Metullah Mystery

Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Iron Falls, Metullah, Israel

During those many trips to Israel, the HolyLand, fritillary butterflies usually eluded me. I hadn’t seen too many of them. There were Frits that were commonly seen there, and there were Fritillary butterflies that were uncommon, rare and super hard to even find, much less photograph.

Back in 2008, I was fortunate to have found and photographed a Frit that is uncommon, and found only on the peak of Mt. Hermon. That cable car up to the 7,000 foot tall peak of Mt. Hermon was difficult for me, especially since my guide, Etan, razzed me for keeping my eyes closed much of the ascent and descent. Heck, getting in the moving skip lift seat was trouble enough!

2017, April, and back in Israel (2 grandsons!!), I wanted find find other uncommon Fritillary butterflies. Up to the Galilee-Golan I drove, with a border town, Metullah, my destination. Border town with Lebanon, a sad country that has been overtaken by some one hundred thousand Hezbollah terrorists. It was extraordinary to stand in a parking lot at the border, and look into Lebanon, where you and yours should not enter.

I didn’t find Fritillaries, and decided to roam a bit. I found a city park, Iron Park they called it. I entered, parked my rental car, and spent several hot hours working their trails. Almost no butterflies to be seen, and those I saw were jet-propelled.

Discouraged some, I hiked back to the entrance to the park, sat on a picnic bench, and proceeded to open and enjoy a Coco Loco bar. Incoming! A butterfly flew in at great speed, and landed on the ground, just 8 feet from me. A Fritillary!! Forgot the Coco Loco, grabbed my Canon with its Macro-ISM equipped lens, and s-l-o-w-l-y made my approach. Still good. I shot. Moved closer and shot and shot again.

Adrenaline. I had given up, had not expected that day to yield anything more, just a day of some familiar butterflies, and then, this promising one rocketed in, near my snack bench. Mama-Mia!

After she fled, I returned to the bench and reflected on what I do, why I do it, and how it can provide such a Rush to a guy who’s seen soo much in his life.

Yes, this, good image, is a bit of a tease, but I want to think that she is Melitaea Arduinna Evanescens. A rare, uncommon Protected species, found only in 2 areas of Israel, and only in April and May!!

A Metullah mystery . . .

Jeff

Middle Eastern Parnassian (Israel)

Allancastria Cerisyi butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

How many species of Parnassian butterflies are there in Israel? There are four of them. This is Allancastria cerisyi speciosa. It flies for a brief time in June, along the northwestern coast of Israel, with the Mediterranean Sea just miles away. It is a rare Protected species, and I played a hunch that I might find them in Hanita, a moshav in that seaside strip. My timing was perfect and here’s one of these beauties. He had just left his night-time perch, and we met as he bathed in the strong rays of the Israel morning sun.

So Israel sports four Parnassians. How many Parnassians are native to the U.S.A.? Remember the U.S.A. is what? 500 times bigger than Israel? Answer? Three Parnassians fly in the U.S.A. and of the three, only one flies only in Alaska. Then, two Parnassians fly in continental U.S.A..

I have never seen an American Parnassian butterfly. What say you?

Jeff