“Zebra Swallowtail!”

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly and Edwards Hairstreak on Butterflyweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

You’re out seeking butterflies, and one of you shouts, “Zebra Swallowtail!” All stop what they were doing and respond, “Where?” Comes the question, Why? Why do seasoned butterfly seekers and those new to the search, become so excited when a Zebra is spotted?

They are scarce, rarely seen butterflies. They fly in with grace and beauty and they are surely coming to flowers that are pumping nectar. During this 2019 a typical day might score 2 Monarchs, 3 Pearl Crescents, 1 Pipevine Swallowtail, several Duskywings, an Eastern Comma, 4 Tiger Swallowtails and 1 Red-Spotted Purple. Zebra Swallowtail on that ‘typical day?’ No, not a one.

Rewarded with a look at such a beaut as this one, resplendent in its whites, black, red and blue, you feel special, fortunate to see what few see, a magnificent American butterfly, one of our most eye-pleasing.

This one was shot in Lynx Prairie Reserve, Adams County, Ohio. It’s on Butterflyweed, a milkweed, native to the USA. Also enjoying the milkweed nectar there is an Edwards Hairstreak butterfly, it too is a reason to feel good. Seeing both of these uncommon butterflies, reason enough to travel to Lynx Prairie in late June.

Jeff

My Striped Hairstreak Butterfly

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Forgive me, but I am very pleased with my capture here of a fresh Striped Hairstreak butterfly. Tiny, like all hairstreaks, it startled me when I first eyed it. I was looking for the usual larger butterflies, in the Powdermill Reserve of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, in Rector, Pennsylvania. Rector is in the sylvan Laurel Highlands of south-central Pennsylvania, and finding such a tiny, “Rare-Uncommon” butterfly there, should not have been a surprise to me.

When my Macro- lens came closer and closer to this beauty, it remained in place, and I marveled at how magnificent it was. A shmeksy! butterfly that is never found in abundance, and is alway seen as a solitary specimen, alone, naturally.

This is one of my early finds, and Yep, it stoked my passion to work to find and shoot common and uncommon butterflies, fresh, colorful and reminders of the Gift that we continue to receive.

Jeff

Back to the National Butterfly Center?

Erato Heliconian Butterfly on Grass photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

It is a jolt, seeing way different butterflies at the southernmost tip of Texas. The National Butterfly Center (NBC) in Mission, Texas is visited by many dozens of butterflies that are native to Mexico, and make very rare appearances in the NBC. Now more than 6 months after we visited there, I easily remember the excitement that was unleashed when we saw this Erato Heliconican butterfly.

Yes it’s a bit far away, but this is a “rare” visit to the NBC. This butterfly is rarely seen there. We were there, and sooo Happy to enjoy it’s shocking beauty.

Other rare and uncommon butterflies those 6 days? Red-rim Butterfly, Tropical Greenstreak, Malachite, Mexican Fritillary, Julia Heliconian and those I could not shoot.

Mike, Javier and lots of other folks frequently share Lower Rio Grande butterflies that are new to me or that are very rare, i.e., not seen in the U.S. for 5, 10 or more years.

The desire to return there in 2018 is real. The expenses are also real: Delta flight to San Antonio, Enterprise rental car, and rental apartment all add up to big buck$.

It does rival Florida, because you can find butterflies there in November and December . . .

Think it’s easy when you have the lust to go and find spectacular butterflies?

Jeff

Question Mark Butterfly at the Fruit Bar

Question Mark butterfly on Hanging basket, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

You stop there when you went to the old Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat. I can’t count how many times I did in these last years, 2015 and 2016 and 2017.

Virginia hung this metal basket, often replacing the desiccated fruit in it with fresh, bananas, apples, orange, watermelon and more. That basket was busy from 8 A.M. to just before dusk.

Weeks ago, in the National Butterfly Center (NBC) in Mission, Texas I once again saw baskets, strategically set about the NBC’s acreage. There too I saw another tool that lures butterflies, common and rare. The NBC staff has set out ‘bait logs’ onto which they paint a glomp of a mix of fruit, beer and more. On those bait logs we saw Mexican Bluewing, Tropical Leafwing and many other uncommon butterflies.

This Question Mark butterfly looked very important when I saw it in the Habitat’s fruit basket. Fresh, I was pleased to view this image when it was processed. The “question mark ‘?'” itself pops! Those blue marks along the trailing edge of the hindwing show nicely, the wing margins look handsome and those ants on the melon remind of all ants everywhere, focused and purposeful.

Fruit baskets and bait logs, I’ve got them on my own future to-do list, being desirious of hosting butterflies and other wildlife.

Jeff

When Field Guides Fail

Unknown wildflower, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

The butterfly action was good. March 2016, and so much was new to me. Never seen before butterflies, frustrating this American as they zoomed by on those Israeli trails. Tell me how badly you want images of uncommon or rare or common but catch-me-if -you-can butterflies. I captured my fill, but the beads of frustration were left all over, here, there and just about everywhere.

The Middle Eastern wildflowers at least posed for me, never fleeing my approach. That becomes seductive, and the temptation is to sort of, well, start paying more attention to exotic blooms, and quit the fools game of dashing after warp speed butterflies on the wing.

We’re at Ramat Hanadiv, endowed and spearheaded by one of the early Rothschilds (European wealth). Where? North of Tel Aviv and Netanya, northwest of Jerusalem, and almost screaming distance from the crystal blue Mediterranean.

Here’s a flower that stopped me in my tracks. I thought it to be beautiful. I liked its stark bluish-purple, against a lemon yellow was very eye pleasing. So, I shot away, hoping that you would also stop for a moment and find this a unique blossom, different from all you’ve stored away in your cerebral flower archives.

I have 2 Israeli field guide open before me, and they are, well, not 100% helpful. I know this is the look of the flower, real-time, but their images are well . . . washed out and how to say it?, mediocre.

I concluded that this wild flowering plant is Convolvulus pentapetaloides or Grassy Bindweed. I did this based upon resemblance, location and time of bloom.  The latin name a tad too long, the common name, way too plain, for such a nice looker. Our friend Barbara Ann promptly did her own research and correctly ID’d it as Campanula hierosolymitana or Jerusalem bellflower. Gardeners know the Campanulas. and isn’t this a swell name??

Working trails that bear real, natural beauty. Good. Very good.

Jeff