Orange Delight! AKA Winter Antidote IX

Wasp on Butterfly Weed, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

High today in Pittsburgh, predicted to be 16F. Shoveled that 1″ of snow that fell overnight. Truth be told, I need a Winter Antidote, pronto! Opened my 2014 images, and this one is spot on.

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Tuberosa) was in bloom that 3rd week in July at Doak field (Raccoon Creek State Park, Southwestern Pennsylvania). There were a limited number of these milkweeds, and they were the rich, deep orange that I love. In the morning, they are nectar pumps, and butterflies, bees, wasps, diurnal moths all pay visits to sip sweet nectar, their version of jet fuel.

On July 14th I stationed myself alternately at 2 or 3 of the plants, and waited. The time spent was good. I was not alone much.

Then, “Huh?” This wasp alighted on the blooms. A newbie for me, even after 18 years in the field. Then I saw it. That ½ orange/ ½ black abdomen. Orange delight! The perfect complement to the orange blooms. Beauty in the raw.

Without a field guide at Raccoon Creek, I arrived home to find that this was a Great Golden Digger Wasp. “I beg your pardon?” This type of wasp is found throughout much of the United States and Canada, but solitary and surely uncommon. The adults nectar on flowers. They capture food for their larvae by paralyzing crickets and katydids and then dropping them into their burrows in the ground.

July’s eye candy was painted in a natural orange tone that I love. I long to get back out there.


Winter Antidotes V

Hermon Iris Wildflower (Protected Species) photographed in Northern Golan, Israel
This rare, protected Hermon Iris startled me, on that trail near Israel’s border with Lebanon. Startled me? Yes, there they were, a handful of them, unexpected and starkly beautiful. A trail that sees few, though you may have seen a post on this site of cattle grazing here about.

It was nicely warm that day, and butterflies and wildflowers lined the trail, Nirvana! The kind of morning that we in the U.S. are just some weeks away from enjoying. A winter antidote, No?

What brought this to mind, now? This spot is a 5 minute hike from the border. At this moment that I write, Israeli IDF forces are massed nearby, reports anticipating Hezbollah terrorism in this very area. Very rare wildflowers, butterflies, cattle foraging and terrorists from Lebanon nearby, terrorists who were not born in Lebanon, who trained in Iran, and whose work is training to kill civilians.


Winter Antidotes IV

Parnassius mnemosyne butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel
How do I view a day like today? Mid-January and a ‘balmy’ 41F. With caution I think, because the extended forecast for us here includes snow showers, cold and lots of cloudy, cold days. In the middle of winter, we are. Still more winter to go, therefore . . . need additional winter antidotes.

Noted recently that this 2015 I am looking forward to travel, to meet butterflies I’ve never met before in Colorado, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Ontario and Israel.

Israel? Today’s news, encountered almost everywhere, features tiny, little Israel, beloved to Christians, Land of Milk and Honey. IAF rockets directed at terrorists on the Syrian side of the mountain, and it revealed that they struck terrorists and Iranians. An Iranian general was amongst the casualties. Huh, what’s an Iranian general doing on the other side of that mountainous border? Surrounded on all sides by governments, militia, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS that wish its children dead. How’s that for a downer of a thought?

OK, I was there 6 months ago, and if, if, you haven’t traveled to Israel, you have no idea how moving, beautiful, youthful, safe (Yep!) and Now! a place it is. This Parnassius Mnemosyne Syra butterfly was on the peak of Mt. Hermon, sipping nectar in the blazing heat of the mid-day sun. Rare, when I got my slides back and verified that this image was that species, I was elated! Want to see one, travel thousands of miles, drive to the northern tip of Israel, Hope that the military allows you to go up to the top, bring many liters of water (Or else!), watch for land mines! when you step off of the primitive trails, and then maybe, just maybe you’ll encounter this butterfly, with its almost transparent wings. She was flying low along the ground, fast, but stopped for these blooms. Made my approach, and shot away . . . 10 or 12 exposures later, sped away. Yay!!

Can, will I be back in April? Will they allow me to ascent to the mountain-top? If I can and they do, it will be Muy Hot. Just warms me up, thinking about it. Winter Antidote, that.