Hermon Iris: a wildflower protected in Israel

Hermon Iris Wildflower (Protected Species) photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Northern Golan, Israel

Yes. wingedbeauty.com is a blog sharing our images and encounters with butterflies. But this March 2012 trip to Israel’s Northernmost Golan region coincided with the bloom of several exquisite wildflowers.

Hermon Iris is a protected wildflower that took our breath away when we came upon it alongside a trail. We saw approximately 20 in bloom. Delicate, fine, and regal, it is unlike any iris that I have planted in my several home gardens.

This is a lightly travelled region in the month of March. This is serendipitous, because it almost insures that Hermon Iris will bloom without human intervention.

I remain in disbelief years after learning that species of butterflies in the states have been extirpated in part due to collectors who could not resist (for a variety of reasons) collecting individuals and knocking their populations into oblivion!

I’ve booked for June, looking forward to again photographing in this region. At the crossroads of Israel, Lebanon and embattled Syria. Ah, the Horizon.


Male Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly Enjoys an Enviable Habitat

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, PA

Around 10 AM in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory in the center of Pittsburgh. The University of Pittsburgh a 3 minute walk straight ahead and Carnegie Mellon University a 2 minute walk to our right.

Our Papilio polyxenes is imbibing nectar at a furious pace. One of countless butterflies that fly into these expertly maintained flowerbeds from the equally verdant Schenley Park that surrounds the Phipps. So, a horticultural oasis surrounded by a very, very large Pittsburgh Park, in turn surrounded by beautiful universities and inviting neighborhoods. Our male here certainly enjoys an enviable habitat.

A widespread species, Black Swallowtail caterpillars feed upon members of the carrot and parsley family. Their success is aided by the abundance of Queen Anne’s Lace, Fennel, Parsley, Dill, Celery and Carrots found throughout Schenley Park and in Phipps’ Outdoor Gardens and the home gardens beyond.

Tough to photograph, not because they refuse your approach while nectaring, but rather because their rapid wing movement while feeding requires many, many exposures to hope to score a good image. We were please with this one, thank you.

As we’ve blogged so many times before, the appearance of such a handsome butterfly, usually unanticipated, is nirvana. And when they stop to nectar, and are serious about it- Well, that’s just sweet!


Red Admiral Extracting Nectar in a Beautiful Butterfly Garden

Red Admiral Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Eastern Neck National Wildlife refuge, MD

One of my goals has been to capture a good image of the colorful  ventral (below) wing surface of Vanessa atalanta. Countless slides have been pitched into the trash, because they didn’t reveal the wonderful 3-colors that group together. That red, white and blue bunched together always reminds me of the colors of our American flag.

This August morning, our Vanessa was aggressively extracting nectar from a flower in the lovingly maintained butterfly garden at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the Delmarva Peninsula on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. We saw many Vanessas during our 3-morning trip. Those in this beautiful garden enabled me to approach and they patiently complied. So I shot, shot, shot and am satisfied with what I got. Quite different from the skittish ones here in Pennsylvania.

Just months later I was 1/2 way around the world, photographing butterflies in Binyamina, Israel in December. Israel’s Vanessa atalantas were almost identical to this one. What adaptability! Resiliency!

I must note that I have been very impressed with the opportunities offered by the National Wildlife Refuges that I have visited. Yazoo (MS), Blackwater (MD), Savannah (SC) and Eastern Neck have excellent habitat. All provided knowledgeable staff who were eager to give assistance. It was a pleasure.


Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly in Maryland’s Lush Bayscape Garden

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Black Form) photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in  Eastern Neck National Wildlife refuge, MD

August on the Delmarva Pensinsula. It’s no wonder that residents of this beautiful region are so proud of their verdant Maryland landscape!

As American Bald Eagles and Osprey soared overhead, our visit to Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge offered a constant display of butterflies for us. Butterflies that were as richly colorful as they were varied.

Here our Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly is not the commonly seen variety, but instead she is an example of the Black form. Elegance and bearing are terms that she evokes.

My own experience has been that Papilio glaucus (Black-form) represent some 1% of the tiger swallowtails that we see. Does that match your experience in the field? Does this coloration represent a need to mimic the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly and gain predator recognition as a distasteful catch? Hmmm.

Tiger swallowtails nectar actively. She’s busily doing so in the lush Bayscape Garden that is painstakingly maintained by a core of friendly volunteers. The nearby town of Rock Hall is a pretty place, with its small harbor and time stood still look.

What will her progeny look like? Black and yellow butterflies.

For those of you who are still in school, there’s a whole lot of research needed to be done before we better understand how this all works. Lucky are the students who who seize this opportunity!


A Spider’s Web Crafted Along the Water’s Edge

Spider Web photographed in Raystown Lake, PA

Stunning! Our early morning visit to Raystown Lake in central Pennsylvania found dozens of displays of artwork along the water’s edge. Each supported who knows how many droplets of water. Prisms all, they dazzled and titillated.

Which artisans worked to craft these? Were they meant to be disassembled and rebuilt again? We didn’t stop to learn whether this was the work of Black and Yellow Argiopes or of the several species of Orbweavers.

These bejeweled webs do claim countless butterflies. That is reason enough to post it here on wingedbeauty.com. This has been the story since the beginning. So in the end this is our world.

How much time have we spent trying to understand how spiders meticulously construct such webs and, how their delicate proteins hold all but the largest of insects, even after countless minutes spent flaying away to attempt escape.

Why do you photograph butterflies, I’m asked? Because of their beauty. It surpasses the finest work of the world’s premier jewelry artisans. So too this gorgeous web demands….Stop and take a look!