Viceroy Butterfly Resting

Viceroy Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lawrence Woods Reserve

Monarchs, especially female Monarchs can be seen doing it. Seeking high grasses, and stopping deep in them, to rest for good stretches of time. This butterfly here is a Viceroy. That meandering rim of black that courses across the hind wings is the first assurance that it’s a Viceroy. We were working the trail edge through Lawrence Woods Reserve in Ohio, and that wetland trail was rich in butterflies, especially those keen on wetland habitat. Viceroys stay close to willows, and willows prefer the guaranteed wetness of wetlands.

Monarchs, Viceroys, Great Spangled Fritillaries, and Wood Nymph butterflies, all can be found resting, hiding in the high grasses of meadows and wetlands. Many a time when I see one securely tucked away in high green, I wonder. Is this behavior the result of conscious decision making by that butterfly or is what you see before you the mechanical response to prescribed behavior determined by genetic programming?

When I earned my BS in Biology, we were nowhere near even asking this kind of question. Are we much ahead of that curve now?

Jeff

Tete a Tete With Baltimores

Baltimore Checkerspot Caterpillar photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

Last year I  captured one of my most favorite images, the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly I met in Jamestown, New York at the fabulous Audubon Center there. That shot was shared here as a post, and enjoyed very heavy traffic. It’s the kind of look that gives me immense satisfaction, knowing that many dozens of you saw it, and some will, maybe, internalize it as their reference Baltimore adult look.

This 2017 we returned back, and this time Jeff, their very valuable Nature specialist, gave us directions to where we were likely to find Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars, that last week in June.

We traced our way to that wetland trail, and amongst a goodly number of Turtlehead plants ( the hostplant of Baltimores ), there they were! Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars.

Determined to cop a good image, I shot away, yep!, with my Fuji ASA 50 slide film.

Here is one of those Baltimore caterpillars. Near bizarre in appearance, and richly colored. Bold and standing out in a deeply green backstage.

I Love such beauty! You?

Jeff

Daylilies

Daylilies photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

We’ve watched these daylilies at Raccoon Creek State Park for more than a decade. They are planted strategically around the circa 1880’s (?) farmhouse in the Park. Those flower buds appear, enlarge and then anticipation. Day after day they signal soon, soon, soon. Then one day, boom! the first ones open, here and there.

Bombus pennsylvanicus (American bumblebees) love them, visiting regularly. Ruby throateds come too. Butterflies? Tiger swallowtails await these blooms, and nectar on them, as do Great spangled fritillaries and occasional others.

Yes, they were planted by people. But they’ve been there for more than a decade, perhaps much more than that. They stand witness to lots of stuff going on in the Park maybe the passing through of a rare Ursus americanus, or the silent prowl of a bobcat, the night howls of coyotes, and also, to the extraordinary animal that I saw one day in the Wildflower Reserve or the long-tailed cat (perhaps 40-50 pounds in weight) that I once saw on the Wetland Trail, not too far away.

We’ll be putting in our perrenial garden in October, and daylilies are on my List.

Jeff

Spring Larkspur Wildflowers

Spring Larkspur Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Heading along a trail at Raccoon Creek State Park, just minutes after entering the Wetland Trail, I begin scanning the growth on both sides of the trail for butterflies. I always pay particular attention to the right side of the trail. It gets good backlight from the early morning sun, and the girth of the trail edge to treed habitat is more substantial. Then there they were: flowers of bluish-purple color that were especially rich. They were so rich that I just had to stop in my tracks. These flowers evoke decorations used by European porcelain artisans in the 19th century. It was a Wow! experience, seeing these flowers quietly nestled there in the morning shadows. Now bathed in gentle morning sunlight, I knelt down and shot photographs. I’m photographing on film with a hand-held camera, so I took many, many exposures.

Delphinium tricorne is a native delphinium, and they are related to those resplendent flowers hung elegantly from tall,  straight stems. Consider whether or not you want to engage the challenge, and then buy the delphinium and just be aware that there is no guarantee that it will grow as you want it to.

In search of butterflies looking for nectar, I have spent a fair amount of time posted at Spring Larkspur like these. Such an image could become book art, and I’ve never had the good fortune to photograph one. I did,  once, see an Eastern Black Swallowtail nectar on Spring Larkspur. It remained there for seconds, I sucked in my breath and then it was gone! Zero, zilch. No image.

Jeff

Tawny Emperor Butterfly

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

One of my most appreciated images. I had just arrived at the Wetland Trail at Raccoon Creek State Park. On the horizontal post of a trail marker sign I saw, Oh my goodness! This Tawny Emperor butterfly remained in full pose, as I gently pleaded with it to continue to bask in the warm morning sunshine–enabling me to capture more than a roll full (36) of shots. Then it fled! Eureka! This image was the result.

You never know what’s waiting for you at the trail head. Wings dabbed with golden brushes, spots circled by coral rings, all on wings that look like they’re Asterocampa clyton.

An 11×14 graces the wall of my dining room. It’s matting features a calligraphy of someone whom I admired, it noting roughly, ‘How beautiful are G-d’s creatures.’ I enjoy it daily.

One of the hackberry butterflies, a population of them usually signals the nearby presence of trees.

Jeffrey