Rare Holy Land Butterfly Half Mile from the Border

Allancastria Cerisyri butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

The older I get, the more I marvel at how the world continues to see people who want to conquer, invade and rule over others. My father served, Infantry in World War II, and Jack Zablow A”H (Of Blessed Memory) told me he served so that I’d never have to. Sadly, I did, and had to.

This image of a rare, Protected butterfly, Allancastria Cerisyi speciosa is fondly remembered by me. I wanted to find and shoot them, and no one told where to find them. I scheduled my trip to Israel for April, and I used my Israeli butterfly field guide to guesstimate where they ‘ought’ to be. The morning I drive to Hanita, the town nearby, I roamed a bit, and . . . it was early, and I found them. maybe 30 of them, fresh, beautiful and active. I felt like Wow! finding a rare, protected HolyLand butterfly, a butterfly whose habitat is limited, a rare butterfly. That kind of happiness reduces me, momentarily, to feeling like a 15-year old boy who scores the winning jumpshot in that E. 56th Street, Brooklyn park basketball court! !-for Emphasis.

While I was scouring that area for this rare Parnassian (cousin to swallowtails), I sure kept in mind that the “Hot” border to Lebanon was just 1/2 mile away, and at that border, there were barbarian Hezbollah terrorists. That kind of heightened awareness itself reminded me of growing up, where I grew up. Thank G-d I too made it, eventually leaving those streets in one whole piece.

Jeff

A Special Image From The HolyLand

Allancastria Cerisyi butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

These cold days are upon us, even though we reached 74 degrees Fahrenheit today in Eatonton, Georgia. A couple of hardy Cloudless Sulphur butterflies show themselves briefly, but this summers gangs of butterflies are absent.

Me? I fill this butterfly near vacuum with thoughts, thoughts of those amazing experiences I’ve enjoyed in the past.

He’s a fine male Allancastria Cerisyi seen several years ago near the village of Hanita, at the northeastern tip of Israel. I timed that trip to the HolyLand carefully. These rare, protected Parnassian butterflies fly briefly, fly only in April each year. They are only found near Hanita.

I stayed at the time with my family in Mishmarot, and drove my rental car to this area, at the Mediterranean Sea. I followed my map carefully, and . . . I found them!!

A special image this is for me, for only one in 10,000,000 Americans have ever seen A. Cerisyi. I enjoy dwelling on that, I do.

Jeff

Parnassian Butterfly East of the Mississippi?

Allancastria Cerisyis butterfly (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

Irony that. I flew 7,000 miles, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Israel to see my first Parnassian butterflies. The continental USA has 2 species of these wondrous beauties, the Phoebus Parnassian and the Clodius Parnassian, as few as some 2,000 or so miles from Pittsburgh. Finding the HolyLand Parnassians turned out to be a tad easier, for Israel is a tiny little country, the western USA is enormous, and I would not have a clue as to where to search.

That said, you may be a bit surprised that America does not have Parnassians butterflies, closely related to our swallowtail butterflies, east of the Mississippi River. That may well have something to do with the parnassian’s preference for higher elevations.

This Allancastria cerisyi was a learning experience for me. I wanted to find them, and find them I did. They are rare, protected butterflies. The learning curve for me was, determine which rare butterfly you want to shoot, pinpoint the limited range (in this case, a narrow strip of Mediterranean shoreline at Israel’s northwestern corner), learn what you can about your objective, and go there. I rented a room in a nearby SPNI (Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel) field house, and started out that morning early, very, very early. Several fruitless stops later, I noticed a nature park on the outskirts of the little Moshav (village) of Hanita. I parked, suited up for my field work, and within minutes . . . I found them, some nectaring and some still stationary, warming themselves in the morning sun. Bingo!

This play of yellow, black, red and yes, blue tickles my fancy. Better yet they are rare, but not rare once you time it right, and you located them in their certain habitat.

I cannot expect to ever forget that morning. Mission accomplished, mission electrifying.

Jeff

 

Middle Eastern Parnassian (Israel)

Allancastria Cerisyi butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

How many species of Parnassian butterflies are there in Israel? There are four of them. This is Allancastria cerisyi speciosa. It flies for a brief time in June, along the northwestern coast of Israel, with the Mediterranean Sea just miles away. It is a rare Protected species, and I played a hunch that I might find them in Hanita, a moshav in that seaside strip. My timing was perfect and here’s one of these beauties. He had just left his night-time perch, and we met as he bathed in the strong rays of the Israel morning sun.

So Israel sports four Parnassians. How many Parnassians are native to the U.S.A.? Remember the U.S.A. is what? 500 times bigger than Israel? Answer? Three Parnassians fly in the U.S.A. and of the three, only one flies only in Alaska. Then, two Parnassians fly in continental U.S.A..

I have never seen an American Parnassian butterfly. What say you?

Jeff

Me? I’m Dreaming . . . of 2017

Allancastria Cerisyi butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

Here we are in late October of ’16. We here in southwestern Pennsylvania now see an Orange sulphur butterfly here and there. Maybe a worn Mourning cloak butterfly in Frick Park or in Raccoon Creek State Park. Virginia and friends daily share on Facebook, Monarchs, Swallowtails, Gulf Fritillaries and American Ladies. We are checking where we left our snow shovels, Virginia, Stanley, Nancy, Cathy and Marcie are stalking butterflies.

Somehow that got me to thinking of my next trip to my grandsons in Israel. Two hours waiting for my Pittsburgh flight to New York, then some 3-5 hours wait for my El Al flight to Ben Gurion International airport in Tel Aviv. Meet my daughter Rachel at the beautiful airport, then we rent a Hertz car and drive the 1-hour plus to her home, north of Hadera, not too far from mysterious Caeseria.

Three, perhaps 4 weeks as Rachel’s guest, in their bomb shelter equipped 3rd bedroom . . . and at least 2 long drives north, to the Upper Galilee and north Golan regions. Objectives? #1 Butterflies. #2 Wildflowers and especially rare Orchids and Irises.

In the Galilee and Golan, I pass, see, photograph next to Christian sites that would so excite so many of you. Yet, to date, not a single taker, to my suggestion, book when I do, and let’s roam . . . .

Oh, and what the Media scares you with, that Israel is dangerous, is a whole lot of Hooey (whatever Hooey is).

On a recent trip, I set out to find an endangered swallowtail-relative, Allancastria cerisyi. Well here he is. I found them near a small Galilee village. They fly wildly, and then, unexpectedly, stop, and well, pose. 10-15 exposures, and Zoom!! gone. Then I went on to find the next male, and repeated this minuet. The females, well they were mostly hiding, but when I found one, she usually stuck around a bit, as I softly whispered to her. Totally Fun, and very Rewarding that! Funny, quite rare, but if you find them . . . there they are. Amazing I think.

Jeff