A few weeks ago, a team from the Center for Hyper-Arid Socio-Ecology (CHASE) noticed the sudden appearance of the migrating butterfly species Vanessa cardui while working in Wadi Shita, just north of Kibbutz Ketura, and contacted the Israeli Lepidopterists Society to invite their chairman, Dubi Benyamini, to the Arava to see this phenomenon. During his visit in early February, 10 different species of butterflies were found.
The beautiful Vanessa cardui butterfly migrates all over the world, following warm seasons and growing plants. Its route and timing in Israel is very unclear and changes from year to year. Their larvae can grow on several plant hosts, including Mallow (scientific: Malva, Arabic: Hubeiza, Hebrew: Halmit). There are thousands of butterflies in Wadi Shita, probably due to the early rains in the area and sudden warm weather this year. This phenomenon was recorded and passed on to experts in the field. What is remarkable about the presence of these butterflies is that they were only found in this particular wadi. No similar recordings have been reported in the surrounding area.
The CHASE team has now established 4 butterfly tracks that will be monitored regularly. Dr. Guy Peer from the Israeli Lepidopterists Society will be in charge of the monitoring scheme.
Submitted by Dr. Elli Groner and Miriam Grunfeld