Butterflies at Our Door

Closed up in your house? The butterfly season has begun and they are on their way here; perhaps even more so this time. Look for them on flowers in your garden, in your balcony or next to your house and enjoy a colourful display for free


Here are a few facts about the amazing creatures called butterflies:

  • There are 20 thousand species of butterflies around the world, including 141 species in Israel. Butterflies are active all year round, but they are most common during May, which is considered peak season.
  • If we look at nectar-rich flowers in the yard or near the house we’ll notice that there are already many species flying around, including Cleopatra butterfly (Gonepteryx cleopatra), red admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Old World swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and others. The painted lady (Vanessa cardui), an orange-black migrating species that arrived last year in very large numbers from the Arabian Peninsula, is here this year too.
  • The butterfly life cycle lasts a few months to a year, during which they pass through four stages: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, adult butterfly. The adult butterfly usually lives for only two to three weeks. Migratory adult butterflies live for a few months.
IMG_3248נימפית הסרפד רחלי שוורץ-צחור
  • Butterflies do not hear or produce sound, but their senses of smell and sight are highly developed. Thus they can see and smell the flowers on whose nectar they feed, and find the plants on which the female lays her eggs and the caterpillars feed.
  • Small as they are, they have very sophisticated methods for warding off predators: from strong colours such as black, orange and red, which indicate that they are poisonous, to images of the eyes of their predators – lizards or birds – that adorn their wings, so that they really “look their predator in the eye”, causing it to turn and run away!
  • When life returns to normal, and even now, you can purchase and plant butterfly-attracting plants, to bring butterflies to your private garden or window box. Recommended plants: Pentas, a highly recommended nectar-rich plant for butterflies, Lantana, Ruta chalepensis and garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus).
  • Butterflies serve as indicators that teach us about expected changes in nature, thus they allow us to actually predict the future. Many studies
March2 2005זנב סנונית נאה רחלי שוורץ-צחור 065

have shown that in places where the abundance and number of butterfly species decreases there is also a  ecrease in the number of species of plants, birds, reptiles and more.

Now, as we humans are closed up in our homes, transport and aeroplanes have almost completely stopped operating, less pollution is emitted to the atmosphere, and nature is cleaner. We have already seen recent videos of crowded cities around the world where butterflies had never been seen – and suddenly they are appearing. It is very likely that in the next few days we’ll see them here too!

When the lockdown ends and life returns to normal, the annual butterfly count will take place, and Dr. Racheli Schwartz-Tzachor, ecologist and sustainability coordinator at Ramat Hanadiv, invites you all to participate and report on the types of butterflies you see. Anyone can do this using our designated app.

Did you like it? Join our free mailing list to receive monthly news and updates about activities for the whole family. Register here.