We are always learning. Today I was very impressed with one of our most personable butterflies. Painted Ladies remind of that $100 word, ‘ubiquitous.’ They do seem to be just about everywhere, across these United States. Sure they are not seen everywhere everyday, but . . . they show up here, there and just about everywhere, at some time or another. I see them regularly when I travel to Israel, confirming for me their special status: the most widespread of butterfly species, around the entire world!
What did I learn today? Well, if you live in Ohio, where are your Ladies at this moment (December it is)? If you live in South Dakota, where are they now? Georgia? California? State of Washington? Oklahoma? North Carolina?
The truth about our Painted Ladies is, that they are a migratory species. Across much of the U.S. we are in winter now. Answer to this question? They are in . . . Mexico. Mexico. When Spring ’17 begins, they fly by the hundreds of millions north, spreading across America. Comes September, progeny of the Mexican generation takes to wing, and return to . . . Mexico. How do they do that? You tell me. Vanessa cardui. Vanessa!
Raccoon Creek State Park, Southwestern Pennsylvania? Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida Panhandle? Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Delmarva Peninsula, Maryland? Jamestown Audubon Center, Southwestern New York? West Don Park, Toronto, Canada. White Tank Mountains Regional Park, west of Phoenix, Arizona?
Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia? Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge, Mississippi? Frick Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?
Patti’s Colorado? Lynn’s Virginia? Jerry and Rose’s secret Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge swamp? Sylbie’s Rock Hawk Preserve in Putnam County, Georgia?
Nope, SPNI’s refuge reserve in the foothills of Mt. Hermon, at the northeastern tip of Israel, just several miles from murderous ISIS.
Isn’t it Amazing that Painted Lady butterflies are native to all of these places, and Central and South America and Asia and Africa and . . . Amazing.
Spokane, Washington? Eatonton, Georgia? Perry, Florida? Jamestown, New York? Toronto, Quebec? Phoenix, Arizona, St. Louis, Mo.? Lumberton, Mississippi? Central Park, New York?
No to all. This Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa Cardui) was nectaring in Northernmost Israel, at the foot of Mt. Hermon. I spent several days in the SPNI field house, my fourth furlough there. Their large nature reserve was rich in wildlife and botany, and it was March 2015, with millions of blooms of countless species.
Considered the most universal (widespread) of all butterflies species, it was, honestly, a shock to be 7,000 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the U.S., and see what? A Painted Lady? Nevertheless, this is H-s plan.
Oh, and how far was this one from ISIS, Hezbollah, regular Syrian troops, Syrian rebel forces and Al Queda? Less than 10 miles, about as far as some drive to the supermarket. Our world!
I did the near impossible, getting up when I did, and attending to all that I do before I drove to do my field work. I arrived at my destination at around 6:30 A.M.. Working the trail, I was soon electrified to see a goodly sized butterfly cross the trail in front of me. OMG! It was a Vanessa, Vanessa cardui. Flew right to a leaf just inches above the left side of the trail. Super. It wanted to absorb the warming rays of the sun. That meant that it might remain there for some time, and . . . might be approachable.
Now, the morning cup of coffee did wake me, but there must have still been residual yawn-power, because I thought: Hey wait! Where am I? Am I home (in Pittsburgh, PA)?
Where was this stunning Painted Lady butterfly? Fairbanks? Oxford, Mississippi? Green Bay, Wisconsin? Kississimmee Prairie Preserve in Okeechobee, Florida? Eatonton, Georgia? Montrodat, France? Sao Paulo, Brazil? Or was I in Odessa, Ukraine?
Well, I quickly came to my senses. We were on Mt. Meron, in the Upper, upper Galilee region of Israel. Our instant butterfly would have looked little different in any of the above wonderful destinations. Because . . . Painted Ladies are the most universal of all butterflies. Found on all continents, and varying little from here to there.