Regal Fritillary Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, Pennsylvania
Cech and Tudor’s Butterflies of the East Coast (Princeton University Press, 2005) shares them on page 160. I ordered this hefty field guide soon after it was published, and I’d been to page 160 dozens of times. Butterfly people remain difficult for me to understand, and my numerous attempts to contact folks who could enable a visit to Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reserve in central Pennsylvania got zero response. A bit warm under the collar after that, I still had not seen a Regal fritillary butterfly.
I remember reading that the Redcoats scored a big victory in the Revolutionary War because they outflanked the Patriots by . . . marching through my old neighborhood of East Flatbush in Brooklyn. I daydreamed of that day, and thought, Wow! those British guys must have been seeing Regals as they cut through where Clarendon Road and East 58th Street now intersect.
I’m not the easy traveller. I don’t like traveling much. The long, long drives, and especially the airports and the cramped economy seats, are hard although I did meet Patti and Aileen and some now distanced friends that way.
So, I thought long and hard about How much I wanted to meet a Regal butterfly. It’d mean a more than 3-hour drive, a stay in a hotel the night before, getting up bonkers early (I am slooooow in the morning), and joining some more than 149 people that next morning . . . with a forecast of a rainy early June day ahead.
I pushed myself to sign-up on line for that prescribed tour, led by naturalists employed by the military post. I made the drive, got to the hotel with time to spare, slept like a b-a-b-y and found Ft. Indiantown Ok. That large crowd began down the trail, led by the naturalists, and soon we all began to spread out on the trails. The more than 100 acre meadow enabled the crowd to thin, to where I was alone with another visitor and a very eager naturalist.
Rain? as forecast? No! Sun, no wind. Asclepias was in bloom, as were many other nectar magnets. Regals were nicely abundant, and just like you see here, they were very happy with the perfect butterflyweed.
Me? I was guardedly ecstatic. The Regals were beautiful, good size, flew with grace and poise and when they nectared, they pretty much tolerated careful approach.
Then why Regals? The effort, the money, the time, the indifference when I got home, the enthusiasm of some dozens of wingedbeauty.com followers and friends (when me thinks that thousands should have whooped it up!! knowing that Brooklyn got to see and shoot Regals)?
Truth be told, I loved it, I was super pumped, I was focused and I still remember that day, for a Fine Day It Was,