Regal Fritillaries Mating

Mating Regal Fritillary Butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

What has disappeared from 99.6% of their original range? They have. Regal Fritillary Butterflies no longer are found in the 16 east coast U.S. states, with the exception of one colony in Pennsylvania and a semi-secret colony in Virginia. Gone from their grasslands, gone from their wet swales and gone from their boggy wetlands. Gone.

Last year I jumped at the opportunity to visit the Pennsylvania colony, not too far from the state capitol, Harrisburg. I have posted images from that day on wingedbeauty. They have generated solid traffic, for many know how rare Speyeria idalia is. Unable to skip work or responsibilities, so many of us can’t visit endangered butterflies, time does not allow.

I went in June 2015. Wanted to see them for more than 14 years. I went to this military reservation, Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, joined the huge group (130 guests!), and, and, it was wonderful. Just wonderful. Regals flew here, and there, and there, and here. The grassland (meadow!) was huge, and the large group began to break up, until I was alone with another guest, and a naturalist on the Post’s wildlife management staff.

Here is an image I was thrilled to capture. A male and female mating, coupled together in silent, motionless bond. Their ventral white spots shone. I shot away, Happy boy! was I, almost alone with Regals, beautiful butterflies whose ancestors flew from Maine to North Carolina, and are now counted as the rarest of the rare.

Blessed was I to go, to see, and as here, to share poignant evidence that we are not doing the best we can, with what we have been given. Native Americans? Their lands? Heck, the entire land mass that is the United States. Regal fritillary butterflies? Down to 0.4% of their native habitat.

I share a coupled pair of Regal fritillary butterflies with you. Will your grandchildren be able to go see them, and share their images of Regals?


Shooting Darners

Darner dragonfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

Darner dragonfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

Find me one, one experienced nature photographer who passes a posing darner, poised on a twig or dried flowerhead. It just cannot be done. OK, sometimes we pause to get a look, then continue on the trail, reluctant to use time, good light or for me, film.

My experience once you make that brief stop? 90% of the darners and their closely related species flee, before you have a chance to get a good look, or try for a decent exposure. That contributes to future greater and greater reluctance to give darners serious attention.

All that shared, a shmeksy! darner represents a Challenge! If you enjoyed baseball, football, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, boxing, knitting, sewing, painting, tinkering, building scooters from wooden fruit cartons (Brooklyn, NY), then you understand why I Stopped! and followed my Technique protocol, on that trail on Mt. Meron, 7,000 miles from my Pittsburgh home.

We have been visited by friends in more than 85 countries. Is this darner limited solely to Israel, to the Middle East at large, Asia and/or Africa, Europe?

Maybe we will be offered info from here and there.