The carnage just miles away in Syria prevented me from going to the peak of Mt. Hermon. Wanting to find and photograph the rare butterflies of the mountain, I settled on the meadows surrounding Neve Ativ. This tiny town is on the slope of Mt. Hermon. Neve Ativ looks like what I think a little Swiss village would look like.
Blues and coppers were flying, low as they do, in those flower covered meadows. An occasional fritillary butterfly showed, but they never landed for more than 2.1 seconds. Mid-way through that morning (photographing butterflies in Israel, even as we are here in April ’17, is near humanly impossible in the afternoon heat as it is a very arid country).
When I spotted this mated pair of Lycaena thersamon omphale, if you were there with me, you’d surely tell me that I had a face lit up, happy-look as a puppy with . . .
I chose to share this now, for it reminded me of how readily available beauty, peace and G-d’s work is for those tens of millions of you who work day in and day out. Me, I started working after school at age 13. When I retired I had worked for decades and decades. I am gifted in that I do still smell the roses, and hike to find eye fulls like this = sheer, unadulterated Beauty. Earnest, innocent and 0% politicized.
“Almost always a brighter orange-brown than Variegated Fritillary” writes Jeffrey Glassberg about Mexican Frits in his A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Princeton University Press, 2017). This was one of a pair of mated Mexican Fritillaries. The other one remains hidden under those cool wings. We were in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, near the border wall and Mexico
When I saw them, just some inches above the ground, my friend shared that they were Mexican Fritillaries! That got my attention, for they so look like Variegated fritillaries. Glassberg’s field guide highlighted the difference between the species. Mexican Frits lack much detail in the center of their dorsal hindwings, and they are so much “brighter” than Variegated.
I spent several unforgettable days in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, each day making the acquaintance of many Lifers for me. There were times too, when others in the NBC shared that folks just a little earlier had seen Dingywings and other butterflies that I’ve not ever seen before. No regret there, for I was a Happy Boy! in the LRGValley. I came to see and I saw!
The 128 other guests of Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation were spread out over the vast meadow, seeking Regal Fritillary butterflies. I was split off from the rest, with another guest, and a Post naturalist. This was a Wow! day for me, June 10, 2015. The forecast a week before was for rain. The weather that day? Sun!
Yes we saw Speyeria idalia. Most were males, and many of them were older, and worn. I wanted to see Regals, but I also wanted to photograph young, handsome, and fresh individual butterflies. Most were worn to very worn, and some had been struck by birds.
What! Did you see that? A mated pair flew from almost underfoot, into nearby meadow growth. I followed. A mated pair: Holy Cow! Would they tolerate my macro- approach, would they stay put? They did. I photographed shot after shot and another participant took a few too. We did not have an opportunity to talk, as focused as we were. (pun intended)
Here are female and male, and they are fully engaged. I tried to crop images that convey the reflection of the sun off of those bold white spots.
How exciting! I don’t know how many of you have such an image. Rare, challenged fritillary butterflies, striving to produce next year’s Regals. I love it!