Lepidopterists rejoice

Israel blanketed by millions of butterflies

Thanks to unusually large migration from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, more than 10 million butterflies cross Israel on their way to Europe

A Vanessa cardui butterfly, one of some 10 million to cross into Israel on March 21, 2019 ( Yaniv Levi/ Israel Nature and Parks Authority )

As children across Israel dressed up for the holiday of Purim, the country also took on a festive look Thursday with millions of butterflies blanketing parks and nature reserves.

An annual migration of butterflies was unusually big this year, with some 10 million Vanessa cardui (also known as the cosmopolitan or the painted lady) crossing into Israel in recent days, according to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

“The source of this unusually large migration is from the desert areas of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which had an unusual rainy winter and lots of growth, which allowed the caterpillars to eat and prosper,” said Dotan Rotem, an ecologist with the parks authority.

Rotem said the butterflies were heading north and west and were also starting to reach Cyprus on their way to Spain and other parts of Europe.

Rotem noted that these butterflies wont survive to return to Israel, but their offspring will be back.

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