Red-Spotted Purple . . . Seeking R-E-S-P-E-C-T

On A Beauty Scale Of 1 To 10 . . . with 10 Being . . . ?

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Red-Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 7/26/07

Don’t know why it is so difficult, although on the other hand, approaching Limenitis arthemis astyanax usually is fruitless, as they flee, just as you’ve gotten into position to click your shutter button. In this instance, our Red-spotted purple feels assured that it is 100% hidden from me, enabling me to set myself and shoot away.

Here at Raccoon Creek State Park, 35 minutes west of Pittsburgh (once the steel capitol of the world), they usually are first seen in June. They are not familiar to most people who encounter them. They almost never are seen nectaring on flowers. The females try to stay away from biggies like humans, and the males are most often seen taking moisture on trails. Watching hikers and strollers approaching these butterflies on a trail is fascinating. As they approach the Red-spotted purple, Average Hiker/Naturalist’s LOUD footsteps (vibrating through the substrate) trigger quick flight…

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⅓ of a Second to Success!

Allancastria Deyrollei (female), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Neve Ativ, Israel

I had already found the ‘Protected’ Allancastria cerisyi speciosa butterfly in the extreme northwestern corner of Israel. I love them and have already written and posted about their beauty. Israel also enjoys another swallowtail species, Archon apollinus bellargus, the subject of this post.  A. apollinus flies in Northeastern Israel and in Central Israel.

On my second drive to the north, I stayed in SPNI Hermon, the Society for the Protection of Nature‘s field house at the foot of Mt. Hermon. Driving up the foothills of Hermon mountain, I turned into the small moshav (village) of Neve Ativ. I parked and worked the meadows around the village. It turned out to be a good plan, with butterflies flying in good numbers. Some of these would be great finds, for Mt. Hermon sports many extra rare butterfly species.

I had my eyes open for A. apollinus. Over a period of three hours, I saw three of them. They would not tolerate any approach, each zooming away when I got within 15 feet of them. That compounded my resolve to find and photograph one.

On my approach to a small retaining pond, I nearly stepped on this one! It had been sunning itself with wings spread out. Battle stations!! I knew I had something like ⅓ of a second to make my approach, and score macro-images. I moved more quickly than I usually do, smoothly, but quickly. She remained in place. I took one photograph after the other, shooting multiples of 3/camera clicks.

She was spectacular, and this image shares much of it, with yellows, blacks, reds, blues and whites artfully displayed. Compliments to the Master! Then the A. apollinus (or False Apollo) zoomed away!