The Bronze Copper Club

Bronze Copper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, Pennsylvania

Few of us have even seen a Bronze Copper (Lycaena hyllus) butterfly. Me? Here’s the only one I’ve been able to photograph. I was working the edge of the Wetland Trail pond in Raccoon Creek State Park (Hookstowns Town, Pennsylvania (45 minutes west of Pittsburgh) and examining the Alder bushes that lined the pond.

Whoa! What’s that? I saw it, knew it was a Copper butterfly, but, it was larger than a tiny American Copper. That wide orange border on the underside of its hindwing is what made my ‘Battlestations’ internal alarm go off. I’d never (Yes, never) seen one before, but I was nurturing years of anticipation of seeing one. I made my Patent Pending Robotic approach, began to shoot away, and away it went. Here is my satisfying image.

Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America notes that Bronze Coppers are LR-LU (Locally Rare-Locally Uncommon). I can verify the validity of that, for in the ensuing years, I’ve only seen 2 of them, and scored zero images to share.

Those of you who have enjoyed meeting a Bronze Copper, meeting this solitary loner of a butterfly, are verifiably Charter Members of the Bronze Copper Club. You’ve worked wetlands much, and seeing a Bronze, the payoff! Upsetting is the real possibility that this pretty butterfly may be steadily decreasing in numbers and in range.

Which of you are Club members?

Jeff

Want To See A Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak Butterfly?

Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself, that you cannot see America’s butterflies when you just feel like seeing them. Some fly when snow is still on the ground, others fly in the Spring, late Spring, early Summer, mid-Summer, late Summer, early Fall. Here in Georgia some fly in the late Fall.

Where do they fly? Meadows, Fens, Marshes, Wetlands, Forest, Thick Forest, Salt Marshes, Mountain Slopes, Different Elevations, Rock Falls, Water Seeps . . . and on on.

This Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak butterfly flies in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, near the border wall with Mexico.

I met it at the National Butterfly Center‘s perennial gardens in Mission, Texas – near the famous border wall.

My eyes immediately go to that large black spot on its hindwing, deliciously surrounded by a sweet orange rind circle. Those cute ‘tails’ and spiffy hindwing black semicircles rimmed with white, also catch my eye.

Jeff

Rose’s Silvery

Silvery Checkerspot Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Rose and Jerry agreed to meet me at the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. Pearly-eyes were the objective. I am fond of pearly-eye butterflies, brushfoots that I know from my Pennsylvania trails. Elusive, mysterious and one of very, very few butterflies that you’d see on an overcast morning. Always seen near wetlands, they tease you to come closer, than . . . are gone, into the tree labyrinth nearby.

But this was Georgia, and I was anxious to make my first meet-up with the other pearly eyes: Southern Pearly-eye and the very hard to find Creole Pearly-eye. The park ranger cautioned, did I understand that the swamp that the 3 of us were headed to had been a known vector for several insect-borne diseases. Uh . . . Um, No. Hmmm. Quick conference with me, myself and I. I had grown up on the streets of Brooklyn, I had been in too many fights to count, carried a 5″ folding during those subway rides for 4-years, volunteered for NYARNG artillery ( 155mm towed ), Dean for 5.5 years at a Big NYC high school, ran hundreds of apartments in NYNY, . . . . . survived, Thank G-d. Next thing I knew, Rose, Jerry and I were in that swamp. A wonderland of Pearly-eyes it was. We saw Northern, Southern, Creole and Gemmed Satrys in that cane filled lowland. It was overpoweringly dark for my ASA 50/100 Fuji Velvia film, the sweat was just streaming down over my glasses, and Rose and Jerry ( Phd, Entomology! ) are human dynamos, calling me here, then there, to see fliers. Imagine me spinning around, jumping logs and mucking in mud. I Loved it!

After they mercifully agreed that we had done what we can do, Rose asked if there were any other butterflies that I might like to see and that are local to the Georgia Piedmont. Sure, Silvery Checkerspots. I may have seen one once, a long time ago. Off we shot in their car, and soon arrived at a small retaining pond. Jerry parked, and Rose led the way. Bingo! She pointed out the Mamma mia! of a Silvery. With glee! I got down on my belly and shot away. Here it is, near perfect, with those white spots in the margins of the hindwings.

Friends like Rose and Jerry enable me. They seem pleased to meet me and show me new trails, to rich butterfly lodes. It is only in the last years that I have been so fortunate to meet and benefit from Nancy, John, Mike, Virginia, Phil, Barbara Ann, Erica, Angela (next week), Dave.

Rose’s Silvery. Watcha’ think?

Jeff

The $100 Question?

Rare Skipper, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Brunswick, GA

That $100 question is . . . . Where must you head out to, if you are desirous of  meeting a Salt Marsh Skipper? In my case, the Crosby’s and I drove to Brunswick, Georgia. We wished to see and shoot Eastern Pygmy Blue Butterflies and Salt Marsh Skippers.

Why did we go to Brunswick, on the Georgia coast. Because to find Salt Marsh Skippers, you have to find their habitat, coastal salt marshes. Off we went, for my hoped for 1st view of Panoquina panoquin.

Bingo! Coastal marsh dwellers, they were challenging, alighting on these small yellow flowerheads, and remaining in place for fractions of seconds. No complaint mind you, for that sunny morning these coastal marshes were spectacularly beautiful, and we were treated with a menu of wetland birds, including hard to find Roseate spoonbills, very methodical working the marsh edges with their fascinating bills.

Our Salt marsh skippers spend their whole life living in salty or brackish marshes. I remember as a kid, spending all of those summers at Grandma Polisar’s tiny bungalow in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York. Every bungalow in that little ‘colony’ had an outdoor shower, a little wooden affair, which scarily housed huge (? were they) spiders in their corner webs. You always showered after spending those 9 AM to 5-ish PM at the salty Atlantic beach. How do these skippers live 24/7 in a habitat just covered with briny salt? Well, that’s why they get the tag, butterfly ‘specialists.’

Jeff

Those Southern Viceroys in Georgia

Viceroy butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Our Viceroy butterflies here in Pennsylvania (8 hours west of New York City) are beautiful, elusive butterflies. We don’t see too many of them, they are now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t, and they are only found when 2 conditions are found together, wetlands and willow trees/bushes. No, my slide storage cabinet is not jam-packed with slides of Limenitis archippus. I have not seen as many of them as you would think. They are solitary butterflies and that means that you might see one here, see another later, a distance away there, and that second? Worn and wings bird-struck.

My trips to the U.S. southeast took me to the Land of possibilities. I might possibly find butterflies new to me. That I did: Georgia Satyrs, Giant Swallowtails, Little Metalmarks, Eastern Pygmy Blues, Zebra Heliconians (bold because that was a Kick!!), Juniper Hairstreaks, Cassius Blues, Palamedes Swallowtails, and more.

There was a type I wanted to see, but hadn’t yet seen. That takes us back to Viceroys. I so wanted to see the Viceroys shared in field guides of the eastern United States. Images in those guides showed southern Viceroys with spectacular hues, colors deeper and more Yummy! than the viceroys of Pennsylvania, northeastern viceroys.

Leave it to the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton to make that introduction. In this latest creation of Virginia Linch and company, August 2016, there I was staring at a Shmeksy! (read gorgeous) Viceroy butterfly . . . of the South. Near impossible to determine the gender, but this one cooperated, while it was resting for a bit, and I was pleased with its rich, sweet color. Very pleased. The slide louped well (on my light box). Back from the scanners (Rewind Memories), I gazed at this image, and it confirmed . . .  that Georgia is a butterfly destination. No doubt about it.

Jeff