Harrisburg (PA) – Guided tours will give visitors a chance to see the only population of Regal Fritillary butterflies in Pennsylvania beginning at 10 a.m. on July 2, 3, 4, 9, and 10 at Fort Indiantown Gap in Annville, Lebanon County.
The free tours, which have been offered for more than 10 years, allow the public to see this rare butterfly colony, as well as many other natural spectacles on the 17,000-acre military post, which serves as the Pennsylvania National Guard’s headquarters.
“The award-winning conservation program at Fort Indiantown Gap is among the best in the nation and the Regal Fritillary butterfly colony has thrived as a result of our intense natural resources management program,” said Lt. Col. Samuel Hayes, commander of the Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Site. “We have been able to achieve that delicate balance of preparing troops for combat while maintaining high standards of conservation stewardship. These tours also allow participants to observe other flora and fauna that make up our very diverse and unique ecosystems on the installation.”
Car pool tours will leave each day from the Fort Indiantown Gap Recreation Center in Building 13-190, located at the intersection of Asher Miner Road, Clement Avenue and Route 443 (GPS coordinates in decimal degrees: North 40.431, West 76.591). All tours will last approximately two and half hours, but attendees can leave earlier if needed.
Participants are encouraged to wear appropriate clothing and footwear for a nature walk on well-maintained or mowed trails. No reservations are required and no rain dates will be scheduled.
The tours also will include information related to current efforts to restore native grassland habitat across Pennsylvania with the ultimate goal of returning the Regal Fritillary to landholdings having a historic occurrence.
In addition to the Regal Fritillary, which is considered a federal species of concern, Fort Indiantown Gap is home to 99 species of conservation concern as defined in the PA State Wildlife Action Plan. It also provides a wide variety of habitats for 36 species of mammals, 122 breeding species of birds, 34 species of reptiles and amphibians, 25 species of fish, 792 species of plants, and many notable species of invertebrates including 85 species of butterflies and 237 species of moths. The installation also features 1,000 acres of scrub oak and pitch pine scrubland and 3,000 acres of native grassland habitat – the largest in the state.
Fort Indiantown Gap is the only live-fire, maneuver military training facility in Pennsylvania. It balances one of the region’s most ecologically diverse areas with a military mission that annually supports 19,000 Pennsylvania National Guard personnel and more than 130,000 other states’ Guard, military, law enforcement, and civilian personnel each year.
For more information, call the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Wildlife Office at 717-861-2449.Ft