Theirs and Mine (the Golan)

Aricia Agestis butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow on Qedesh trail, Israel

I was just scrolling down some Facebook group sites and my eyes were again and again disappointed. People were posting their images of different tiny Israeli butterflies. I was especially drawn to images of rare, Protected Aricia butterflies. Most of their posts were of males, with their delicious reddish-orange spots along the margins of their wings.

Now I have spent hours seeking those same Aricia butterflies, with some success. Some, for they fly at breakneck speeds, making me rush after them, as they alight on a wildflower for 2.31 seconds, and then again speed away, to a similar bloom 20 feet down trail. Exjhilirating/Exhasuting. Both.

Their shares on FB had orange spots that were limpid, weak or washed-out. I remembered my own favorites, and it seemed to me that mine were richly hued. I didn’t hesitate for a moment to go to our Media Library of images, to see if my recollection was correct.

Here’s a favorite of mine. Aricia Agestis agestis. See my smile? I followed those bad boys for several mornings in my time, and I can now safely smile, for I like what I captured here.

That 12 hours flight, the drive to my daughter’s home, and days later, the 2.3 hour drive to the Golan region of Israel, an SPNI field house at SPNI Hermon. It’d blow your mind, as we used to say. Butterflying in the HolyLand.


Gray Hairstreak Butterfly

Gray hairstreak butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

They prefer to rest on the leaves of certain small oak shrubs. It took me some years to condition my eyes to spot them. The critical cue is the geometry of their wing profile contrasted with their nongeometric surroundings.

Our subject here is nectaring on a native wildflower whose name is wingstem. Wingstem is a shrub that grows to a height of 6-7 feet and produces hundreds of bright yellow flowers that seemingly pump nectar. 2011 saw abundant wing stem. In 2010 wing stem was less evident.

Hairstreaks,like most gems, are very small, but very beautiful. There are many species about: Striped Hairstreaks, Banded Hairstreaks, White M Hairstreaks, Oak Hairstreaks, Acadian Hairstreaks the list goes on and on.

This is just to serve as a reminder that if you ever think you know everything there is to know well, there’s those Hairstreaks!

What 5 colors are on display on this Gray Hairstreak?


Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

The magic of Butterflyweed flowers! When their flowers open in July the morning sun brings a steady procession of butterflies. Swallowtails, Fritillaries, Orange sulphurs, Coral hairstreaks and Monarchs.

Here our heroine is hungrily nectaring and displaying her stunning blue splashes!

After some 2 hours or so of morning sunlight, butterflies do not fly to the Butterflyweed. The last visitors to these flowers are usually very worn and sport heavily damaged wings.

When was the last time that you saw Butterflyweed? Is is a native or an alien wildflower?

What may explain the complete drop-off of butterfly activity at Butterflyweed flowers at mid-morning?