Parnassian Butterfly East of the Mississippi?

Allancastria Cerisyis butterfly (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

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.

Jeff

 

Northern Pearly Eye Thrills

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

They are often hard to find. They stay in shade, or within several feet of shaded spots. On your approach, they flee, flying low, but with the skill of an accomplished F-16 pilot. Few of us ever get to savor the spots that adorn their closed wings. What we are lucky to see is just that, their ventral (the underside) wings’ surfaces.

So they are demure, very. They do not come out and display their comely features or bling. Mostly they stay to those margins of the forest, very prim ands proper, and shy, so shy.

That is why this image of such a Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly stands out for me. This one allowed my approach, and I was thrilled, because it was there taking in whatever early morning sun it felt safe to absorb. Thrilled for how many get to see this? See the milk chocolate hue of those wings, and the handsome array of those spots,  each bordered in yellow gold? He is a hunk, no doubt of that.

Jeff

The Excitement Of A Fresh Flight

Edwards Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, OH

I’m struggling to count the number of times it has happened to me. How many times have I come up a finite area of habitat . . . with a fresh flight of butterflies aloft? That’s, how many times have I arrived at a destination, to find alot of butterflies, all of the same species, and all very recently eclosed (exited from their chrysalises)?

Magical Adams County, Ohio treated me with a double-header in June 2016. I waded into Lynx Prairie to gape at this Edward’s Hairstreak, spectacular in its reds, blues, gray, white and black as well as dozens of others, perhaps 40 Edward’s about. They were some resting as this one, while others were mobbing Butterflyweed and other wildflowers. I wanted a capture like this one, of the beauty of their Edward’s’ ventral hindwings. I am satisfied that this one accomplishes that.

I somehow managed to get separated from my friends that day. That is not the first time that has happened to me. I’ve quit joining tours in the field, for tour leaders well, hate me, for when I see something that fascinates me, in habitat or in a museum, I get lost in my enthusiasm, and kind of put the tour off schedule, as in “Where’s that guy, Jeff?”

So, very separated from the others in the sizable Lynx Prairie Reserve, I came upon yet another prairie, and OMG!! I found a lifer for me (!!!) a Northern Metalmark butterfly. Then a 2nd one, a 3rd one and soon had seen more than 40 Edward’s Hairstreaks, all fresh and yummy to the eyes.

Lynx Prairie, just miles from the Ohio/Kentucky border drove me nuts! that day, late in June. Two new butterflies for me, and large flights of so so fresh ones at that.

It was a very rewarding Thank You G-d day for me. A very nourishing day for my eyes and a fine adrenaline wash for Jeff. Such days remain long remembered.

Jeff

Sweet HolyLand Copper

Lycaena Phlaes Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

Almost 4 hours on that wonderful meadow in the full Israeli sun. It was me and lots of blues and copper butterflies, within sight of Mt. Hermon, just at the perimeter of the little village of Neve Ativ. We’re on the slope of the mighty mountain. Many battles were fought here, and now peace reigns, and there are so many Lycaenidae butterflies at hand, that I am careful picking and choosing which to expend film for.

This tiny copper butterfly, Lycaena phlaeas timeus charmed me, and I returned the favor, shooting away, and scoring this sweet capture. Among the bounty I shot that day, reward for sure for driving up the steep, narrow, winding road to get to Neve Aviv. I remember thinking, what would happen if I round the next sharp curve, and suddenly an 18-wheeler is coming the other way! Yes Ma’am that’s exactly what happened next. Don’t like such, and there I was, thankfully on the inside lane, nearly scraping the mountain outcrop to my right!!

The only thing missing that morning, or the other mornings, was Y-O-U.

Jeff

The State of Awe

 

Black Swallowtail butterfly and chrysalis, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch, Eatonton, GA

When I review the many hundreds of images stored in our Media Library, I often stop scrolling down at this one. This photo of an Eastern Black Swallowtail? An affirmative one for me.

It buoys me up in so many ways. This is why I get up at 4:30 A.M. and struggle to get out of the house on time, to drive to the morning’s destination, Oh! so hoping that I can cop a winner of an image or two.

This shot reminds me that each and every foray in the bush may bring me face to face with unequaled beauty and wonder.

Then too it tempers my never diminished excitement, ongoing and burning, so many years (decades) into the pursuit of butterflies common and OMG! rare.

I’m brought to a smile, as I consider how the very same fascination I felt when I was a boy, in those disappearing empty ‘lots’ of Brooklyn, New York waxes true now, decades later.

Those hundreds of sceptical looks, after being asked “What do you do [now]?” The resigned looks from family, unable to tell their friends that I now own NYNY real estate, much, as I once did and now photograph not horses, nor grizzlies, nor whales, nor tigers, but  . . . butterflies.

The thrill of the looooong drive to another state, actually finding the habitat sought, and now maybe, maybe meeting a butterfly as shmeksy! as this one here and G-d willing, capturing an image of it, and a good one at that . . . and having Jeffrey, Phyllis, Lauren, Leslie, Cathy, Rose, Jim, Virginia, Barbara Ann, Laurence, Linda, Angela, Melanie, Deepthi, Nancy, Joanne, Marcie, Phil, the Mikes, Jeffrey and Mr. Pyle Comment nicely.

All that and me knowing that G-d has shared with me a bit of the Great Beauty about us.

I smile, for I understand, that more often then some, I am fortunate to be in the State of Awe.

Jeff