Long-Tailed Blue Butterfly on a Shrub Plant, not far from Wadi David in Israel’s Ein Gedi

Long-Tailed Blue Butterfly photographed by Jeffery Zablow

Most Lampides Boeticus are inactive at this time, but December 3rd in this oasis is a very suitable habitat for a butterfly species that flies from February through November in most of Israel. This Long-Tailed Blue Butterfly is nectaring on shrub plants, not far from Wadi David in Ein Gedi.

In a now familiar scenario, I approach and he flees. I approach again and he flees. With the last approach, the butterfly is goooone. Three days spent in this unique destination did produce satisfactory photographic work for me.

The Long-Tailed Blue Butterflies that I have seen throughout Israel evidence little if any wing damage caused by predation. Do some enjoy Luck! in life? Hmm? Though they flee from my approach, you would think that formidable predators would have already enjoyed this tasty morsel. Or is this butterfly a tasty morsel? Is it bitter tasting, because of it’s diet? Unlikely, when the Lampides Boeticus host plants are a variety of legumes.

Just yesterday I read of a new body of research, suggesting that insects have not, notice, not, evolved to thwart bird predation. For how long have we been lectured to that the need to evade birds was the great force behind prey evolution? These biologists have extensively tested this theory, and found that there is a much more likely vector of insect (butterfly) adaptive evolution. Spiders. Their research has left little doubt for them, that butterflies and others have changed to improve survivability in a natural world of countless species of spiders. Now that’s something to consider.

I invite you to have a look at our other posts of Long-Tailed Blue butterflies?


Common along the Southern Israeli-Jordanian Border: a Deudorix Livia Butterfly

Deudorix Livia Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Binyamina, Israel

On November 27th, one day away from my Birthday (note the capital ‘B’) I found myself in Binyamina, Israel, staying with family .  That’s always the best. I didn’t rent a car, so on the mornings I wasn’t at Ramat Hanadiv or in the Wadi David at Ein Gedi, I was hiking the agricultural fields. Sometimes I asked the Above for success in my search for the butterflies of the mysterious Middle East. I was in Israel to celebrate the birth of a grandson. Seeing new butterflies in late November was a challenge, and it was the second on my list.

Well, it worked. After photographing Large Salmon Arabs, Small Whites, Clouded Yellows and that yummy! Lesser Fiery Copper, I was ecstatic. My trip to Ein Gedi, to find the exotic Blue-Spotted Arabs was ahead of me. Good. But more fun was awaiting me. Wait a second! What was this tiny fellow that just alighted onto those Camphor yellow blooms? OK! Something new. New!

Shooting slide film has certain disadvantages. After scoring several exposures of this fellow, it did its fighter jet flight. Whissst! Gone! My old NYC cop friends were able to recall critical features of someone with whom they had an encounter with. I’m not sure that I’ve developed that with butterflies. So after concentrating on getting the images, lighting, manual settings, I could barely recall the identification highlights of this guy.

Comes back the slide and here we have a Deudorix Livia. Smile! Common along the southern Israeli-Jordanian border and the eastern and western shores of the Sinai peninsula. It is  much less common in most of Israel. Very good!

This male sports his intact tails and prominent black hindwing spots. A bit of wing damage reveals the hot burnt copper coloration of upper wing surface. It’s a  Hairstreak.

This photograph was among the many successes of that trip. It is consistent with my oft written explanation of Why I continue to enjoy what I do. You can never be sure.

Could this encounter be a birthday gift?


Small White Butterfly in Israel does not Care a Whit about Majestic Palm Trees

Caper White Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Binyamina, Israel

It’s November 19th, on one of those agricultural roads in Binyamina, Israel. The Artogeia Rapae butterfly has no interest in this lovely town, or its superb Binyamina winery, nor does she care a whit about the majestic palm trees that line the main street in Binyamina. It’s the same old dilemma: I must decide, again, whether or not to use a portion of my 50 or so rolls of Fuji Velvia film to photograph her.

It is so difficult to resist. She’s one of those pedestrian butterflies that we train ourselves to disregard. So plain are these butterflies, lacking Pow! Pow! colors. But then, aren’t we fascinated by certain talented photographers who train their camera lenses on so-called ordinary people in ordinary situations, and then create visual magic? Don’t we also venerate painters who have done the same?

That is the essence of the Small White Butterfly on a farm road in the Israel coastal plain. We see beauty in the familiar.


Here was a Butterfly I had Never Seen Before: a Lesser Fiery Copper

 Lesser Fiery Copper butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Binyamina, Israel

Here is a reminder of one of the reasons that some of us love to photograph butterflies. It’s November in Binyamina, Israel. My family has hosted us, and it’s a joy to be there with them. Regrettably, we haven’t rented a car. So, on several mornings we walk a moderate distance and explore the agricultural roads that surround Binyamina. What can we expect to find in mid-November, with the fields dormant and wildflower bloom limited on our left and on our right?

Camphor weed (Heterotheca Subaxillaris) was the only significant bloom extant. Several species of butterflies were coming in to eat nectar, in waves, so to speak. Large Salmon Arabs, Caper Whites and Small Whites, plus one or two Plain Tigers. They would suddenly fly in, and 10 minutes later all would be gone. Then 15 minutes later, they were back again. Were they the same ones I suppose?

On this mid-morning, I did a double take. There was a butterfly I had never seen before: a Lesser Fiery Copper. She was fresh, vividly colored and eating nectar with great energy and movement. I shot as many exposures as I could, following her from one plant to the next, from this side of the road to the other. Then she flew away and that was that. It was a chance encounter with Lycaena Thersamon, or was it? It was a small butterfly and oh, such a pretty one. This one does not waste a single second. It’s a butterfly of purpose.


Caper White Butterflies Tolerate My Macro-Lens while They are Eating

Lycaena Thersamon Omphale Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Binyamina, Israel
Caper White butterflies earn a solid A+ for feeding on nectar. Found throughout Israel from June to December, they fly in to nectar, eat furiously, and then fly off to who knows where? Later in the morning, a small number of them appear once again, and again they nectar with extreme purpose. They tolerate my macro- lens while they are eating. They are less tolerant during their brief breaks, taken probably to rest.

We photographed this male butterfly in Binyamina, one hour northeast of Tel Aviv. We also photographed Anaphaeis aurora in Ein Gedi. The Ein Gedi population was difficult to approach or photograph.

Their hostplants are capers. We are familiar with capers from our kitchen.

I found myself judging the photographic value of the males by the distinctive white spear tips on the outer margins of their forewings. This one was as good as any that we had seen. We wonder if this factor is considered by females when they look for a potential mate?