Who’s Seen A Regal Fritillary?

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

There surely were 30,000,000 or more Regal Fritillary Butterflies when George Washington was President of the United States. That’d be 30 million Regals flying east of the Mississippi River. I have no doubt that they flew in my old neighborhood, East Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York in 1770.

Today, they fly only on 2 military reservations from the Mississippi to the Atlantic Ocean. The first is in central Pennsylvania and the other, is in the State of Virginia. In those places, expansive pristine meadows grow, protected and nurtured by the U.S. military.

I can’t even guess how many Americans have ever seen this handsome butterfly, once found in the tens of millions, and now rare, with perhaps 2,000. eclosed each year.

I’d been determined to see Regals, and when I finally saw them at Ft. Indiantown Gap, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, they were even more beautiful than I expected. Really.

Why now? This Butterflyweed, a milkweed, is now in bloom just about everywhere, and this is the week that Regals Fritillaries make their appearance.


One Of The Cousins (Arizona)

Empress Leila Butterfly photographed in White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona

There are three (3) closely related Emperor butterflies in the United States, the Asterocampa butterflies.

The most commonly seen Emperor is the Hackberry Emperor, Asterocampa celtis. It found in 40 states or more, mostly absent from the northwestern USA. Had one, a fresh one, in my yard, yesterday.

Less common is the Tawny Emperor, Asterocampa clyton, usually seen east of the Mississippi River, ands in 4 states west of the River.

Less common again is the Empress Leilia, Asterocampa leilia, known in 3 states bordering Mexico.

This one seen here is an Empress Leila. One of the amazing butterflies that I saw in that certain arroyo (boulder strewn dry creek bed). We played tag for quite a while until it finally relented, and agreed to allow me a handful of camera clicks. The Leilias I saw on those several trips to the arroyo never opened their wings for me, preventing me from sharing whether or not they were male or females.

Spending any time in an arroyo is not a good idea. A flash storm miles away can send a wall of water crashing towards you, and . . . Now that I quietly reflect on that, I kinda feel like . . .

White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona.


A Monarch Tale of Woe: this Superstar is damaged. Shoot or Don’t Shoot?

Monarch Butterfly on Tithonia photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

It was getting to be a problem. Here we were in Georgia, at the Butterflies & Blooms at the Briar Patchon my 3rd trip down to this butterfly destination. Good images of Monarch butterflies just weren’t happening. First the USPS delivery of processed slides were stolen by ditzy teenagers from the front of my Pittsburgh home, only to later be found strewn on various lawns along the boulevard that we live on (after days of rain). So my May 2015 images were lost. Then, later, it wasn’t that the Briar Patch doesn’t have Monarchs. They have lots of Monarchs. Problem was that the Monarchs refused to permit good approach. My approach was met with Off it goes!

I got the feeling that folks were looking forward to have a look at the photographic product of all of that time (Glorious time!) spent in the Briar Patch. Set a moniker for 2015 for butterfly enthusiasts east of the Mississippi, and it would be: Year of the Monarchs.

Then one day in August, this stunner came along. My approach? Tolerated. The light available? Just fine. My position vis a vis the butterfly? Good. Set time on the Mexican sunflower head? Good and not rushed.

Something was just not right though. What was it? Oh oh! This butterfly had sustained major bird-struck damage to the right hindwing!! It was a Superstar with a glaring rip in her gown or in his tux. Shoot or don’t shoot?

Virginia, Stanley, Sylbie, Dave and Phil . . .


Middle East Parnassian (Protected)

Allancastria Cerisyi Speciosa butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

Not a single Parnassian Butterfly east of the Mississippi River. I’d never seen one of these beautiful butterflies, until my March 2015 trip to Israel’s Upper Galilee region. They fly in limited habitat, within 100 yards of the Israeli-Lebanon border. They fly in March, and I jumped into my rental car, and there I went.

Back yesterday from weeks in central Georgia, and days in Florida’s Panhandle (Wow! to both, and more about that in the coming days and weeks), we can finally share the diverse images that I captured there.

This male could not be followed, flying at great speed, and making sharp turns, as though IDF trained. But it was very early, and he and the others stopped often to sip nectar from native flowers. Approach could be made, for he was fully focused on fueling-up.

Allancastria Cerisyi Speciosa. Rare, protected and gorgeous, with its yellow, black, red and blue hindwing spots.

I am learning that rare butterflies can be seen if you know where they can be found (Thank you Dubi Benyamini), you can be there when they fly, you can travel there, get good weather and respect the OMG! of their limited existence.

A butterfly protected by Israel. Just 300 feet ( meters? ) from the very dangerous border. We both enjoyed the morning, Parnassian and I.


Spotted Skipper Taking Nectar from a Bellflower Perennial Flower

Silver spotted skipper butterfly photographed at Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA

The lunch bell must have been ringing with this Silver Spotted Skipper Butterfly energetically taking nectar from this bellflower perennial.

One of dozens of species of skipper butterflies found east of the Mississippi. It is one of the most commonly seen butterflies. Most of us see it lots and lots of times.

I’ve been told that it’s plain-looking and looks like a moth (no disrespect to moths intended). Uh-uh. It’s fantastic variations of brown with a milk-white flash on its wings.

I’m a fan.