War! War! War!

Cow Grazing on Mt. Hermon photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

We’ve posted this image some time ago. Our bovine  was grazing at the peak of Mt. Hermon, Israel. I was there with my guide, Eran Banker, photographing butterflies. There are species of butterflies that are only found at higher elevations on Mt. Hermon and nowhere else. If you visit that post, you will be reminded that Eran encountered a land mine there, as we roamed the mountaintop. That sure got my attention, and I stopped stepping off the primitive trails  and limited myself to tried and true terra firma. That caused much frustration, because it was if they knew it, and those butterflies surely teased me from then on.

We were prevented from going back there in June. The mountain was Closed. Why? Look again at this photo. You are viewing Syria in the background. Cow foreground, Syria background. Syria is at War! with itself. War! however you categorize it. That horrific conflict has grabbed our headlines here in the U.S. and all around the world.

So Mt. Hermon is closed. That’s why when I photographed about 1/4 up the mountain this year, Israeli planes were going up and down, up and down, and up and down nearby valleys…scouring the land for any variety of infiltrator. Sad, tragic stuff, No?

We won’t be revisiting these northernmost Golan peak for years, if ever again? There are killing fields below.

We will shortly be posting additional images that we got on that peak, many thousands of feet above sea level. Butterflies living under the surveillance of Israel, Syria, Lebanon, the U.N. and surely somehow, several other nations, including the United States of America.

Crazy stuff. Violent, inhumane behavior. Butterflies flying carefree in habitat within range of missiles, mortars, cannon fire and WMD? Incredible, don’t you think?



Photographing Spicebush Swallowtail Butterflies is a Challenge

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly at Rector, PA

The time is now. Spicebush Swallowtails are feasting on Swamp Milkweed, also called Asclepias incarnata flower clusters. Wings fluttering furiously. Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. Number of butterfly species seen there to date? 62.

Photographing Spicebush butterflies on wildflowers is a challenge. They move incessantly. We must wait for good positioning, prepare fast shutter speeds as I was shooting manually, using slide film. Then I make that slow-mo approach. Once the left knee rests safely on the ground, less than 3′ from the butterfly. We’ve not lost the opportunity, then it’s shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. If it’s a fresh one, like this one, we may shoot 40-50 exposures.

Papilio troilus is a fast flier and most often seen flying 7′ – 10′ above the ground, often along trails or through forest. Less well know then other swallowtails, Spicebush deserve more, for they are flying gems. Flying gems.

I saw one this morning as I was watering the petunias, day lilies and roses in our front garden. How beautiful are they?


Finding a Wetland Skipper Butterfly at the Edge of a Wet Southern Woods

Skipper Butterfly at Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge, MS

Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge was an excellent Mississippi destination for photographing butterflies. This May 2010 day did not disappoint.

Poanes yehl is a wetland skipper and that’s where we found it, at the edge of wet southern woods.

It took a bit of research for me, unaccustomed as I am to southern U.S. butterfly species.

As with most skippers this Yehl is an active nectarer.

Mississippi abounded with wildlife and Yazoo NWR kept me busy with Oohs and Aahs!


Why are Male Butterflies More Likely to Seek Minerals?

Eastern tailed blue photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

He’s our 2nd post of an Eastern-Tailed  Blue butterfly. Our first post offers a ventral (underside) wing of the wings.

Here the dorsal (upper) wing surface blares the fantastic blue of a fresh, healthy male ETB. Experts use the ‘ETB’ shortcut to identify individuals of this butterfly species.

About in June on a moist trail at Raccoon Creek State Park, he is taking up water and all of those minerals that we learned about on that beloved Periodic Table of Elements. Why are males more likely to be seeking minerals? Because males spend much of their day flying around searching for females. This extended flight time results in a good deal of protein wear and tear and . . . they’ll need fresh mineral caches to synthesize brand-new protein molecules (these elements are part of the make-up of different protein molecules).

Everes comyntas prefer trails and cut and disturbed areas and you’ll see them from April to late September. When disturbed they fly as short distance, close to the ground and set down perhaps 20 feet down trail.

The ladies don’t have blue above. Instead their dorsal wing color is gray.

How large are ETB’s? Tiny, about the width of your thumbnail. But . . . they’re pookies, perky, waif-like and pretty, especially their black and orange/red markings (see our other posting).

Where are they during February? They winter over as (eggs, papa, larva, adults). Which is it?