We’re in Georgia now, gardening from the first week in February 2019 all the way to the last week in November? Gardening on my Jeffrey’s Birthday, November 28th?? This year, 2019, my Birthday falls on . . . Thanksgiving Day.
The prospect of gardening on Thanksgiving Day boggles my mind. It does. In Brooklyn, Queens, New York (Manhattan), Long Island and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the last week of gardening (I love to garden!) was usually the first week in September. Living in Middle Georgia has added +/- some 5 months of gardening to my life. Five months. That’s 5 months of seeing butterflies. I love that prospect, and Georgia so brings a smile to my face, Virginia, Ellen, Debi, Katy, Laura, Rabbi Aaron, Laura I., Rose, Kelly, Pandra, Sylbie, Brian, Stephen and Barbara Ann.
These memories, as this Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Pickerelweed in Laura’s Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, do necessitate a modicum of maturity, for once Pickerelweed finishes producing its gorgeous pond-side blooms, we’ve got to wait a full year to again enjoy such eye-soothing sights as this one here. (Yes we were in ankle deep pond, and yes we urged G-d to keep any Gators away from us, while we shot away!).
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.