Made In China?

I used to find these in that empty ‘lot’ around the corner from my house in Brooklyn, in the 1950’s. I took for granted that like I, this mantid egg case was all-American. An American mantis’ eggs. Sturdy, resilient, strong for having weathered that long, low in the ’20’s winter before.

Not too long ago, I learned Uh Uh! No American, but instead an egg case for Chinese Mantids. What a bummer! For our many friends from other countries, that means what a Disappointment.

The great number of alien, non-native animals and plants in the United States, tens of thousands of species or more, is a shocker when you spend time thinking about that.

China? Sri Lanka? Norway? France? Mexico? New Zealand? And the wingedbeauty Friend from Estonia . . . do you see as many alien plants and animals in your country as we do in the United States?

Jeff

Metullah Mystery

Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Iron Falls, Metullah, Israel

During those many trips to Israel, the HolyLand, fritillary butterflies usually eluded me. I hadn’t seen too many of them. There were Frits that were commonly seen there, and there were Fritillary butterflies that were uncommon, rare and super hard to even find, much less photograph.

Back in 2008, I was fortunate to have found and photographed a Frit that is uncommon, and found only on the peak of Mt. Hermon. That cable car up to the 7,000 foot tall peak of Mt. Hermon was difficult for me, especially since my guide, Etan, razzed me for keeping my eyes closed much of the ascent and descent. Heck, getting in the moving skip lift seat was trouble enough!

2017, April, and back in Israel (2 grandsons!!), I wanted find find other uncommon Fritillary butterflies. Up to the Galilee-Golan I drove, with a border town, Metullah, my destination. Border town with Lebanon, a sad country that has been overtaken by some one hundred thousand Hezbollah terrorists. It was extraordinary to stand in a parking lot at the border, and look into Lebanon, where you and yours should not enter.

I didn’t find Fritillaries, and decided to roam a bit. I found a city park, Iron Park they called it. I entered, parked my rental car, and spent several hot hours working their trails. Almost no butterflies to be seen, and those I saw were jet-propelled.

Discouraged some, I hiked back to the entrance to the park, sat on a picnic bench, and proceeded to open and enjoy a Coco Loco bar. Incoming! A butterfly flew in at great speed, and landed on the ground, just 8 feet from me. A Fritillary!! Forgot the Coco Loco, grabbed my Canon with its Macro-ISM equipped lens, and s-l-o-w-l-y made my approach. Still good. I shot. Moved closer and shot and shot again.

Adrenaline. I had given up, had not expected that day to yield anything more, just a day of some familiar butterflies, and then, this promising one rocketed in, near my snack bench. Mama-Mia!

After she fled, I returned to the bench and reflected on what I do, why I do it, and how it can provide such a Rush to a guy who’s seen soo much in his life.

Yes, this, good image, is a bit of a tease, but I want to think that she is Melitaea Arduinna Evanescens. A rare, uncommon Protected species, found only in 2 areas of Israel, and only in April and May!!

A Metullah mystery . . . .

Jeff

I Prefer Females

Tiger swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

I managed to get there early, very early. The road to Raccoon Creek State Park, that 36.8 miles drive, took me through downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, through the Ft. Pitt Tunnel, and then through miles of what’s known as “Parkway West 376.” That morning I sailed through the entire route, with hardly any need to slow down or come to a total stop.

Parked my Tundra truck at the Rte. 168 entrance to the state park, and hiked Nichol Road trail, my favorite stretch of park. It was still not 8:30 A.M., and I’d already seen male Eastern Tiger Swallowtails flying at full speed along the trail. It’s been decades since I began photographing butterflies, and time has taught me that most male butterflies are not worthy of the time it takes to approach them, and then chase after them. What’s their rush? They spend 95% of their time flying fast, searching for receptive females. It’s a fool’s errand to chase after them, hoping in vain that they might stop for a moment to rest.

Then there she was! Resting as females do, she on a natives plant, just 3 feet or so above the trail margin. She was spectacular. She was in no rush to leave that perch. I prefer photographing female butterflies. They are often gorgeous and they dislike wasting time and energy, flying desperately here and there, as those males do.

At this point in my work, spotting a fresh, undamaged female butterfly is cause for a smile. They often agree to pose, are less likely to bolt, and their rich beauty means I might score a wonderful image.

A winged beauty, willing to model for you and me.

Jeff

One Of The Cousins (Arizona)

Empress Leila Butterfly photographed in White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona

There are three (3) closely related Emperor butterflies in the United States, the Asterocampa butterflies.

The most commonly seen Emperor is the Hackberry Emperor, Asterocampa celtis. It found in 40 states or more, mostly absent from the northwestern USA. Had one, a fresh one, in my yard, yesterday.

Less common is the Tawny Emperor, Asterocampa clyton, usually seen east of the Mississippi River, ands in 4 states west of the River.

Less common again is the Empress Leilia, Asterocampa leilia, known in 3 states bordering Mexico.

This one seen here is an Empress Leila. One of the amazing butterflies that I saw in that certain arroyo (boulder strewn dry creek bed). We played tag for quite a while until it finally relented, and agreed to allow me a handful of camera clicks. The Leilias I saw on those several trips to the arroyo never opened their wings for me, preventing me from sharing whether or not they were male or females.

Spending any time in an arroyo is not a good idea. A flash storm miles away can send a wall of water crashing towards you, and . . . . Now that I quietly reflect on that, I kinda feel like . . . .

White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona.

Jeff