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.

Jeff

On Pigeon Mountain

Pink Wildflowers photographed by Jeff Zablow at Pigeon Mountain, GA

Last year’s trip to the north Georgia mountains led us to David, a native of that beautiful region. David led us to Pigeon mountain, and its pair of pristine meadows.

The #1 goal was to find and shoot Diana Fritillary butterflies. All was seemingly perfect: A mountain meadow, full of nectaring blooms, sunny, windless weather, and all the hikers that we saw stayed below those meadows, leaving us to ourselves and our search.

Dianas? Nope. I’ve still not seen my first. Giants? Huge Giant Swallowtails, usually seen in groups of 3 or 4. Memories? Wonderful ones, on a mountain in north Georgia.

Still to be done? Need to get an ID on these nice wildflowers, growing in those Pigeon mountain meadows, along the perimeter tree line.

Ellen? Virginia? Rose? Barbara Ann? Angela? Jeff?

Jeff

Fiery Skipper Butterfly Feeds on Bushy Aster Nectar

Skipper Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Our Fiery Skipper is feeding on a morning meal of Bushy Aster (Aster dumosis) nectar. Good, because no approach would be successful if he were not 100% focused upon this sweet cocktail.

Here we go again. Identifying Grass skippers is not easy to do. His show of a toothed brown inner edge forewing margin is the significant indicator of a Fiery skipper identification.

Hylephila phyleus are numerous in fields and along open trails. As noted, they seek nectaring flowers and that increases the likelihood that we will see them from May through August.

This 1st week in June is such a wonderful time to be out seeking butterflies. So many species are present it tantalizes! Knowing that a new species might make its first appearance of the year that very day is also very energizing.

Raccoon Creek State Park was a sylvan oasis that June 7th morning. Saw one other person in those 3.5 hours. Saw dozens of winged beauties. Good.

We’ll be presenting our wingedbeauty images at Raccoon Creek State Park’s Wildflower Reserve facility on August 12th. Our 1 hour presentation/talk will be followed by a 1 hour butterfly walk in their pristine meadows. Pack a lunch, take a swim in their lovely lake and then feast again on our fare of exquisite winged beauties. 1 P.M. to 3 P.M. Before or after, visit Janoski’s Farmstand for their own fresh produce. About 2 miles down the road (Rte. 30) from the Wildflower Reserve parking lot. Yummy variety of picked that morning greens, melons and corn.

Jeffrey