Years and years went by before this day. The day I finally, after much effort on my part to see them, finally met them. Where was this? Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, not far from the capitol of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. NABA totally rebuffed my requests, then the Ft. Indiantown Gap Reservation’s annual June limited access program let me meet them. Yes, I’m still displeased that I had to wait so long . . .
I’m still puzzled, though. 200 years ago, Regal Fritillary Butterflies still flew within walking distance of my childhood home in Brooklyn, New York City. Today, they no longer can be found in 99.999% of their former range east of the U.S.’s Mississippi River. They fly only here where you see this one, and I’m told, on another military reservation in that state of Virginia.
They prefer rich meadows, full of the Butterflyweed you see here, and Common Milkweed. What bothers me is the total absence of any explanation for their disappearance from their historical ranges. Our cell phones amaze, our computers are incredibly advanced, our car and planes would not be believed by folks just 20 years ago. Our universities all have incredibly advanced research capability and our organizations, like the aforementioned National Butterfly Association and Xerces and the National Audubon Society, etc. urge their membership to do more and more.
Why has no one offered an explanaton for the disappearance of the Regal Fritillary butterfly from my old East Flatbush neighborhood? From the entire state of New York? New Jersey? Maryland? Virginia? West Virginia? North Carolina? South Carolina? Tennessee? Georgia, my home now? Why?
A response of a single word,’Development’ isn’t enough, anymore.
Many of us know the beauty of a fresh Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly. When I lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I’d go to Nichol Field, their 100+ acre meadow. On those summer mornings I’d often see dozens of Great Spangled Fritillaries, in that amazing meadow. I’d sometimes see Ranger Patrick Adams those mornings, and I’d congratulate him on nurturing such a glorious meadow at Raccoon Creek State Park.
Every once in a while, when I would wade into the chest high grass there, I’d spy a smaller, different Fritillary butterfly. It flew in an almost awkward manner, flew low, and I’d become electrified! A Meadow Fritillary butterfly! Here’s one that cooperated, stopping to nectar while I shot away.
Seeing a Meadow Fritillary was exciting, for others were bemoaning the increasing absence of Meadow Frits. Jeffrey Glassberg in A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America noted an “expanding range in some areas while disappearing from others.” He sure was correct, for they seem to have become much less common in western Pennsylvania.
Seeing a Meadow Fritillary? Energizing!
Lycaena phlaes Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel
Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)
I’m enjoying posts shared by so many who like me are anxious for the winter of 2020 to end. Their posts of Spring-Summer-Fall butterflies wet our appetites. It’s so close to the time that we check our stuff, and head out to see and shoot G-d’s winged beauties.
Enjoy with me here 2 of those moments of ecstasy.
The first is a Copper butterfly met on the lower slope of Mt. Hermon in the HolyLand’s Golan region. Lycaena phlaeas. Fragile, beautiful, perky, purposeful sipping that nectar . . .
That’s me at Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation’s expansive meadow, photographing the very rare Regal Fritillary Butterfly. I crouch there, thinking that this exquisite Fritillary used to fly where I was a boy in Brooklyn, New York, and it’s range is now limited to this meadow in central Pennsylvania and another meadow on a restricted military site in Virginia.
Moments of Ecstasy. Admission price?
Scrolling down through our hundreds of Media Library images, I’m always amazed at how rare many of them are. Better yet is the acknowledgement that they are all . . . my images. Written arias? No. Climbed Mt. Everest? Been a lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers? Became an US Army Ranger/Marine? Ended up a real estate billionaire? No to all.
Coped some valuable butterfly images? A resounding YES.
Here we are on a hot day (96F ?) on the peak of Israel’s Mt. Hermon, in the company of my guide, Eran. I knew that there were as many as 12 butterflies found there, that were not found anywhere else.
In flew this male Melitaea persea, and he is fresh! I made my patented approach, down on my stomach, and he complied, remaining in place, nectaring on these tiny blooms. I shot away. Few in the world have such images, few. Thus I enjoyed a Ralph Waldo Emerson Success experience.
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!).