During the months of June and July, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs wildlife staff will provide free guided tours of the only population of the rare regal fritillary butterfly in the eastern United States at Fort Indiantown Gap, near Annville, Lebanon County.
Reservations are required and attendance is limited. All attendees, including children, must register online at www.ftig.isportsman.net/ButterflyTours.aspx and obtain a free permit. To attend a tour, you must present a permit for that specific date and time slot.
Guided tours will be offered, rain or shine, on June 30, and July 1, 7, and 8. No rain dates will be provided.
“These tours allow the public to see this rare butterfly and its grassland habitat on military training ranges, as well as the many other natural wonders on the 17,000-acre military installation,” said John Fronko, director DMVA Bureau of Environmental Management. “Staff will also highlight a variety of animals and plants found at Fort Indiantown Gap and how the military presence on the installation is vital to the persistence of these species and their ecosystems.”
Attendees will be required to travel from the meeting location to the tour location in their personal vehicles. Tours will last approximately one hour plus driving time. Meeting location and parking information will be provided after obtaining a permit.
Visitors of all ages and abilities are welcome to attend. Tours will be on foot on gravel roads and mowed paths. Please bring drinking water and wear appropriate clothing and footwear for uneven terrain. Wandering off the path, into the fields, or away from your tour guide is prohibited. There will be little or no shade on the tour route.
Like many military installations, FTIG is home to a diverse population of plants and animals, many of which are rare and considered species of conservation concern. It is home to 49 species of mammals, 143 species of breeding birds, 37 species of reptiles and amphibians, 35 species of fish, more than 800 species of plants, and many notable species of invertebrates including 86 species of butterflies and more than 500 species of moths. These species persist at FTIG because it provides an assortment of high-quality habitats. This includes rare early successional ecosystems such as grasslands, thickets, shrub lands, and young forests which were created and maintained from disturbances caused by military training, fires, and conservation efforts. The installation is home to 1,000 acres of scrub oak and pitch pine barrens and approximately 2,200 acres of native grassland habitat – the largest in the state.