Pipevine Colors?

Close Up of Pipevine Swallowtail  Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow as it perched on Bergamot flower at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 7/31/14

We’re seeing many friends and soon to be friends posting images of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies. I enjoy those pictures, and confession? I usually am examining, do they, have they captured the mesmerizing color that Pipevine may deliver?

Here’s my entry in the Pipevine Color Board. When this Pipevine flew in and did what I so wanted it to do, head straight to the Bergamot in abundant bloom in Doak Field (Raccoon Creek State Park, Hookstown, Pennsylvania) I was ready. Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies hover over the flowers they take nectar from, with their wings beating furiously. It’s difficult, very, to score an image with super terrific wing color. Flew that I’ve seen ever capture striking blues, corals, whites, black.

The road to success in getting exceptional Pipevine color? First you need luck, for your butterfly must be fresh and spectacularly tinted. Then, Ma’am, with sunlight at your back, and morning sunlight (not much later than 10:00 AM, shoot away, not 5 exposures, but . . . say, 50.

Did this image achieve Pipevine Color Amazingness? You tell me!


Bee Balm Wildflower

Bee Balm Wildflowers photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Eastern Black Swallowtails love Bee Balm Wildflower. They hover over this cluster of lipstick-red tubular flowers, wings beating furiously. They are insert their double-tubed proboscises down into each flower, and sip on the carbohydrate-rich nectar.

Ruby throated hummingbirds also favor these beautiful blooms. There’s a particular spot on the Nichol road trail at Raccoon Creek State Park with a patch of these perennials close to a small running stream. There’s heavy traffic flying around these flowers, with butterflies and birds frantically doing the helicopter thing to sip the sweet nectar cache.

Bee Balm Wildflower has been a cultivar for wetland species in my home garden for many years. Once you learn which spot they prefer (moist, full sun) they will reward the gardener with years of fantastic color. They do look less becoming after your blooms have gone, usually becoming surfaced with a silvery, dusty patina. At this stage I cut them back. Garden cultivators can enjoy ruby throated hummingbirds every hour on the hour, from 8 A.M. to dusk!

With Bee balm, Prairie fire, pentestomens, purple and black whatchamacallits, it’s just too much fun sitting in my garden in the morning, watching the air show that unfolds.

I love Bee balm (Monarda Didyma), and judging from the fliers noted above, I’m in good company.