Redux: That Female Blue-Spotted Arab

Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow

The habitat: Very hot, rocky terrain at Ein Gedi, a short distance (but too hot to walk it) from the Dead Sea. The HolyLand. I went there to find this butterfly, the Blue-Spotted Arab and one or two others.

I made a big mistake, by not renting a car. I walked those mornings from my SPNI Nature field house to the border of that dry creek bed. Male Blue-Spotted Arabs were here and there amongst the rocky terrain. They would not allow any approach closer than 15-feet. I did what I do, and scored some good images. Females? I searched for them, and found perhaps three.

Here’s the most sympathetic of those female butterflies. She appreciated that I was near flush with the sun’s heat, and that I was one of the good guys. Her yellows and stark black plus, were strikingly beautiful.

A female Blue-Spotted Arab butterfly, in one of the most arid destinations in the world, smack dab in the middle of the HolyLand.

Just remembering those days in Ein Gedi . . . sing to me.


Residing in Israel’s Wadi David at Ein Gedi, this is One Dedicated Butterfly

Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow

This is our fourth post of Colotis Phisadia, otherwise known as a Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly. Hours of travel and three mornings of dedicated pursuit yielded a good result. Residing in Wadi David at Ein Gedi, this is one dedicated butterfly.

The Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly has spent much of this morning making his rounds, never flying too far from his starting point. In full rich color, he patiently waits for the opportunity to display his primacy and his genetic finery to potential mates.

The Wadi David at Ein Gedi was bone-dry. It’s inevitable that at some point we pause and ask, “How do these butterflies satisfy their need for water?” The sky drizzled rain drops the next morning, for just about five minutes.

For those of you who haven’t yet seen the three other posts of Blue-Spotted Arab’s, we photograph with a Macro Lens, using a hand-held camera. This is one tough butterfly to approach, especially in the Wadi. Our images were the result of much negotiation. The butterfly allowed us to approach within four feet, and we agree not to come one inch closer. A successful negotiation in the Middle East. Good.


Female Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly in an Exotic Habitat

Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow

The Colotis Phisadia males have been already been posted. Happily, we can introduce this female Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly. You might be wondering about the wildflower she is sitting on. It’s not known.

In my travel, males were much more numerous and available for photographing than females. The males spent many more hours flying and resting. She has different goals. Her primary one is eating nectar. We discussed how skittish this species is. It’s well and good that this one allowed a moderate approach by a photographer.

Females show a more pronounced yellow. Of the photographs we took, we prefer this image, with its display of both ventral and dorsal wing.

I miss those December mornings at Ein Gedi. Like any exotic habitat that you are lucky enough to visit, you never know what you’ll see one minute to the next. How do you know when you are so blessed? You know because you find yourself frequently checking what time it is, reluctantly acknowledging that morning is quickly slipping away. In the afternoon, there’s way too much sun to capture images of winged beauties.


Blue-Spotted Arab Butterflies Loathe Being Approached by a Person with a Camera

Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow

Our second post to-date of Colotis Phisadia in Wadi David at Ein Gedi, Israel. He has spent a good deal of time scouring his tight territorial perimeter for suitable female mates, and he’s now taking a brief rest.

Followers of will now understand that Blue-Spotted Arabs are loathe to be approached. Are they skittish? Yes. So with 3 mornings of photography fieldwork, this is the dorsal (upper) exposure that I will share with you.

Is he flying in an oasis? Sounds like a dreamy existence. Don’t we often view television and video commercials teasing us with the vices of oasis life: drink, sun, and sensuality? Our boy butterfly doesn’t quite seem to have it that good. Nevertheless, he looks pretty handsome, well nourished, and content that he doesn’t have to spend a $$$ ransom to travel to his Wadi from the U.S. or Brazil or the U.K. or Tokyo or Sydney.

They sure gave them  a name, didn’t they?

For our followers, 2013 will be a fine year. I am looking forward to photographing butterflies from the National Butterfly Center near the Texas/Mexican border, and if the military situation doesn’t change, from Israel’s northern-most part of Golan– plus a surprise or two.



December in Israel and Colotis phisadia was the Butterfly Species I was Looking for

Large Salmon Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Binyamina, Israel

The bus ride from the Be’er Sheva University train station was unforgettable. We traveled two hours eastward through terrain unknown to me, and then the road descends, and continues to descend until we were at the Dead Sea. The bus follows the western shores of the Dead Sea, finally arriving at its last stop, the Ein Gedi oasis, our destination.

Colotis phisadia was the butterfly species that I was looking for. It was December in Israel, and the majority of Israeli butterflies were absent during Israel’s winter season. But this was a different place, Ein Gedi. It is the lowest place on earth, 400 meters below sea level. Though Tel Aviv‘s daytime temperatures were in the low 60’s Farenheit, Ein Gedi’s December days were a Middle Eastern 80 Farenheit. So it worked. I had traveled nearly 5 hours from my hosts in Binyamina, and the Blue-Spotted Arabs were flying.

If southern Israel is desert, how can Ein Gedi be an oasis? When rain falls on the Judean mountains to the west of Ein Gedi it finds its way into underground water tables. That water works its way east until it reaches underground reserves at Ein Gedi. This system has sustained this oasis since well before David sought refuge there.

Blue-spotted arabs are very wary, and most of my approaches are not rewarded. Almost every attempt I made ended with the butterfly fleeing. This female was kinder than most, and here she is for you to examine.

Their habitat is limited in southeastern Israel and the southeastern coast of the Sinai Peninsula.  All areas have a limited human population. To see them, you have to travel.

Photographing Blue-Spotted Arab butterflies is unique in another way. Their home territory is so striking, so unique, so breath-taking that you long remember your experience of going to Ein Gedi to photograph them in the Wadi.