There's a new butterfly in town! The Common Blue Butterfly was crowned "Israel's Butterfly" in a special ceremony with the Minister of Environmental Protection, Idit Silman, on Sunday in Jerusalem.
The naming of the insect was a joint initiative of several organizations, including the Association of Butterfly Enthusiasts, with the goal of aligning with other nations that have a butterfly as their national symbol.
Due to its attractiveness and widespread presence, the butterfly serves as an entry point to nature, which can engage the public in environmental and conservation matters, foster a connection to natural values, and safeguard exceptional habitats for Israel, especially the country's endangered butterfly species.
The selection of the "National Butterfly of Israel" adds to the list of well-known nature symbols in the country, such as the national bird, the Upupa, and other symbols like the anemone and olive. This butterfly was selected to represent the often-overlooked department of insects, which is a vital component of the ecosystem.
Not many thought the underdog in the butterfly race would win the hearts of the voters, as it wasn't exactly the favorite, but the male's shiny blue exterior stole the show.
This butterfly is common enough that it's practically a household name all over the country, even making appearances in Ein Gedi, Sde Boker, Mitzpe Ramon, the south of the Gaza Strip, and even at the Sinai border.
And don't let its popularity fool you - this butterfly still manages to keep things interesting by flapping its wings almost all year round, except for January. And if you want to spot a male, just look for the one with the flashy blue color and white wing margins - he's not one to blend in with the crowd.
Second place - Southern white admiral
This species can be found in central and southern Europe (northern Iberia, southern and eastern France, Italy, the Balkans, and the Alps), in Western Asia, in Syria, the Caucasus and Iran. These butterflies live in light woodland, in woodland glades and in forest edges.
Third place - Plain Tiger
This is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of about 7–8 cm (2.8–3.1 in). The body is black with many white spots. The wings are orange, the upperside brighter and richer than the underside.
The apical half of the forewing is black with a white band. The hindwing has three black spots in the center. The wings are bordered in black and outlined with semicircular white spots.
This species exhibits slight sexual dimorphism, as the Male has large scent glands on his hindwings, which the female lacks.
Iris Hahn, CEO of the Society for the Protection of Nature, emphasized the significance of "large open spaces" for Israel's wildlife, including butterflies, stating that such areas are necessary for their existence.
She explained, "A place where there are butterflies is a place we - as humans - would like to be," underlining the importance of these creatures in creating an attractive environment.
Hahn also highlighted that the presence of butterflies is indicative of a "healthy and functioning ecosystem," which is essential for the survival of various species.
She further warned that "a wide variety of threats endanger the open spaces in Israel these days," and declared that her organization, along with others, will continue to protect and preserve such areas from any destructive activities that might harm the natural environment.
Dr. Doron Markel, Chief Scientist of the Jewish National Fund, stressed the significance of butterflies as "pollinators" and an "important component of the ecosystem and forests."
He explained that preserving the forest, which is a "healthy ecosystem," is crucial in the fight against the climate crisis and the maintenance of "biological diversity."
According to him, the existence of butterflies plays a critical role in achieving these goals.