Butterfly Opps . . .

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa - Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap. (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

At the front of this fraction of the 130 people who came from near and far (Maryland, at the least) to see and marvel over Regal Fritillary butterflies, I enjoyed (no, really enjoyed) every moment of this July 10th, 2015 field opp at Ft. Indiantown  Gap’s Annual Butterfly Tour. Joseph Hovis and Dave McNaughton combined to make this a spectacular outing. July 9th, stormy, tornado warnings out. The day you see, sunny, warm, no wind, moderate humidity. Their staff and volunteers shepherded all of us effectively. Jake Fronko, an Environmental Science staffer, provided much background information, and once there were 3 of us, often ahead of the others, Jake was a keen spotter. My images are back from Kansas, and include several good ones, including mating Regals. There are not enough of these opportunities available. If there are more than I am aware of, why aren’t they know to me, us? Done effectively, as this one sure was, there is minimal impact on habitat, and maximum field education of a whole lot of earnest supporters of the environment. American Butterflies (Spring/Summer 2015) arrived in the mailbox recently. This NABA magazine features Definitive Destination: Big Bend WMA, Florida by David Harder, Virginia Craig, Dean Jue and Sally Jue. It is now my plan to visit there in August. Three days there could expand my life list of butterflies big time. My only visits to Florida were in 1962, when I and another loco hitched from Binghamton, NY to Miami (and nearly got killed, lynched more than once) and in 1978 when I flew to Miami, drove my rental through the Everglades, and spent time in Naples. Butterfly Opps, opportunities to see, taste, smell and hear the siren’s song of Butterfly wonderment. ‘Hobby?’ Uh, uh. We need more of them, Thank You. Jeff

10 Years of Patience . . . Pays Off Regally

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa - Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap. (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

Mysterious, very protected, studied, and by all accounts, beautiful. A butterfly that once flew in my hometown, Brooklyn, New York (Butterfly People by Willam Leach, Pantheon Books). Today the only known colony of them in the Eastern U.S. is in central Pennsylvania, and flying in the middle of a military reservation. Gone from Maine to Florida, yet whispers heard that the Regal Fritillary (Speyeria Idalia) really was doing fine in that rolling “prairie” grassland, just ½ hour drive from Harrisburg, the state capitol. 2015 was to be a bit of a bust-out year for me, a push me / shove me year that would include more travel and more chutzpah. Israel in March. Went to the far northern Galilee to find a rare protected Parnassian, that flew in March, only March. We’ll share those images shortly. Went to Georgia, at the invitation of Eatonton’s Briar Patch habitat, with southern butterflies galore. Went to the Allegheny National Forest and nearby Jamestown Audubon Center, both eye candy for anyone seeking butterflies. Suffered a personal loss, the death of my father, which brought me back to Georgia, where he was interred in the Georgia Memorial Veterans Cemetery, and a U.S. Army trumpeter to set the sad tone. Still, more than 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to shoot butterflies that were threatened with extirpation (extinction). I’ve spent so much time amongst fritillaries, and it was time, I should see and photograph the beauty of them all (fair or unfair?) the Regal Fritillary. Where could I find it? Jet to Illinois or farther Midwest, or see them at Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in Pennsylvania. Let me leave it at this, the people at the forefront of our organizations did not return my calls, or letters. 10 years went by. On Facebook, a group member, new to me, noted a few weeks ago that Fort Indiantown Gap was conducting Regal Fritillary tours to all comers, no reservations required. Huh? 194 miles from Pittsburgh, Thursday night in a Hampton Inn in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, then Friday morning, July 10th, there I was . . . one of 130 people there for the tour. The rain/thunder of the day before was gone, with sun, sun, sun and no wind. The Regal Frits were flying in good numbers. The males speeding along, seeking females. The females were calmly moving from Butterfly weed to Butterfly weed. The crowd thinned, until we were three, me, a pleasant woman, and Jake, a naturalist on staff at Fort Indiantown Gap. Is it not evident that I am having a really good time? Regals are beautiful. Though they seem as carefree as Great Spangled frits, you know that they are so, so rare. Protected by the Pennsylvania National Guard, US Army, and the OMG! F-16’s flying way above. 2.5 hours of Jeff giddiness. I have seen and photographed one of the most evasive butterflies in the United States.The slides are at this moment in Kansas, then they go the Rewind Memories here in Pittsburgh, then we shall see what we shall see. The Jeff you see here is a very relaxed Jeff, only thinking of seizing this opportunity to the fullest, and very, very Thankful. 10 years, do you get it? Jeff

Our Most Shared Butterfly Photo

Melitaca trivia butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel
These last 3.5 years seem to have shot by, in a flash. wingedbeauty.com has been up that long, and now archives the more than 430 images that we’ve posted.

I shoveled snow twice today, and I must have looked forlornly at my front garden at least 8 times. The American plums and ice hydrangeas are only in for one year, but they gamely stood in their beds, buds looking healthy and earnest.

Back in the house, I got to thinking. Which of all of my posted images has stood out amongst the others, for this or that reason? Here is an answer to that. This image is the most shared of them all.

it’s serendipity too, because we met this Melitaea Persea Montium butterfly on the tippy top of Mt. Hermon, in Israel in June 2008. It was very, very hot and dry on that mountain, and I like remembering that now, when the last 2 weeks have featured nights with zero degrees Fahrenheit and below.

Why is it the most shared? I must guess. Because it is very rare, only found on that mountain top, and its flight is short, happily in June, when Mr. Passion for Seeking Butterflies was on the top of the mountain.

I fly to Israel on March 8, G-d willing. No way I can work Mt. Hermon for butterflies. It is covered with a cap of snow. I do plan to explore the slopes of the mountain, and the Upper Galilee. Yes I will be careful. Knowing that I’ll be close to the border with Lebanon, where the terrorist organization Hezbollah has now been joined by Iranian troops, together conspiring to cause murder and mayhem, this once-Brooklyn boy has seen enough action to not want to . . .

You know, the United Nations should have a permanent representative with a vote, there to represent all of G-d’s creatures, who seem forever jeopardized by the senseless actions of crazy humans.


Is Shining Your Shoes Passe?

Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 9/5/14
Traffic here from guys under age 40? Light, I would say. So I’ll share the thought. Here in Doak Field, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, on September 5th, this sizable Great Spangled Butterfly was now out from the woods, and she wanted to warm her wings in the early morning sunlight. That quick mental tug-of-war resolved, I decided to work to capture yet another image of these huge Fritillaries, and hopefully . . . best those that I already have in my Neumade slide cabinet.

Fort Dix, New Jersey and Fort Sill, Oklahoma got me into shining my boots daily, a habit that I have now relaxed into a weekly chore. I have always loved rich chocolate brown leather shoes, and used to love my chocolate brown suits, but they have long slipped into “No one wears them anymore-ville.” Also, I’m guessing that men under 40 don’t shine their shoes and perhaps never did.

Our Speyeria Cybele totally evokes my shoe shining rituals. Could it be that rich brown that triggers that wired thought? Butterflies all evoke thoughts and snippets of memory for me. Do they for you, too?

She’s about the same as you’d see her in Eatonton, Georgia or Crockett, Virginia, as well as up in Maine and usually down to the Western sides of both North and South Carolina. (Cech and Tudor, Butterflies of the East Coast).