The Middle Eastern Moth that Swooped in

Unknown Moth, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Society for the Protection of Nature Hermon, Israel

Hours into working the trails of SPNI Hermon, at the slope of Mt. Hermon, I was giddy, with so many butterflies flying, and untold wildflowers that were new to me. It was March 2015, and 2015’s winter was a wet one, insuring that March in Israel would produce a bounty of botany. Abundant wildflowers attract and nurture healthy numbers of butterflies, bees, flies and all of the rest of the flying nectarers.

It was that time when earnest naturalists begin thinking, Should I quit now, or push myself. Into that decision mix I added the clincher. Once the morning sun gets too high overhead, it bleaches images, and renders them less than fab.

Just then, I passed a rocky outcrop on my right, and, this moth shot out from somewhere and Huh? It landed, just 2 feet from me. I don’t seek moths, but they are winged beauties, and I am a curious type. Decision was made. Approach, and shoot out. Remember I use a Macro-lens (2.8, 100mm, Cannon). I liked this moth. It must be a type of hawkmoth, and it was fresh and I noted those blue bands on its abdomen. A pretty baby blue, that I liked.

What moth is it? I do not know. I do know that we will soon learn its ID from someone who know Middle Eastern moths.

Good. An exotic moth, who flew to me and posed. Happily, I was there, 7,000 miles from home, on this rocky outcrop, surrounded by a palette of wildflower beauty.


You’ve Never Seen This, Ever.

Sign: Danger photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

Thought I had, as I sought butterflies that day in northernmost Israel, the village of Hanita, less than ½ of a mile from the Israeli-Lebanese border. I continue to meet folks who seek to find and study butterflies. The more I travel, the more fascinating people I meet. 2015 was just a wonderful year, in Pennsylvania, Israel, New York, Georgia and Florida. Many have earned the status of authority, with keen minds, command of a great wealth of butterfly knowledge, limitless energy and thankfully, are anxious to share and spread their love of these winged beauties.

I love my time spent in the field with them. Hurtling through habitats, over logs, through brambles, attentive to the possibility of reptiles, chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes, at the same time heeding their there it goes, yes there, no there, Oh, its now headed to there. In Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, the lowland swampy terrain’s air was thin, super moist, and I would not admit that at times I could barely catch my breath. Satyrs, creoles, browns, OMG! That with the most patient, supportive butterfliers teaming up with me.

In Hanita, I gazed at this sign and fence, and it struck me, though such experts have substantially more field experience than I, they surely have never followed a flying butterfly to this. A stark NO! Do not enter Here, for you will surely be blown to smithereens!! Very common in the north of Israel, uncommon elsewhere. The product of past war. You’ve never seen this, ever.


Blue Eastern Tailed Blue

Eastern Tailed Blue butterfly  (Dorsal view), photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

I’ve been busy chasing blues here and abroad this 2015 year, and now safely home and at my PC, this image of an Eastern Tailed blue, at Jamestown Audubon Center, gives me much encouragement.

He was taking some moments to bask in the warm morning sun, enabling him to then return to his sole task of the day, searching for and find suitable mates. The extensive field of the Jamestown Audubon Center’s reserve are lush and thick with healthy botany, leaving little concern that he will flame out that day.

What say you of this expanse of tasty blue? After joining with the blues of Georgia and the Florida Panhandle, western New York blues have nothing to be ashamed of. Period.


A Native Orchid Near You

Pink Lady's Slipper Orchid, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Chapman State Park, PA

When you approach this native orchid, in its late Spring secluded forest, dappled light dancing through the trees, all the clutter on your mind disappears. Pink Lady’s Slippers are starkly beautiful. Never found in large groups, they are rare, finicky and exist in very limited numbers. The color is a rich red. The bloom, when seen up close is other-worldy, reminding me of the human heart, or some Star Trekkian thing. You watch your step, you speak in hushed tones, because, well because you feel that you are in the presence of something very vital, very Big.

These were flourishing in Chapman State Park, set in the much larger Allegheny National Forest, in northwestern Pennsylvania. I drove the several hours to see native orchids (and butterflies). June 2015, and I remember the moment that these blooms were spotted. Another Oh My Goodness Moment! How many of those do You enjoy per week?  Month?

Oh, admission fee? Zero.


Middle East Parnassian (Protected)

Allancastria Cerisyi Speciosa butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

Not a single Parnassian Butterfly east of the Mississippi River. I’d never seen one of these beautiful butterflies, until my March 2015 trip to Israel’s Upper Galilee region. They fly in limited habitat, within 100 yards of the Israeli-Lebanon border. They fly in March, and I jumped into my rental car, and there I went.

Back yesterday from weeks in central Georgia, and days in Florida’s Panhandle (Wow! to both, and more about that in the coming days and weeks), we can finally share the diverse images that I captured there.

This male could not be followed, flying at great speed, and making sharp turns, as though IDF trained. But it was very early, and he and the others stopped often to sip nectar from native flowers. Approach could be made, for he was fully focused on fueling-up.

Allancastria Cerisyi Speciosa. Rare, protected and gorgeous, with its yellow, black, red and blue hindwing spots.

I am learning that rare butterflies can be seen if you know where they can be found (Thank you Dubi Benyamini), you can be there when they fly, you can travel there, get good weather and respect the OMG! of their limited existence.

A butterfly protected by Israel. Just 300 feet ( meters? ) from the very dangerous border. We both enjoyed the morning, Parnassian and I.