Fort Indiantown Gap offers chance to catch a glimpse of rare butterfly

Butterfly enthusiasts will have the chance to catch a glimpse of the rare regal fritillary butterfly in tours offered by Fort Indiantown Gap in June and July.

The free guided tours will be held on June 30, July 1, July 7, and July 8. The tours will depart at 10 a.m., but those wishing to participate must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure to fill out paperwork, attend a mandatory safety/orientation briefing and receive driving instructions.

The tours will last approximately three hours, but attendees can leave earlier if necessary. Drivers should be prepared to provide their vehicle make, model, year, color, license plate state/number and insurance information.

Participants will meet at the Fort Indiantown Gap USO Liberty Center (previously named the Recreation Center), Building 13-190, located at the intersection of Asher Miner Road, Clement Avenue and Route 443. Upon arrival to the installation, “wildlife event” signs will help to direct attendees to the parking area adjacent to the USO Center in the picnic grove where parking attendants will provide additional instructions.

The tours, which have been offered for more than 10 years, allow the public to see this rare butterfly and its associated rare grassland habitat on military training ranges, as well as many other natural wonders on the 17,000-acre military post, which serves as the Pennsylvania National Guard’s headquarters.

Visitors of all ages and abilities are encouraged to bring cameras and binoculars and should wear appropriate clothing and footwear for a nature walk on gravel trails and/or sometimes uneven, mowed paths. They should also consider bringing insect repellent, sun screen and other personal comfort items. Drinking water will be provided. No reservations are required and no rain dates will be scheduled.

The regal fritillary butterfly is just one of the many rare species found at the Gap and is the official symbol for the PA Natural Heritage Program. There are a wide variety of habitats for 49 species of mammals, 143 species of breeding birds, 37 species of reptiles and amphibians, 35 species of fish, 800+ species of plants, and many notable species of invertebrates including 86 species of butterflies and 500+ species of moths.

For more information about the tours or the regal fritillary butterfly, visit www.ftig.png.pa.gov and click on “Butterfly Tours” under the “Trending” section. General inquiries about the tours can be directed to RA-DMVA-Wildlife@pa.gov or 717-861-2449.