Fatal Metalmark Butterfly

Fatal Metalmark butterfly (2) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Another dividend collected from my late December 2017 trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. When I was shown this tiny metalmark, I was really Happy, so Happy. I met a Little Metalmark butterfly in Shellman Bluff, Georgia in 2016. In June of 2017 I met dozens and dozens of Northern Metalmarks in Adams County, Ohio, just miles from the Kentucky border.

This Fatal Metalmark butterfly is now my 3rd metalmark from Texas, and the southern reaches of New Mexico, Arizona and California.

All the metalmarks I’ve seen are especially small. They all move, fly and rest with much conviction and self-assurance. Have I completed my metalmark campaign? Uh, no. There remain 22 metalmarks found in the 48 U.S. states that I’ve not yet been introduced to.

Any leads?

Jeff

 

 

Waiting For Rare Ones

Aricia Agestis Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

The Coppers were flying, they in good numbers. None were of the 2 rare, protected Copper butterflies known to populate the peak and slopes of Mt. Hermon. That was OK, for the coppers I was seeing in the field surrounding Neve Ativ, though of the common copper species, were, well, fresh. Very fresh. When I caught sight of mating copper pairs, I went into overdrive. Happy, motivated, loaded with Fuji slide film, and yes, Thankful that I was there on the mountain, in the northernmost tip of Israel, April  2017.

Thankful too that the murderous Syrian regulars, Syrian secret cadre, Iranian regular and other murderers, ISIL, Hezbollah, Syrian ‘Rebels’ (whomever there are/were), Russian uniformed and special forces, North Koreans, Hamas, US special forces, Al Qaeda remnants, Pakistanis and more were down on the northern face of Mt. Hermon, planning,  executing and killing one another (though I wish safe missions for our American Special Forces/Opps heroes).  Just that they were not in Israel, threatening the Israeli Jews and Israeli Druze who live in this OMG! lush, water rich Golan region.

My eyes rested their ‘Rare Copper’ search engines . . . but I did not relent another search mode, for I was on the lookout for the rare, equally protected gossamer-winged Aricia Agestis. Mostly the tiny butterflies were there in those fields, and my eyes were scanning the little for minute butterflies with chains of little orange flashes rimming dorsal (upper) forewings and hindwings.

Some 2 hours into that morning, jackpot! There was Aricia, leisurely nectaring on very small, low to the ground blooms. A very nice one, and sweetie. . . approachable. I shot away, and share here the best of what I got. Hadn’t seen Aricia for 2 years, even though I was in Israel’s north in 2016, looking for this sweetiepie. Good. Very good.

There we were there then, Jeff and Aricia, within sight of The Sea of Galilee to the south, were my Chrisitian friends all tell me they plan to visit “someday,” for Aricia surely flew down to there then, surely wasn’t so rare then, and no doubt was also admired then. Imagine that, if you will?

Jeff

What’s This? What’s That?

Wildflower with Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

Driving down Interstate 75 from Georgia to the Florida Panhandle, I was psyched. Florida! I was finally headed to Florida. Trail maps from NABA’s magazine article, and retrieved from Big Bend Wildlife Management Area’s website. Anticipation: Very high. Energy Level: Super-charged. Film? Lots. Hotel? Hampton Inn in  Perry, Florida. Guide/Volunteer Expert? Nope – Alone again, naturally. On a Mission to capture all new images? Absolutely.

Those 4 days at the Spring Unit in Big Bend were all that I had hoped they would be. That forecast of rain, changed to Sunny. Yay!! Sunny and new butterflies and wildflowers everywhere in this coastal swamp.

Now, all new everything is challenging. Take for example this large bloom on the “Old Grade” trail. It was very handsome, and each and every time I approached one of these plants, 2 or 3 skippers would flee. Come minutes later, skippers back at the blooms, and then, gone! Robotic, ultra slow approaches and I was able to shoot these tiny skippers embedded into these large blooms.

What is this wildflower, growing along the edge of the trail, most about 15 feet from the swamp edge? Barbara supplied the ID. It is Pineland hibiscus (Hibiscus aculeatus). What is this tiny skipper? Not sure there either. Who is the photographer? One very Happy Jeff Zablow, Who loved Eatonton and loved Big Bend.

Jeff

Adios Orange Sulphurs?

Orange sulfur Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow a Raccoon Creek State Park, PA. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

Orange sulfur Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow a Raccoon Creek State Park, PA. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

He shot across the expansive fields at Frick Park, here in Pittsburgh. My thought? An Orange Sulphur desperately seeking nectar, on November 11th? Petra didn’t see him. Petra looks for dogs, bikes, people, squirrels and deer, just about in that order. But I . . . oops! there go . . . two other Orange Sulphurs, again males. It was an extraordinary day, a November day, shortly after noon time, with a balmy temperature of 71 degrees F.

So? So the forecast for today promises a high temperature of 46 degrees, and weather.com predicts similar, or lower high temps for the next 9 days.

Orange Sulphurs are sturdily built butterflies, but at the same time, they are wisps of the wind, when their weight and girth are considered. Do they vacate their blood and replace it with anti-freeze like compounds, all done in less than 24 hours? Are they now safely ensconced in tree crevices? I will keep my eyes pealed for Orange Sulphur carcasses when Petra and I walk the park this morning. I don’t expect to find any.

What a fantastic plan, bring teeny, tiny butterflies through harsh winters, for thousands of years, safely taken care of, and . . . ready to fly new generations year after year, with no Help from Washington. What a plan!

Adios Orange Sulphurs!. That’s a fine example of why you and I follow butterflies. The whole thing is Amazing!

Jeff

European Skipper

Skipper Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Well here is another American success story. First noted in Canada, this native of Europe and Asia entered the United States after 1910. As with most Americans and lots of our animals and plants, Thyimelicus lineal lives and populates much of the United States.

They fly from June through August. Our tiny, dainty subject here was resting on a grass stem in mid-June in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Easier to identify than many of the grass skippers, European skippers spend most of their time in grasses in fields and meadows.

They are not the fastest fliers and they fly short distances, close to the ground.

They spend alot of their time nectaring and can be approached.

So here we have a tiny, tiny butterfly that like most of us, traces its origin back across the Atlantic and when first, inadvertently brought to North American, flourished in the rich, bountiful land it found.

A reminder that we can expect an inflow of immigrants to time immemorial. They arrive often with very little and find an abundance of “nectar,” i.e., an opportunity to live, flourish and revel in the fruits of this extraordinary land.

Jeffrey