Irony that. I flew 7,000 miles, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Israel to see my first Parnassian butterflies. The continental USA has 2 species of these wondrous beauties, the Phoebus Parnassian and the Clodius Parnassian, as few as some 2,000 or so miles from Pittsburgh. Finding the HolyLand Parnassians turned out to be a tad easier, for Israel is a tiny little country, the western USA is enormous, and I would not have a clue as to where to search.
That said, you may be a bit surprised that America does not have Parnassians butterflies, closely related to our swallowtail butterflies, east of the Mississippi River. That may well have something to do with the parnassian’s preference for higher elevations.
This Allancastria cerisyi was a learning experience for me. I wanted to find them, and find them I did. They are rare, protected butterflies. The learning curve for me was, determine which rare butterfly you want to shoot, pinpoint the limited range (in this case, a narrow strip of Mediterranean shoreline at Israel’s northwestern corner), learn what you can about your objective, and go there. I rented a room in a nearby SPNI (Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel) field house, and started out that morning early, very, very early. Several fruitless stops later, I noticed a nature park on the outskirts of the little Moshav (village) of Hanita. I parked, suited up for my field work, and within minutes . . . I found them, some nectaring and some still stationary, warming themselves in the morning sun. Bingo!
This play of yellow, black, red and yes, blue tickles my fancy. Better yet they are rare, but not rare once you time it right, and you located them in their certain habitat.
I cannot expect to ever forget that morning. Mission accomplished, mission electrifying.