Plain Tiger Butterfly

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Morning after morning I reached the fields abutting the orchards of Mishmarot, Israel. It gets very hot there in early July, and the nectar from these Centaurea hyalolepis blooms must be especially tasty early, before the heat arrives. The wildflowers along the orchard margins, and in the agricultural ditch nearby, brought lots of butterflies. Good.

This comely female Danaus chrysippus was typical of almost all of the Plain tigers that I saw those 7 mornings. More difficult to approach than their closely related Monarchs in the U.S., it was almost always approach slowly . . . and watch the Plain tiger fly off to a another flowerhead, 20 feet away. Sweatband across my forehead threatening to be overrun with sweat, time and again I would regroup and decide whether to follow the one that flew, or find a new one.

Comparisons came to mind. North American Monarchs rarely are birdstruck (have bits of their wing margins missing). Israeli Plain tigers also are usually complete in wing. Both Danaus species sport the same colors. They are both categorized as milkweed (Asclepias spp.) butterflies. I don’t know the Israeli Asclepias species . . . ? Both have that same elegant flight, which can be flow and graceful, or as when the flee from Jeffrey, swift, stunningly swift.

The Plain tiger butterfly is a beaut, this one front lighted, the Middle Eastern sun highlighting its eye-popping wing coloration. The menacing thorns on this plant typify the needle-sharp thorns found on so many plants in this part of the world. Caution is the watchword when working the wilderness in that part of the world. Hm, isn’t that so true.