Waiting For Rare Ones

Aricia Agestis Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

The Coppers were flying, they in good numbers. None were of the 2 rare, protected Copper butterflies known to populate the peak and slopes of Mt. Hermon. That was OK, for the coppers I was seeing in the field surrounding Neve Ativ, though of the common copper species, were, well, fresh. Very fresh. When I caught sight of mating copper pairs, I went into overdrive. Happy, motivated, loaded with Fuji slide film, and yes, Thankful that I was there on the mountain, in the northernmost tip of Israel, April  2017.

Thankful too that the murderous Syrian regulars, Syrian secret cadre, Iranian regular and other murderers, ISIL, Hezbollah, Syrian ‘Rebels’ (whomever there are/were), Russian uniformed and special forces, North Koreans, Hamas, US special forces, Al Qaeda remnants, Pakistanis and more were down on the northern face of Mt. Hermon, planning,  executing and killing one another (though I wish safe missions for our American Special Forces/Opps heroes).  Just that they were not in Israel, threatening the Israeli Jews and Israeli Druze who live in this OMG! lush, water rich Golan region.

My eyes rested their ‘Rare Copper’ search engines . . . but I did not relent another search mode, for I was on the lookout for the rare, equally protected gossamer-winged Aricia Agestis. Mostly the tiny butterflies were there in those fields, and my eyes were scanning the little for minute butterflies with chains of little orange flashes rimming dorsal (upper) forewings and hindwings.

Some 2 hours into that morning, jackpot! There was Aricia, leisurely nectaring on very small, low to the ground blooms. A very nice one, and sweetie. . . approachable. I shot away, and share here the best of what I got. Hadn’t seen Aricia for 2 years, even though I was in Israel’s north in 2016, looking for this sweetiepie. Good. Very good.

There we were there then, Jeff and Aricia, within sight of The Sea of Galilee to the south, were my Chrisitian friends all tell me they plan to visit “someday,” for Aricia surely flew down to there then, surely wasn’t so rare then, and no doubt was also admired then. Imagine that, if you will?


Clouded Skipper Butterfly

Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Savannah, GA Butterfly Garden

In the Savannah Garden Club’s beautiful acreage, it was a bed of zinnias  that attracted this Clouded Sulphur Butterfly (Lerema accius). As with many of the little skipper (Hesperiinae) relatives, it took some time for me to review our field guides and comfortably determine which skipper it is. Until we learn otherwise, we’re going to call this butterfly a Clouded Skipper.

We don’t see them in Western Pennsylvania. This southeastern U.S. species does work  its way up the Atlantic coastline, reportedly as far north as Connecticut. The butterfly is not believed to be winter hardy, and for most, it’s a one-way flight north. Rich Cech and Guy Tudor suggest that some may in fact winter over, but these may be of very limited number.

They are  Grass Skippers, so their caterpillars build leaf shelters and then consume the exposed leaf within. Pretty neat stuff.

All of this reminds me of how little we still know about the butterflies in the U.S.. Let’s ask our international followers, “How much is known about your country’s gossamer wing residents?”