for being there, being there then. Add to that the Milbert’s slowly worked the Teasel flowers, one by one, methodically. Better yet, it did not flee when I made my long, protected Macro- lens approach. Icing on the tiramisu cake was that the one was . . . gorgeous. Just look at that flash of nourishing orange on the dorsal surface of that right forewing.

I’m humbled by such limited experiences. I expect that few of you have been so fortunate as I’ve been, to have met and spent many minutes with Milbert’s (this one went to several Teasel flowerheads before it flew).

Raccoon Creek State Park, Nichol Road trail, southwestern Pennsylvania, about an 8-hour drive from the Statue of Liberty boat landing.

(Teasel is an alien plant, FYI, although truth be told, many, many butterflies adore its nectar (as do bees, such as the one shown on the far side of the Teasel)).


Monarch Butterfly with a Torn Hole in its Wing

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

One of my most prized images! She is feasting on teasel flowers and she is fine, so fine!

But what’s happened to her right hindwing? Something, some animal has torn a sizable hole in it.

I’ve gone through challenges in my life and had begun bucking myself up for a family health crisis at the time. This photo came to stick in my mind as ‘Life is tough.’

Our monarch butterfly is so exquisite and yet is now no longer near perfect.

Ponder this. How long will it take for our Monarch to repair this wing tear?

Raccoon Creek State Park’s Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly on Milkweed Flowers

Spangle Fritillary butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Isn’t she beautiful? She is busily taking nectar from these milkweed flowers. My experience has been that milkweed and teasel flowers are their most prized food providers.

Great spangled fritillary females are larger than males. They spend less time flying than the males do. Males fly for long, long periods of time, looking, looking for a mate.

The sugars and other foods in the nectar must provide the energy for 20 to 30 minutes of flying. Very impressive.

Those of you lucky enough to have large lots can easily attract lots of butterflies if  you support a small stand of milkweed and teasel.

Those of you who don’t have large lots, make some time and go on a butterfly spotting hike in your local city, county, state or national refuge/park. You’ll see fantastic stuff guaranteed. April, May and June are the best = no nasty biters are about.