Not easy to do. I was meticulously scouring the meadows surrounding this small moshav on the slopes of Israel’s Mt. Hermon. Snow on Hermon’s peak, as well as sporadic overflow of conflict at the north base of Hermon (Syrian army, Hezbollah, Iranian fighters, Russian ‘advisors, Syrian ‘rebels,’ US advisors, North Koreans and who knows who else) foreclosed my working the top of this grand mountain.
What was flying in those meadows surrounding Neve Aviv? Mostly blues, coppers, the occasional fritillary and the rare parnassian. April 2017, and Jeff was anxious to find one of those rare blue butterflies that are found on this majestic mountain, at the northereastern border of the HolyLand.
Now the hard part. It’s working with this good enough image to identify which blue we have before us. Just as we are all different, so too are butterflies within the same species different from each other.
Our identification here must be based upon the markings on this individual. The orange spots, the black spots, the marking that we see just inside of the ventral wing margins, the rich blue of the regions close to the body.
Until one of the several Israeli butterfly authorities weigh in, I am, with the single resource before me, A Field Guide To The Butterflies of Israel by Dubi Benyamini, citing this one as Pseudophilotes vicrama astabene. Done.
Forget making an appointment to meet a Red Admiral butterfly. They just never show up! It’s futile to think that if you at a certain garden or trail, at a certain time, that you’ll meet up. Does not happen.
This is the butterfly of Unscheduled Stops. Seemingly no itinerary, they make fly in and nectar briefly, ‘though most of the time they disregard your blooms, and if do they show, they land on your garden walk, inspect that all is as it should be, and are soon gone.
When they do make an appearance, experienced butterfly lovers recognize that immediately, what with those bright reddish-orange stripes crossing each forewing. There’s nothing like them.
Me? Their name, Vanessa has always transfixed me. Vanessa, such a mystical name. Then my mind goes to that actress whom I have no patience for, Vanessa Redgrave, whose politics leave a bad taste in my mouth. Why did she have to get such an otherwise wild name?
I’ve not seen many Red Admirals this 2017. The last one I saw was in Lynx Prairie Preserve, in Adams County, Ohio. Of course I saw it for moments, as it promptly left, as is their habit, leaving you abruptly, wondering, “What’s the rush?”
Sylbie shoots away, and the pair move to my upper arm.
I scan the images in wingedbeauty’s ‘Media Library‘ when I prepare to post anew, and truth be told, I always pause when I see this series of images, shot last year, 2016 in the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia.
Pause, to reflect on how happy I was. How thankful I was. How emotional those 10 or 15 minutes were, when Sylbie Yon arrived unexpectedly, and that pair of Eastern Black Swallowtails, coupled tightly together, flew onto me.
Since Frieda Z”L passed, butterflies have brought me to tears, several times. They so evoke Her Memory, and so flummox me when that rush is triggered. The initial moment of loss/despair . . . vanishes quickly, and it’s replaced by how much Love there was, and support there was for this well, different (to most) passion of mine. And, how such floods of beauty are extraordinary, yet so very real.
in the beginning of this odyssey, family and friends struggled to understand. Photographing butterflies? Won’t make you rich? Sends you into swamps (mosquitoes), meadows (ticks), fens (travel to see a meadow ?). Came the time when those family and friends became resigned to what I do, and on the rare occasions that I showed up in an image, noted, more often than not, The Smile of a Lifetime. A fine Rx, No?
NB, Have you seen the “Jeff’s Earring“series, with the click-on button at the top of your screen?
A bust out! butterfly for me, 7,000 miles from my home, there he is, I found this one and some others. The Blue Arab butterfly, Colotis phisadia. Tel Aviv? No. Jerusalem? No. The Mediterranean coast? No. Galilee? No. Golan? No.
To see this unusual ‘white’ butterfly, you had to travel in Israel, to its eastern borders, at the Dead Sea, or to the eastern Sinai desert, where for sure you’d be kidnapped by who knows what terrorist group, or by just as interesting locals.
Me, I took a train from Binyamina, Israel south to Beersheva, then a bus to Ein Gedi. I stayed several days in the SPNI field houses there. I hiked from the field house where I stayed to this Wadi (sizable dry river bed). Along the side of the wadi I found them, Blue Arabs. Sooo difficult to approach, nearly impossible to get a good macro- image, and the sun pouring down hot all the time.
I wanted my own images of the Blue Arab. I had hoped that you’d enjoy seeing a butterfly that is different, and that won’t come to you. You’d have to come to it, in the boiling sun, in wadis far, far from Madison, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, Frewsburg or Silver Spring.
Congrats! for you’ve seen the uncommon Blue Arab butterfly. Other places to see them? Jordan, that Sinai ( again, loaded with terrorists ), and Saudi Arabia.
Look! Look! There she was in our very own ‘peanut garden’ this afternoon. What a rush it was to watch her, superbly fresh and lush, working this 2017 benchmark garden. I kept going to the our large window, again and again to see if she was still there. She was still there, and she worked these native perennials for more than an hour. Our very own garden, now in its 5th year, and full, verdant with nectar here there and everywhere.
She was chased off several times by an equally pretty Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly. Royal as she is, our monarch patiently allowed the frenzied fritillary to do its thing, and each time she floated back in. What kept her highness in the peanut garden for more than an hour?
The peanut garden is in our side yard, and our side yard abuts Frick Park, a heavily wooded Pittsburgh (city) park of many hundreds of acres. The natives and others in the peanut garden: Common milkweed; Swamp milkweed; Butterflyweed; Monkeyflower; Celery (in flower), Bergamot, Balloon flower; Buttonbush, Shrubby St.John’s wort, Green headed coneflower, Rue and Chocolate mint. All 3 of the milkweeds (Asclepias spp) are in height of bloom, and buff! very buff.
The instant monarch butterfly shown here was not the flier today. This photo is of another female, who flew in Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania. Today’s monarch’s colors were deeper, richer. She was . . . gorgeous.
How much do I hope that she rewards us with her eggs?