This lush set of blooms was met in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. Our garden in Eatonton, Georgia now has them. We’ve had good success growing new plants from our own seed.
Without checking the internet, I think that these Butterflyweed milkweeds are native to most states east of the Mississippi River. I found them lush and strong in Lynx Prairie Reserve in southern Ohio and just as beautiful in that 100+ acre meadow at Ft. Indiantown Gap in central Pennsylvania. On them at Lynx Prairie were Edwards Hairstreaks, Coral Hairstreaks, Monarchs, Great Spangled Fritillaries and more. On them at Ft. Indiantown Gap were Regal Fritillaries (Wow!!), Monarchs, Coral Hairstreaks and more.
Search for them too early in June, and you won’t find their flowers in bloom. Search for them too late in July, and again, too late for blooms.
They are super terrific flowers for attracting butterflies, but . . . they only attract butterflies when those flowers are mature, lush and my own experience is that they mostly attract butterflies and moths and wasps from about 9:45 AM to 10:40 AM..
You can beg, cajole or threaten whatever, but that’ll not help. They bloom when they bloom, and when they are ripe and ready, they are easy to spot and fantastic! beacons for butterflies and more. They do occasionally support Monarch caterpillars, but seem to be a milkweed of last resort.
And, they do great in most gardens, preferring sunny, moist spots.
I was taken with their name, Regal Fritillary Butterfly. They once flew where my childhood house is, in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood. The British troops and the Hessian troops saw them, during their march to surround George Washington’s men on the island of Manhattan.
I’d never seen Regals, and I wanted to meet them. A nearly 3-hour drive in June, to Ft. Indiantown Gap, a military post near Harrisburg, New York, made this image possible.
I was put off by the crowd that showed up that morning! Nearly 150 people, if you include the naturalist guides provided by Ft. Indiantown Gap. That well-managed program soon had us broken off into many groups, and mine was just 4 people.
We saw many Regals (Yay!!!) and Monarchs and Coral Hairstreaks and Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies. The sight of my first ever Regal Fritillary? A rush, truth be told.
I spotted this pair of coupled Regals, and to this day, I equate that to pounding a triple against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium itself!
Regals, found in only 2 meadows in the Eastern USA. That, folks, is sadder than dirt.
I think so. When I first visited Adams County, Ohio, Lynx Prairie Reserve treated me to my first wild Coneflower. To that point, a rich lifetime, I had presumed that coneflowers were non-native cultivars. How thrilled I was that morning, to learn that they are 100% American!
Perched on this coneflower, this Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly is another American icon. Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to Butterflies has them present in almost all continental US states, except for Arizona, Texas, Mississippi and Florida. This big butterfly is born & bred USA.
This then is an American iconic view, Great Spangled Fritillary perched on Coneflower. I must add that Ohio, where these were seen, has been the most welcoming, giving, sharing of the 48 U.S. states, for I’ve enjoyed more self-less butterfliers and orchid seeking and wildflower lovers there than in any other state I’ve visited. Thanks Angela, Deb, Dave, Flower, Joe and others.
Melitaea Persea Montium butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow on Mt. Hermon, Israel, 6/16/08
Twenty five years of photographing butterflies has left me with rich memories, and a treasure trove of images. Many of those images are much like yours, fine captures of relatively common butterflies, here in the USA.
Several of my own are of butterflies that are found only in inaccessible, challenging and little travelled places. This is one of those, a Melitaea Persia montium Fritillary butterfly on the peak of Mt. Hermon, Israel, the HolyLand.
Down the road, I have no idea where my slide collection and scanned images will find a home, but here, now I am pleased, very, that I have some very rare, unique and can I say beautiful images of butterflies in the HolyLand, where They walked and stopped to admire these very same winged beauties?
There surely were 30,000,000 or more Regal Fritillary Butterflies when George Washington was President of the United States. That’d be 30 million Regals flying east of the Mississippi River. I have no doubt that they flew in my old neighborhood, East Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York in 1770.
Today, they fly only on 2 military reservations from the Mississippi to the Atlantic Ocean. The first is in central Pennsylvania and the other, is in the State of Virginia. In those places, expansive pristine meadows grow, protected and nurtured by the U.S. military.
I can’t even guess how many Americans have ever seen this handsome butterfly, once found in the tens of millions, and now rare, with perhaps 2,000. eclosed each year.
I’d been determined to see Regals, and when I finally saw them at Ft. Indiantown Gap, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, they were even more beautiful than I expected. Really.
Why now? This Butterflyweed, a milkweed, is now in bloom just about everywhere, and this is the week that Regals Fritillaries make their appearance.