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.
Dubbed the “world’s most widespread butterfly (Cech and Tudor, 2005),” this hunk is shown as he was seriously patrolling his territory at the remarkable arboretum, Ramat Hanadiv, in Israel. Imagine, the images of Painted lady butterflies shared in Butterflies of the East Coast (Princeton University Press) are nearly identical to this photo, despite the nearly 7,000 miles that separate these populations.
Sporting a wardrobe pleasing list of Vanessa cardui‘s best looks, including good-sized white spots amidst a wash of full black, eye-pleasing orangey-brown, white wing fringes, and hindwing eyespots dabbed with centers of baby-blue. All carefully patterned together to insure that we savor this show-stopper. Surely, receptive females will take note.
These gardens at Ramat Hanadiv are among my favorite destinations in Israel. The perennial gardens are lushly planted with gazillions of nectaring blooms, and, after a morning of photographing butterflies, the excellent cafe/restaurant is … right there, at the entrance to the planted beds. I have been going there for years now. Shoot until the sun gets too high…then walk 50 feet into the air- conditioned eatery for tasty gluten-free (for me, regular for y’all) selections + (of course) … dessert. Then walk another 100 feet to the generous parking lot, and off you go, satiated, smiling and mission accomplished. Good.