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.
That expansive meadow at the Jamestown Audubon Center‘s Reserve was jam-packed with blooms and fliers. This Orange Hawkweed flowerhead caught my eye. Lush in color, Hieracium Aurantiacum could have had a tiny sign posted on it, “Super healthy bloom ready for nectarers!”
Decided to pause there awhile, and see if it’s aromatic teasers brought in any action. Bingo! This sweet as sugar skipper zoomed in, and stayed. My instincts must have been good, sweet nectar ready at the pump, so to speak.
The eye candy that it was challenged me to capture a suitable image, and I shot away. A comely bloom with a sucre-sweet little skipper, on a fine morning in Jamestown, New York. ID? A Least Skipper is my vote. Good, very good.
Oh, if I could do as some of you do, block out the nonsense of this nutty political world, and focus on the gravitas of this eye-popping world that we share.
It’s late morning in an expansive meadow in Rector, Pennsylvania. The Laurel Highlands is a beautiful and sylvan area in southwestern PA. Fittingly, this Meadow Fritillary is methodically nectaring on wildflowers. They prefer damp meadows, but as we see here, they also visit dry meadows.
This adult Meadow Fritillary is nectaring on Lance-leaved Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia). They are approachable when they are nectaring. Boloria bellona’s caterpillars feed upon those little violet plants that we often overlook. Violets are the host plants for many of the fritillaries.
Please make a point of seeing our post of the dorsal (above) view of a Meadow fritillary. The 2 photos complement one another. Although described in field guides as widespread, we see very few of them each year.