The Abundant Sulphur

Cloudless Sulphur butterfly on tithonia photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Orange Sulphur butterflies were ‘very common’ those 27 years that I lived in Pittsburgh. That meaning that my well-stocked garden might have a many as 4 or 5 Orange Sulphurs visit on a sunny summer day. They’d be seen on the zinnias, salvias and hosta in bloom.

In summer 2017 I relocated to Georgia Piedmont region. I’d visited Eatonton and its environs in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and I already knew that the Deep South had lots and lots of butterflies. My main destination was Virginia’s Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, it in the center of Eatonton. When you spent mornings there, as I did, you’d enjoy 20 or more butterflies like this one, a male Cloudless Sulphur, all busily flying from flower to flower. This one is enjoying the sugary nectar of a Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia) bloom.

As Virginia says, plant their hostplants and they will come. I did just that, in the closing months of 2017, last year, and now again in young 2019.

What happened last year, 2018? Last year I had, on any given sunny day, 10 or 15 Cloudless Sulphurs in my garden, at any given time. What’s that word, Ubiquitous? These large yellows are almost everywhere, from 8:15 A.M. to 8 P.M, nectaring, flying, resting, mating. They have several flights each year, and all this without any Senna (their hostplant) yet, in my garden!

You almost have to work to remember that just because they are common, does not take away from the acknowledgment of their own unique Beauty.

It reminds Boy Brooklyn of those many years when I worked in Midtown Manhattan, New York. The morning, lunchtime and late afternoon sidewalks were so packed with people, that you soon no longer notice individuals, you just saw masses of people. That, always struck me as unhealthy for the psyche, and I longed to correct that, for me and my Happiness. I finally did, and here I am, mobbed by Cloudless Sulphurs, and enjoying it.

Jeff

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterfly photographed at Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA

Shouldn’t she have already left Pittsburgh and be in West Virginia or Kentucky? It’s September 22nd and our Danaus plexippus is methodically nectaring on tall verbena flower heads in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory.

Smart lady. Surrounded by expansive beds of verbena, zinnias, asters and more, she is preparing for the long flight ahead.

How fortunate is she to have little to fear from the animals about that would otherwise prey on such a vulnerable prey. Our recent Monarch butterfly post discusses why she has little to fear and why that is.

So there she is. It is likely that she has mated and already deposited her eggs on carefully chosen Asclepias (milkweed) plants.

She probably arrived safely in Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana. Which was her destination? I defer to our blog visitors from NABA (North American Butterfly Association) or Xerces Society for their Comments.

Did she, or was it her progeny that crossed to Gulf of Mexico and flew into Mexico? Again, Hmmmm.

What we do know is that she is vivacious!

For me, this opportunity and this image represent serendipity!

Jeffrey

Buckeye Butterfly

Buckeye butterfly photographed at Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA

When a fresh Buckeye butterfly appears your eyes immediately lock on it. Those spots! Those chevrons! There’s a mix of eyespots, lines, and patterns. I enjoy spotting Buckeyes and this one was nice, very nice. Zinnias were prepared to share their nectar and this Buckeye was in the middle of a good-sized bed of zinnias.

Buckeyes are not seen everywhere, so if you want to find one a good place to look is a perennial garden loaded with zinnias, coneflowers, marigolds, sunflowers, salvias and hyssops.

When they’re not feeding Buckeyes speed away when you approach them, but usually land 10 feet away. When you approach them again, and then again they’re now 10 feet away.

Do you see the challenge?

Jeffrey