I’ve scoured Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America and I cannot find an North American butterfly that is similar to this Large Salmon Arab Butterfly. Where’d I meet this eye-pleasing yellow butterfly? I was working the dirt roads that cut through agricultural fields in Binyamina in central Israel, not to far from the Mediterranean coast. This wildflower grows along many such roads, and butterflies visit it much.
I love photographing butterflies in the HolyLand. They have walked the same trails, ancient many, as I have, seen the same butterflies as I have. I have little doubt that they stopped and marveled at the same butterflies as I have. That they were pleased as I’ve been at G-d’s beautiful winged beauties.
We here in the USA have a butterfly that we see nearly everywhere, one that is so familiar that we hardly notice it. The Orange Sulphur flies in meadows and gardens. Seeing a fresh one? A real pick me up, no?
In the HolyLand (Israel) a closely related yellow flies, the Large Salmon Arab butterfly (Madais fausta). It too loves to nectar on wildflowers and on garden blooms.
This male was seen north of Tel Aviv, in the village of Binyamina. I was visiting family there, and took a walk along farming roads, along the edges of orange, tangerine and grapefruit orchards. He was intent upon nectaring, and tolerated my Macro- approach some. Was it hot? Yes, some 91F Middle East hot, but the rewards for me were real and loved.
A bust out! butterfly for me, 7,000 miles from my home, there he is, I found this one and some others. The Blue Arab butterfly, Colotis phisadia. Tel Aviv? No. Jerusalem? No. The Mediterranean coast? No. Galilee? No. Golan? No.
To see this unusual ‘white’ butterfly, you had to travel in Israel, to its eastern borders, at the Dead Sea, or to the eastern Sinai desert, where for sure you’d be kidnapped by who knows what terrorist group, or by just as interesting locals.
Me, I took a train from Binyamina, Israel south to Beersheva, then a bus to Ein Gedi. I stayed several days in the SPNI field houses there. I hiked from the field house where I stayed to this Wadi (sizable dry river bed). Along the side of the wadi I found them, Blue Arabs. Sooo difficult to approach, nearly impossible to get a good macro- image, and the sun pouring down hot all the time.
I wanted my own images of the Blue Arab. I had hoped that you’d enjoy seeing a butterfly that is different, and that won’t come to you. You’d have to come to it, in the boiling sun, in wadis far, far from Madison, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, Frewsburg or Silver Spring.
Congrats! for you’ve seen the uncommon Blue Arab butterfly. Other places to see them? Jordan, that Sinai ( again, loaded with terrorists ), and Saudi Arabia.
Our 2nd post of a male Madais Faust. Here we view the ventral (below-the-wing) surface. Our earlier view of a Large Salmon Arab examines the dorsal (upper) wing features.
An example of the Pieridae species, the Madais Faust is related to the white butterflies and the yellow butterflies that are so well known around the globe. This of course is an Israeli Pieridae. North American Pierids include the abundant Cabbage White butterflies as well as the common Orange Sulphur butterflies.
Reference guides explain that the yellow wing color is caused by high concentrations of stored uric acid. Uric acid is the nitrogenous compound produced when proteins are metabolized. This stored uric acid reflects ultraviolet light. How that UV radiation is reflected impacts the courtship and reproduction success of each individual. Neat, huh?
- Mourning Cloak Butterfly (photomiser.com)
- Kamikaze Butterfly (emmacapell.wordpress.com)
- Delicate Butterflies (mindfuldrawing.com)
- Life Flutters By (storydoors.com)
I’m not sure how to explain what happened. Working the agricultural field roads north of Binyamina, Israel, Madais Fausta flew in now and again to eat the nectar on Camphor weed blooms. They appeared in groups of two or three. Within minutes they were gone. Ten minutes later they reappeared. This behavior continued from about 9:45 A.M. until about 11 A.M., but that’s not what continues to puzzle me.
What I cannot fathom is why I methodically photographed these butterflies on three sunny mornings with no wind, good sun and little or no distraction from man, beast or donkey, and yet I scored less than a handful of “keepers.” Keepers are slides that meet my demanding requirements: excellent wing exposure and detail; good positioning of the butterfly (never with the posterior end facing you); vibrant color in both the butterfly and wildflower; as sharp as possible images of eyes, antenna and abdomen. I photographed more than 45 slides and yet I have only two or three keepers? Por que?
Monarchs in the U.S. are superb subjects. I am more than pleased with the many images of them in my library. Hairstreak butterflies photograph quite well. Tiger swallowtails, spicebush swallowtails, eastern black swallowtails, pipevine swallowtails all constantly move their wings violently as they nectar, but even so, I have been able to photograph very satisfying images. Tiny blues and azures also deliver terrific images.
Large Salmon Arabs are very pleasing to the eye. They are a sweet, sweet yellow with nicely contrasting black markings. Somehow, the camera lens does not like them. How can this be?
Photographing children reveals that the camera lens loves some of them and never seems to be so kind to other youngsters. Is that why top models succeed and other aspiring models do not?
Here then is a smallish butterfly that flies much of the year in Israel and the Sinai. It is like a dab of sunshiny butter on the wing. It is also very serious about eating nectar.
- Large Salmon Arab Butterfly (2) (wingedbeauty.com)
- Swallowtail butterfly (tenyearsinruralfrance.wordpress.com)