American Butterflies Magazine (Summer 2017) & Parnassian Mnemosyne

Parnassius mnemosyne butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, IsraelLevantine marbled white butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

I finished reading Harry Zirlin’s article in the Summer 2017 issue of American  Butterflies (NABA), and ‘Go Tell It On The Mountain’ by Zirlin is a tour of the US Parnassian butterflies. Funny that, I’ve not yet met an American parnassian butterfly, but did have that exciting meet-up with Parnassius mnemosyne syra on the peak of Mt. Hermon at the northern limits of Israel.

Harry brought back exciting memories of that day in June, and especially exciting was the moment when this beaut flew in and nectared on these ground-covering blooms!

This Israeli parnassian, distant cousin to the swallowtail butterflies, is a threatened species, and is found only on this 7,000 foot high mountain peak. It survives in an austere habitat, that also features still undiscovered land mines, from earlier battles on the mountain (Eran and I found one, before it found me!).

Jeff

Love the Blues, I Do

Common Blue Butterfly at Mt. Hermon, Israel

Common Blue Butterfly at Mt. Hermon, Israel photographed by Jeffrey Zablow ©2010, http://www.wingedbeauty.com

Tell me how many problems you have with the ‘common’ species name that they gave this butterfly, on the slopes of majestic Mt. Hermon, in Israel? The name? Common Blue Butterfly.

A blue that Frank Sinatra, Ole Blue Eyes, would’ve loved. The kind of blue that you drown in when you look into the eyes of anyone lucky enough to sport same. The class of blue on the finest china services of the very spoiled.

Here is my basis for continuing to shoot Fuji film. Love rich blues, browns, reds and more.

A ‘Common’ blue male, resting peacefully in the northernmost tip of Israel, in the Holyland, as surprised to see me as I was pleased to drink-in its privileged blue with my color thirst eyes.

Jeff

If I’m Correct . . . This Is The Only . . . .

Melitaea Persea Montium butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow on Mt. Hermon, Israel, 6/16/08

Just finished searching the internet for another photo of a live Fabriciana niobe philistra butterfly, on the internet. I could not find another. None. Ummm. We were on the peak of Mt. Hermon on June 16th, 2008. I was with Eran Banker, my guide. The objective: Scour this peak for any and all of the very rare butterflies found on it. Found nowhere else, in the world.

It was Very Very sunny, very hot . . . and very exciting. We saw some of the rarest of the butterflies that inhabit the peak. Most flew without enabling my approach, so no images of many. This one came in to nectar on these tiny little blooms. Ouch! A fritillary. There are endangered fritillaries on this mountain. Was this one of them?

At this time, utilizing the field guides available, and the internet, I come to conclude that this is a male Fabriciana niobe philistra. Not found down the mountain in Syria, or further west in Lebanon, or further south in Jordan. Only found on Mt. Hermon, in the summer!!

Is this the only image of a live Fabriciana niobe philistra? That would please me, much.

Jeff

2nd Dibs At Rare Butterflies?

Levantine marbled white butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

Jackpot! is how I felt when the very rare cousin flew to this wildflower. This tiny nectar pump of a bloom must have delivered enough nectar to keep this Parnassian there long enough. Long enough for me to shoot her out, and earn several good exposures of her. There at the peak of Mt. Hermon, with my hired guide, I relished these moments, knowing how much I wanted to see and photograph Parnassius mnemosyne. If I had found one at all, I would have expected it to be a male, for male butterflies are much more active then females, most spending 91.83% of their times flying, searching for hidden female suitors. That she came out when I was nearby, well, that was super terrific.

Doesn’t it take some reckoning to accept that she is closely related to swallowtail butterflies? More akin to a tiger swallowtail butterfly than to a cabbage white? How’d I get to the only place in the Middle East that P. mnemosyne can be found? A long drive up a mountain road that twists and turns, some of them nearly 90 degrees cut out of the mountain, and then a cable car ride up the mountain, challenging my, lets’s call it concern re: heights, and then a long hike across the peak of Mt. Hermon, arriving there on this arid peak, in 93 degree heat and unrelenting sun. And there was that land mine that Eran found, right where we were tracking butterflies.

Just back from Israel 6 days ago, this 2008 memory reminds me that we who search for butterflies, birds, darners, moths, cats, martens, snakes, . . . . probably all weigh a question. That question is: Though I have seen this Very rare butterfly some years ago, and copped some good images, . . . why is it that I keep thinking that I’d like to see her again? Is there any sound reason to search for her, and see her, again?

In this case the peak of Mt. Hermon looks down to the carnage of . . . Syria. A guide would again be needed, and even so, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) closes the mountain top to us, as necessary, and often without warning. Further in this case, there is the ‘icky’ knowledge that if you could return there, say 12 days ago when I was on the mountain, you would have been under near constant surveillance by the IDF, the UN, and Syrian, perhaps Russian, perhaps American and perhaps Iranian, and perhaps ISIL and perhaps Salafist . . . . Risky? All to see Parnassius mnemosyne and 10 or 11 other protected butterflies???

Jeff