Part One. Spring Butterflies of Israel and the Golan Heights. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   

Mediterranean Tiger Blue




Visiting from 20-29 April 2019, this ten-day trip produced a rich assortment of the spring butterflies that exist in this diverse piece of territory, including Lebanese Festoon, False Apollo and Eastern Orange Tip in the Golan and Mediterranean Tiger Blue, Blue-spotted Arab and Desert Bath White further south.





With practically zero online information existing on Israeli butterflies, I armed myself with a copy of 'Butterflies of Israel' and then tried to cover a variety of habitats across the country, stopping where habitats looked good. In short, I visited four main regions/habitats:

  1. Deserts. Basically the Nizzana area close to the Egyptian border, the Eilat area and a couple of sites along the Dead Sea.

  2. Grasslands of central Israel and the West Bank. Three main localities visited - Mt Amasa near Beir Sheva, Wadi Qu'ad Ida in the West Bank and Mount Gilboa near Beit She'an.

  3. The North and the Golan Heights. Upland localities such as Gamla Nature Reserve, Mount Hermon and Mount Meron, plus the low altitude Hahula Nature Reserve.

  4. Mediterranean coast. Short visits near the Lebanese border in the north, Tel Aviv in the centre and Ashkelon in the far south.

In total, 41 species of butterfly were recorded. A trip in late May or June would certainly result in far more butterflies, though my primary target - Lebanese Festoon - should no longer flying then, hence the timing of this trip. Needless to say, visiting this region in the spring, birding is also excellent - though this was not a primary focus, I did encounter plenty of migrants such as Collared Flycatchers, etc, plus made an effort to see some the scarcer residents, Macqueen's Bustard, African Swamphen and Syrian Serin included.



20 April. Mount Amasa & Nizzana.

Mid-morning arrival in Tel Aviv, then a 90 minute drive south, inadvertently taking a short cut through a section of the West Bank not open to Israelis! And then I was there, the glorious rolling grasslands of Mount Amasa - albeit highly arid and withered grasslands.


Levantine Marbled White



What a treat awaited - despite quite a breeze, there were masses of butterflies on the wing. Quickly established the vast bulk were Levantine Marbled Whites and Painted Ladies, many hundreds of the first, possibly thousands of the second! One of the 'golden' skippers came third, many dozens flying, but a slight puzzle at this early stage as to which species - Small or Levantine?





Zigzagged the slopes, Short-toed Eagles overhead, Masked Shrikes and Eastern Orphean Warblers singing from scattered shrubby bushes, Black-eared Wheatears breeding in the ruins of an old settlement, one Lilith Little Owl flushed alongside.


Knapweed Fritillary



My eyes were more for butterflies however - and among the masses of Levantine Marbled Whites and Painted Ladies, slowly the tally of additional species climbed. Quite a few Eastern Bath Whites, a half dozen Knapweed Fritillaries, a Clouded Yellow every now and then, adding more identification headaches, an Eastern Marbled Skipper, one Aden Skipper and one Pygmy Skipper.





Finally decided the golden skippers were all or mostly Levantine Skippers, though I may have overlooked other species. With these, I had now recorded 13 species at this site, not a bad introduction to the trip.


Levantine Skipper

Eastern Marbled Skipper

Aden Skipper

 Pygmy Skipper


With the afternoon ticking by, and occasionally clouds scuttling by, I decided it was time to depart. Onward to Nizzana, southern Negev Desert, abutting the Egyptian border. Arrived too late for heaps of butterfly action, though still Painted Ladies streaming through, quite a few Eastern Bath Whites too.





What Nizzana is famous for is not butterflies, but as a stronghold for Macqueen's Bustard. Easiest to find when the makes display at dawn, I thought I would give it a try anyhow, taking the road out towards Ezuz. At the legendary km 7 marker, I scanned the desert, Dorcas Gazelles off to the left, a few Lesser Kestrels in a loose flock, but initially no Macqueen's Bustard to be seen. Prehistoric-looking grasshoppers present!




But then, magically emerging from a boulder-strewn landscape, one male Macqueen's Bustard strutting his stuff. Incredibly distant, but impressive all the same. As sun looked to set, relocated to tracks south of the road, the Egyptian border just beyond. More Macqueen's Bustards here! A pair this time, the male very intent of showing best display to a female seemingly more interested in ambling off!

And so set the sun, darkness closing in. Had planned to camp locally, but on the spur of the moment, decided to switch plans and drive through the night to Yotvata, top of the Arava Valley. Camped to a backdrop of howling Golden Jackals, wild calls of Stone Curlews.



21 April. Yotvata & Eilat.

Early morning in the Arava Valley, walking through the dunes abutting the Jordanian border at Yotvata, one Israeli military vehicle tailing us. A small flock of White Storks rising into the skies, a Steppe Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard not long after. Walked the circular fields, walked tamarisk edge, not a single butterfly seen.


Masked Shrike




On the passerine front, though clearly no big migration this day, did find numerous migrant Blackcaps, a Masked Shrike and three Cretzschmar's Bunting. Alongside, traditional residents also present, including Arabian Babblers, a couple of Palestine Sunbirds and several Tristram's Starlings.





In search of butterflies, opted to continue south, pausing first at the saltpans at km 20, then Amram's Pillars. Zero butterflies at either locality, a nice selection of birds at the first (Greater Flamingos, Night Herons, Squacco Herons, Temminck's Stints, other waders, etc, etc). I however was worrying a little about the complete lack of butterflies - I had hoped to find quite a few desert specialists in this region!


Blue-spotted Arab




Didn't need to worry too long however. Arriving at the Israeli Bird Ringing Centre (IBRC) in Eilat, I soon found a small patch of heaven in the desert - a bunch of flowering bushes alive with butterflies, alive with Blue-spotted Arabs in particular, many dozens of them present!






Alongside, also numerous of the tiny African Babul Blues, these latter butterflies highly active and difficult to photograph. In their midst, at least one or two Desert Babul Blues, two Dark Grass Blues and, pitifully brief, a stunning Arabian Sapphire.


African Babul Blue

Dark Grass Blue


Distracted myself for a short while to take a look at some birds - best 12 Red-necked Phalaropes - then headed into Eilat city. Not impressed, it was heaving with tourists celebrating Passover, North Beach jam-packed with folk camping out and the city in near gridlock. Thoughts of staying here for a couple of days were soon shelved and instead I decided to head north again, stopping at Holland Park as I departed Eilat. Holland Park was excellent, scoring up one of my main targets for the trip - the totally exquisite Mediterranean Tiger Blue. Buzzing around a particular species of large bush, at least 40 present, very welcome indeed. Also here, one Dark Grass Blue, many Blue-spotted Arabs and, my only one of the trip, one very nice Desert Bath White.


Desert Bath White


Below, images of Mediterranean Tiger Blues, including a composite of the uppersides of the wings of female and male, helping to separate from the similar Little Tiger Blue, which I didn't see.



Mediterranean Tiger Blue

 Mediterranean Tiger Blue


And with that, I decided to leave the Eilat area and drive back to Nizzana, not very logical route planning, but there we have it. This was the only day of the trip that I didn't see Painted Ladies, on all other days I saw hundreds or even thousands.



22 April. Nizzana & Dead Sea.

Dawn at Nizzana, failed on a brief look for more Macqueen's Bustards, but soon compensated when I settled down to watch the sewage pool on the edge of Nizzana settlement. Heaps of Little Grebes and Moorhens, several Ferruginous Ducks, but I had hopes for some rather more localised species …and within minutes I was watching the first of these, two gawky African Swamphens, dwarfing the Moorhens. As for the other hoped-for species, if all went according to cue, they should fly in at about 9.00 a.m. It didn't go according to cue, they arrived 20 minutes early! Bubbling calls filling the sky as first a pair of Black-bellied Sandgrouse circled round and landed on the bunk, then shortly after 12 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. A few moments of nervous drinking and then they relocated to settle in the desert just adjacent, cracking views. And for icing on the cake, in flew another flock complete with more bubbling calls, Crowned Sandgrouse this time. Swirled round a couple of times, then landed in the desert next to the Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, three more Black-bellied Sandgrouse flying over for good measure. Cracking trio!


Green-striped White


I had actually returned to the Nizzana area in the hope of Sahara Swallowtail, a species that occasionally irrupts into this part of the Negev. So as it warmed, I set off to search ... two-a-penny Painted Ladies, quite a few of the very attractive Green-striped Whites, a few Clouded Yellows. Precious little else however and certainly no sign of any Sahara Swallowtails.


Small White



Departed mid-morning, next stop the Dead Sea. Mass of Small Whites near Damona en route, then down the spectacular escarpment, the altimeter spiraling downward, past sea level, then down to minus 370 metres. To the backdrop of the blues of the Dead Sea, a landscape of exceptional aridity, contorted rock formations totally devoid of vegetation bisected by acacia-studded wadis, home to a fairly rich fauna.




Dark Grass Blue




A broad well-vegetated wadi we stopped to explore, Blackstarts greetings us, Fan-tailed Ravens circling round. And no real surprise, Painted Ladies by the bucketload. Fortunately, in return for quite some concerted effort, a few other very nice butterflies too - 12 Dark Grass Blues, one Desert Babul Blue, a few Blue-spotted Arabs, one Large Salmon Arab and, unexpected, a Caper White.




And with that, chambered down to the actual Dead Sea for the end of the day, a bit of normal touristy stuff for a change. Camped in a remote wadi for the night, Golden Jackals calling.



23 April. Dead Sea, Qu'ad Ida & Mount Gilboa.

Aside the Dead Sea, Fan-tailed Ravens over the tent at dawn, then a hike up Wadi en Salvadori. Failed to find Sinai Rosefinch or Striolated Bunting, but plenty of other birds - Sand Partridge, Palestine Sunbirds, Tristam's Starlings, etc, plus a stunning male Barred Warbler and a Masked Shrike. Added a Bonelli's Eagle nearby.


Dead Sea

Dead Sea


Next up, headed north, crossing the West Bank with the intention if reaching Beit She'an. Hadn't planned to stop, but passing through grasslands in the northern West Bank, the habitat looked excellent. Stopped at Wadi Qa'ud Ida and was impressed - not massive diversity, but some of the best butterfly numbers of the whole trip.


Common Blue




Many hundreds of Small Whites floating across the hillsides, smaller numbers of Large Whites, Bath Whites and Clouded Yellows. Also here, quite a few Levantine Skippers, my first Small Coppers and zelleri Common Blues of the trip and my only Brown Argus, a pair.






Departing the West Bank, next stop was Mount Gilboa, a limestone block just west of Beit She'an. Known to birders for Long-billed Pipits, I had high hopes that the rocky slopes would produce a good number of butterflies. I was not disappointed - close to the summit, grass was long and not so easy to explore, though Swallowtails sailed the slopes, numerous Small Whites drifted about and, highlight of the slope, a single Desert Fritillary appeared on a patch of bare rock. Several Fan-fingered Gecko in this area too.


Fan-footed Gecko


Lower down, at a known locality for the Long-billed Pipits at km 4.5, steep rocky slopes with short turf looked far more promising ...and so they proved. Among more common species, at least 40 Levantine Marbled Whites populating the slope, plus a healthy number of Levantine Skippers.


African Ringlet





Better still however, a number if less common species, including two Pygmy Skippers, four Eastern Marbled Skippers and, best of the lot, five African Ringlets. A very nice couple hours up here, Mountain Gazelles also seen.





Ended the day at one of the fish pool systems just north of Beit She'an, not many birds present and few butterflies other than numerous Painted Ladies.


24 April. Beit She'an & Gamla Nature Reserve.

Birding early morning at the Kfar Ruppin and Tirat Zvad fishpool systems, moderately quiet though a very nice collection of heron species (Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Great White Egret, Little Egret and Cattle Egret), plus Pygmy Cormorants, White Pelicans, etc.

Thereafter I travelled up to Gamla Nature Reserve in the Golan Heights for a seven-hour hike in this most spectacular location. Walked the lip of the dramatic escarpment, to the one side the Sea of Galilee far below, to the other masses of wild flowers in the extensive grasslands, truly one of the most attractice localities in the Middle East.




Bee-eaters overhead, Egyptian Vultures patrolling the cliff edge, occasional Griffon Vultures and Short-toed Eagles and, point of my visit, plenty of butterflies.


Green-striped White




Was initially pretty quiet, but by 11.00 am, quite a lot of of butterflies flying - Painted Ladies, Small Whites and Levantine Skippers in the main, but plenty of Green-striped Whites too, plus a few Swallowtails and singles of Levantine Marbled White and Red Admiral, the latter one of only two seen on this trip.





Under a now scorching sun, even better were a couple of the smaller butterfly species - a grand total of ten Lesser Fiery Coppers and two Mediterranean Tiger Blues.


Lesser Fiery Copper


Finished our hike late in the afternoon, a bunch of Rock Hyraxes to see is off. Then headed north again, initially planning to camp near the Jordan River. Dozens of other campers in that area however, so continued to the lower slopes of Mount Hermon, next day would climb.



25 April. Mount Hermon.

The borderlands of Syria, Lebanon and Israeli-occupied Golan, Mount Hermon sits in one of the most politically sensitive spots in the Middle East. At the same time, lush green and a snow-capped peak, Mount Hermon is not only one of the most scenic localities in the region, but also offers an abundance of butterflies that occur here and nowhere else in the lands of Israel.


Mount Hermon


Though at its best in June, a time when many more species of butterflies are on the wing, I had timed my visit to this part of the world with one species on mind - Lebanese Festoon, a species that only flies early in the season. So it was, early morning we arrived on the mountain. Height of the Passover holiday, plenty of hikers preparing for the slopes, plenty of Israeli military personnel too - no forgetting we were only a kilometre from the Syrian border and just twice that from Lebanon!

Warm and sunny, already Painted Ladies flying from 8.00 am. Parking in the lower car park, an excellent-looking meadow stretched out below, rocky slopes rising above, lightly studded with shrubs and trees - perfect Lebanese Festoon habitat. Hiked down the valley, Eastern Orphean Warblers in song, Masked and Woodchat Shrikes decorating shrubs, Short-toed Eagles in the skies.


Green-underside Blue




Not many butterflies at this early hour, but wandering into a slightly lower valley, the magical 10 a.m. approached, a time that fairly consistently coincides with butterflies taking to the wing. And right on cue, one Green-underside Blue settled on the track, talking salts.






Moments later, a fast-flying whitish butterfly came zooming across the slope, vanishing into an area of trees. Appeared to have mottled black speckling, surely a festoon I thought. When it reappeared however, I realized that I was wrong - this was no festoon, but a False Apollo! Having seen one at Gamla in February, I had assumed these would have long since stopped flying, but I guess they are later here with the higher altitude. Either way, very neat.



False Apollo


Another treat ten minutes later - fluttering around a lightly-wooded meadow aside a stream, a number of Eastern Orange Tips, another butterfly I very much wanted to see.


Eastern Orange Tip





Barely two weeks earlier, I had considered a trip to Etna in Sicily to see these, but now I had a whole bunch of them on the wing, a few usual Orange Tips flying too for good measure.







As for Lebanese Festoon, no sign. Decided to return to the meadow below the car park and explore the east-facing slope, a perfect cocktail of open short turf grass, scattered rocks and occasional shrubs and trees. Painted Ladies two-a-penny, plus Clouded Yellows, but in not much time at all I discovered another whitish butterfly sailing around the slopes, a highly active individual that was not showing signs of landing. When it eventually did land, no mistake this time, a fine Lebanese Festoon was before me, albeit one that was very hesitant to land for more than a few seconds.


Lebanese Festoon

Lebanese Festoon


Over the next hour, I found a grand total of about 12 Lebanese Festoons on this slope, clearly a loose colony. Magic, success with the trip's main target!


Helicopter Gunship




Climbing a little higher, got buzzed by two helicopter gunships, circling us at 30-40 metres before both roaring back down the valley. Shortly after, got brief views of a presumed Lebanese Clouded Yellow, a larger butterfly with much richer oranges marking the uppers.






Climbing ever higher, with trees yet to come into leaf, butterfly numbers began to decline. At the top car park, snow just beyond, predictably few butterflies at all, bar still Painted Ladies migrating through. To finish the day, returned to the valley with False Apollos, finding four in total, then descended a little further. With some luck, also found two Syrian Serins and a Sombre Tit, plus the only Large Wall Browns of the trip.



26 April. Hahula & Mount Meron.


Hahula is a spectacular location in the winter - just two months earlier I had marvelled at the spectacle of 50,000 Cranes amassed, plus Great Spotted Eagles et al.


Globe Thistle




In spring, the Cranes are gone, the Great Spotted Eagles departed. In their place, a smattering of migrants and resident birds. Masses of White-winged Black Terns hawking the lake, 12 Black-winged Pratincoles, an impressive 600 White Storks rising on morning thermals before drifting north, 50 or so White Pelicans among them. Also a couple of Lesser Spotted Eagles migrating, one Booted Eagle, 40 Black Kites, a few Marsh Harriers and two Black-shouldered Kites. With Marbled Ducks also seen, plus Collared Flycatcher, it was pretty good birding. Butterflies were less impressive, Small Whites and a single Clouded Yellow being the only butterflies seen.

Likewise, the hills to the immediate west proved devoid of butterflies, so I continued westward along the Lebanese border, stopping every now and then. Only species of note, at a locality looking down into Lebanon were singles of Lesser Fiery Copper and Wall Brown, the latter the only one of the trip.






A couple of hours further, I reached the forested slopes of the Mount Meron area. This area also underperformed in relation to what I had expected - I think in summer at least, this could be a spectacular butterfly locality. As it was, not too bad, but also not enough to persuade me to stay the additional day that I had originally planned. In total, only eight species here, but this did include a Swallowtail, a couple of Cleopatra and, the only ones of the trip, three Orbed Red-underwing Skippers.


Orbed Red-underwing Skipper

Orbed Red-underwing Skipper


Departing, stopped at a McDonald's somewhere along the road to use the wifi and book some flight tickets home ...and then discovered our passports had gone AWOL. Darn it, a really bad inconvenience - thinking it could really only have happened at two localities, either Hula or more likely Mount Hermon, I decided to backtrack in the small chance of refinding. Naturally I did not find, but one notable positive - returning to Hula at night resulted in a fine Jungle Cat just near the entrance station!



27 April. Rosh HaNikra.

Compounding the lost passports, a moderately naff day with overcast skies from dawn. Having made online investigations regarding emergency passports, I headed up Mount Hermon more in hope than expectation, and after an hour or so descended again with the only butterflies seen being the occasional Painted Lady flushed. Did see however a smart Eastern Black Redstart, a couple of Sombre Tits and a Short-toed Eagle.

Seeing little chance of blue skies above the Golan any time soon, I thereafter opted to drive across to the Mediterranean and the hills abutting the Lebanese border above Rosh HaNikra. Mixed pine and heath, these were basking in warm sunshine - butterflies back on the menu.


Turkish Meadow Brown



And once again, an impressive number of Painted Ladies, hundreds upon hundreds nectaring on the abundant flowers. Among them, several rather smart Turkish Meadow Browns, the only ones I would see on this trip, plus a reasonable assortment of other species, Eastern Bath White, Cleopatra and Clouded Yellow included.





Did have plans to spend a full day in this northern Mediterranean region, but didn't see much likelihood of it proving highly productive, so after a short beach stop, still marked by ever-present Painted Ladies migrating, we then departed and travelled south. Paused a while at McDonald's to use the wifi again to order new passports, then pushed on past Tel Aviv and back to the Be’er Sheva area.



28 April. Mount Amasa & Ashkelon.

Back to Amasa, one of the best butterfly areas I had encountered on this trip. Second time round was not going to disappoint either - in gloriously warm sunshine and no wind at all, butterfly numbers were even better than on the first visit.


Levantine Marbled White



Again hillsides full of Levantine Marbled Whites, Painted Ladies and generous doses of Levantine Skippers, but also at least a few Small Skippers. Additionally, added more Knapweed Fritillaries, at least 15 this time. Alongside, a couple of Swallowtails, a Dark Grass Blue and an Aden Skipper. Also noted the only Mallow Skipper of the trip, plus an Oriental Marbled Skipper.





Pleasant birding also in this region, a few Rock Sparrows seen, plus resident Red-backed and Masked Shrikes also present, an Isabelline Wheatear and a Long-legged Buzzard. Presumably a migrant, one Bonelli's Warbler looked mighty out of place, many Blackcaps also filling the occasional bushes.


Eastern Bath White




In the afternoon, a half-hearted attempt at finding a rich butterfly area on the Mediterranean coast failed rather significantly - chose an area of extensive sand dunes adjacent to Ashkelon, but the only butterflies present were numerous Painted Ladies, common Eastern Bath Whites, a few Clouded Yellows and an occasional Small White.





Ended the day camping near the Mediterranean, Scops Owl and Stone Curlew highly vocal around the tent. A mere six days later, as conflict flared between Israel and Gaza, nearly 700 rockets were launched by militants into Ashkelon and its surrounds. That would have disturbed my butterfly spotting!



29 April. Yarkon Park.

Final day and the first couple of hours spent organising and collecting emergency passports in the British Embassy in Tel Aviv. This sorted, then went to Yarkon Park for a leisurely hour or two before heading for the airport.


Long-tailed Blue



Attracted by a mass of flowers across the park, surprisingly rich in butterflies - clouds of Painted Ladies again, but also a nice mix of other species. Small Whites and Eastern Bath Whites most abundant, but rather nicer a single Swallowtail, a second Red Admiral of the trip and, best of the lot, three very smart Long-tailed Blues proving highly active in the 32 C sun. 45th species of the trip, not an easy one to photograph as they zipped about, rarely settling.




Not bad for birds either. Didn't look for Vinous-breasted Starlings as last time, but easy pickings included Hoopoes, Pied Kingfishers, White-breasted Kingfishers and Night Herons, plus plenty of established exotica as usual, Ring-necked Parakeets, Monk Parakeets and Common Mynas everywhere, along with Egyptian Geese.

And then it was time for the airport - mercifully no real questions about the lack of a usual passport, nor for having lost the Israeli entry card. A few short queues later, boarded a flight to Lithuania.



Two months later I would  return to the Golan Heights for a short trip to enjoy the abundance of mid-summer species that inhabit these highland regions, including Ascentria's Fritillary, various haristreaks and both Tawny and Lebanese Silverline CLICK HERE TO VIEW.







Old World Swallowtail - a scatter of individuals across central and northern Israel: three Mount Gilboa, three Gamla, one Mount Meron, two Mount Amasa and one Yarkon Park.

Lebanese Festoon - a loose colony of about 12 on a single open slope at Mount Hermon.

False Apollo - three on a lightly-wooded slope at Mount Hermon. Also saw one at Gamla Nature Reserve on my previous visit in April.

Large White - small numbers across central and northern Israel: two at the Dead Sea, 10 Qu’ad Ida, 15+ Mount Gilboa, one Gamla, one Mount Meron and 10 Yarkon Park.

Small White - common to abundant at many sites from the middle of Israel northward, including around the Dead Sea, at Qu'ad Ida and Mount Gilboa, throughout the Golan Heights and at Hula, Mount Meron and Rosh HaNikra. Also common in Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv. Not seen in the south, including Mount Amasa, Nizzana and the Eilat area, while only five in the Ashkelon area.

Eastern Bath White - a good scatter of records: best counts at Ashkelon (40+), along with Mount Amasa, Rosh HaNikra and Yarkon Park (25+ at each). Elsewhere, four at Nizzana, seven near the Dead Sea, 10 at Qu'ad Ida, five at Mount Gilboa, one Mount Hermon and four at Mount Meron.


Eastern Bath White
Green-striped White

Desert Bath White - one in Holland Park, Eilat.

Eastern Dappled White - three at Mount Hermon.

Green-striped White - three localities: 25 in the Nizzana area, 30+ at Gamla and one at Mount Meron.

Caper White - one near the Dead Sea.

Blue-spotted Arab - abundant in the Eilat area (IBRC and Holland Park), plus four near the Dead Sea.

Salmon Arab - one in dry wadi near the Dead Sea.

Blue-spotted Arab

Large Salmon Arab

Orange Tip - five at Mount Hermon, flying with Eastern Orange Tips.

Eastern Orange Tip - 15+ at Mount Hermon, preferring lightly-wooded meadow aside a stream.

Clouded Yellow - quite common with counts of 10-20 at Mount Amasa, Mount Gilboa, Mount Hermon, Rosh HaNikra, Ashkelon and Yarkon Park. Elsewhere, four at Nizzana, six at Qu’ad Ida, one at Hula and six each at Gamla and Mount Meron.

Lebanese Clouded Yellow - one at Mount Hermon, probably a little early in the season.

Cleopatra - two at Mount Meron and two at Rosh HaNikra. Note, these are of the xxxx race and the males lack the vivid orange flash of the European races, thereby leaving them fairly similar to Brimstones.

Painted Lady - a major irruption into Israel, these were exceptionally abundant across the entire country, except the lower Arava Valley between Yotvata and Eilat. Regardless of habitat, including the desert at Nizzana and the Dead Sea, the upper slopes of Mount Hermon and urban park in Tel Aviv, hundreds or thousands seen at each locality, many actively flying north. Local biologists report as many as a 800,000,000 - 1,000,000,000 Painted Ladies are involved in this exceptional movement through Israel!


Painted Lady
Painted Lady


Red Admiral - two individuals only: one at Gamla and one in Yarkon Park.

Knapweed Fritillary - only seen at Mount Amasa, where four on first visit and 15 on second.

Desert Fritillary - one at Mount Gilboa.

Levantine Marbled White - abundant at Mount Amasa, many hundreds present. In addition, 40+ at Mount Gilboa and one at Gamla.

African Ringlet - five at Mount Gilboa.

Large Wall Brown - four at Mount Hermon.

Wall Brown - one on the Lebanese border, north of Mount Meron.

Turkish Meadow Brown - about 10 at the dry hills along the Lebanese border at Rosh HaNikra.

Lesser Fiery Copper - 10+ at Gamla, one at Mount Meron.


Lesser Fiery Copper
Small Copper

Small Copper - three individuals: one at Qu’ad Ida, one at Gamla and one at Mount Amasa.

Long-tailed Blue - three in Yarkon Park.

Arabian Sapphire - one briefly at flowers at the entrance to the IBRC, Eilat.

African Babul Blue - at least 30 attracted to flowers at the entrance to the IBRC, Eilat.

Desert Babul Blue - at least two attending the flowers at the IBRC, Eilat. Also one near the Dead Sea.

Dark Grass Blue - two at the IBRC, one in Holland Park, 12 near the Dead Sea, one Mount Amasa.

Mediterranean Tiger Blue - at least 40 in Holland Park, Eilat. Also, one Qu'ad Ida and two at Gamla.

Green-underside Blue - one at Mount Hermon.

Brown Argus - two at Qu'ad Ida.

Common Blue (zelleri) - six at Qu'ad Ida, one at Mount Gilboa, five at Gamla and one at Mount Amasa (this last locality seemingly out of range).

Mallow Skipper - one at Mount Amasa.


Oriental Marbled Skipper
Eastern Marbled Skipper

Oriental Marbled Skipper - one at Mount Amasa.

Eastern Marbled Skipper - one at Mount Amassa, four at Mount Gilboa.

Aden Skipper - singles at Mount Amasa on both visits.

Orbed Red-underwing Skipper - three at Mount Meron.

Pygmy Skipper - one at Mount Amasa, two at Mount Gilboa.

Levantine Skipper - abundant at Mount Amasa and Gamla, many dozens present. Also common at Qu'ad Ida and Mount Gilboa.

Small Skipper - small number at Mount Amasa, not clear exact number due to confusion with Levantine Skippers.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 30 June 2019 )
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