Will 2021 be the Year for Goatweed Butterflies?

Tropical Leafwing Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TXTropical leafwing butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Yep, these are Tropical Leafwing Butterflies, and I was thrilled to meet them at the National Butterfly Center. I always appreciate such times, and usually Thank G-d that I’m among the 1 in 500,000 Americans who have been blessed to see an uncommon butterfly. When the Tropical on the right opened its wings, and those Richly Orange hued upper wings produce big smiles, they do!

We’re viewing Tropicals because of something I’ve remembered. These 26 or so years of photographing butterflies have allowed me to meet another Leafwing no more than 3 times. I’ve seen Goatweed Leafwing butterflies in Mississippi and in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. Each time it was early in the morning, and each time I was so Shocked! to happen onto a Goatweed, they resting on tree trunks, that I forgot (?) to start shooting, and instead gaped/gazed at those shy, elusive, fighter-jet quick Leafwings.

More, I cannot remember seeing anyone post a Goatweed Leafwing on Facebook, Word Press or anywhere else in the last 12 months. In the last 24 months! So let’s be on the lookout for National Butterfly Center news that includes Goatweed Leafwing butterflies!

So, next year, G-d Willing, I ask y’all to let me know if you have a reliable habitat where Goatweeds can be regularly seen? I’m no longer a NABA member, so I cannot poll that closed group for this, but I can hope that y’all can give me feedback. I lack a single Goatweed Leafwing image, and I want one. Seriously.


This Magic Moment

Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

What was it like? Jay and the Americans helped with that:  And then it happened, It took me by surprise, I knew that you felt it too, By the look in your eyes.

I was at the Nichol Road trail, hiking into Raccoon Creek State Park (Hookstown, Pennsylvania). I waded into a stand of Teasel wildflower, and waited by those 6.5 foot flowerheads, waited for butterflies to fly in. With the sky a baby blue, I knew that if I could get lucky, and butterflies flew in, captures of them with the blue sky in the background would be good, very good.

Instead, look, LOOK what flew in. My very first ever Milbert’s Tortoiseshell butterfly. An uncommon, very uncommon butterfly. Look at that glimpse of the upper surface of its forewing! Words cannot adequately describe how beautiful that dorsal  (upper) surface is.

What was missing that morning? You, there with me, to feel it too, and enable me to confirm how magical those minutes were, by the look in your eyes.

Those surreal moments have almost always been solitary ones, and that is how it is. No?