Common Blue (Mt. Hermon)

Polyonattus Icarus butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

There are 3 Polyomattus blue butterflies found in Israel. I was hoping that this fellow was P. icarus juno, very uncommon and found only on Mt. Hermon, at the northern extreme of Israel (Golan region). That would have been good, very good. Working with my 4 field guides to Israeli butterflies, I have concluded that he is instead P. icarus zelleri, found from central israel (south of Jerusalem) all the way up to the peak of Hermon. The 3rd of the 3 is P. loewii, seen from the Dead Sea south and in the Sinai (Egypt).

Our Common blue is found then in Jerusalem, Gaza, Tel-Aviv, Petach Tikva, Haifa, Tzfat and on Mt. Hermon. Explanation? Butterflies that frequent a wide range of locales and habitats should be considered generalists. Adaptable species that can enjoy a variety of habitat and depend on a wide range of nectaring flowers for their food.

Even though we took the cable car up to the peak of Mt. Hermon, and 7000 feet above sea level searched for the rare Leps of this breathtaking mountain, here we record a butterfly identical to those that fly from shrub to shrub in the gardens fronting the beautiful Ben Gurion Street (Rehov) in Tel-Aviv.

P. icarus in the big city? No way. They stay up on their Mt. Hermon. No impetus to go down to the Mediterranea Sea, or tour Lake Tiberias or visit exquisite Ramat Hanadiv . . . or even to see what humbles most of us, the ancient city of Jerusalem.

Jeff singing the blues on Mt. Hermon in June 2008 (Reminder: Military only at this time).


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