Bergamots Now!

Bergamot Bloom photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania 7/31/14

Bergamot Bloom photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania 7/31/14

Bergamot is in bloom now. Raccoon Creek State Park in Hookstown, Pennsylvania has a more than 100 acre meadow that features a large stand of them. Be there at the right time in the morning, and you’ll enjoy the show: Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Great Spangle Fritillaries, Silver Spotted Skippers, Monarchs, Pipevine Swallowtails and Spicebush Swallowtails will visit Bergamot for its nectar.

Those stands of Bergamot are so sweet to the eye. The sea of pinkish purple (?) is a crowd pleaser, though I’ve never been there to hear what others think of that view.

If you’re there between about 9:45 A.M. and 10:40 A.M. the butterflies arrive from all directions. I’ve long wondered what’s in the nectar that is obviously being pumped in those 55 minutes? I’d think it included several sugars, some proteins and trace hormones, pheromones and fragrant hydrocarbons. Got a degree in Biochem? What’s in the nectar of a Bergamot bloom? Jerry?

Jeff

Evermore Milkweeds

Rare Asclepias photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

This one was spotted in Lynx Prairie Reserve in Adams County, Ohio. Angela and Joe served up its name, but I can’t now recall it. It’s a milkweed (“Whirled?”), though after decades of seeing Common Milkweed, this one defies and disrupts my formula for recognizing a milkweed. Butterflyweed, OK. Swamp milkweed, Sure. Just weeks ago I met my first White milkweed, and after minutes of ogling it, and got used to the reality of it.

This one though remains an enigma to me, as if G-d sought a milkweed to fill the role of ‘Clown’ of the North American milkweeds, and this one was summoned to center stage, and that was that, assignment filled, the Clown of the milkweeds . . .

Jeff

The Largest Monarchs?

Monarch Butterflies Coupled photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

We were in the perennial beds of the National Butterfly Center. It was seriously hot. Two miles from the Mexican border hot, there in Mission, Texas

The female Monarch butterfly flew in to Asclepias (milkweed). She was the largest Monarch I’ve ever seen. Make that the largest of what, 8,000 monarchs? Before I could make my patented approach, Whamo! this brute of a male Monarch landed on that same Asclepias. They communicated briefly, and then as fast as you can say ‘Howdy Doody’ they were coupled together in this embrace.

He is closest to you, she can be seen below her. Both were very, very large Monarchs. The Land of the Monarch giants!!

Jeff

The Regals Hold Court in June

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa - Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap. (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

You say you’ve seen a Goatweed Leafwing Butterfly, Great Purple Hairstreaks, Marine Blues, Diana Fritillaries and Eastern Pygmy Blues. Good for you.

Your chance to see a butterfly that once flew in my Brooklyn, and just about every state east of the Mississippi River, and today can only be seen in one limited meadow in mid-central Pennsylvania is just weeks away.

Each year the U.S. military conducts guided tours of that 100-acre meadow, it’s not too far from the state capitol of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There you will see your first Regal Fritillary Butterfly. I saw perhaps 20 to 25. They are magnificent, and they fly amidst Monarchs, Coral Hairstreaks and Great Spangled Fritillaries.

The guided tours take place in early June, and you must contact the Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reserve to register. Staff naturalists accompany the guests. 130 folks showed up for my tour, but we soon broke up into small groups, and that Friday was unforgettable. It was.

Jeff