21 Feb 2016

Painted Lady near Dammam – Record by Vinu Mathew

Vinu found and photographed a couple of Painted Lady at a site near Dammam in January 2016. This is a common butterfly at times but as Saudi Arabia has a mostly desert environment it is often difficult to persuade people that wildlife can be abundant at certain times in the region. The Painted Lady is a migrant species and their survival strategy is based on mobility and the endless search for conditions where they can breed. The Painted Lady is the world's most cosmopolitan butterfly and when it has a successful breeding season; individual butterflies can fly in any direction with some travelling thousands of kilometres. Thus if some habitat in Arabia is suddenly blessed with an abundance of rain, some Painted Lady will almost certainly find it, breed and lay their eggs. Their progeny will then almost certainly leave the area, so if the area is not suitable for breeding again for many years, it won't matter; the progeny will have found still other places to breed. Obviously many butterflies die in such a process as this nomadic life is harsh, but the species will survive. The Painted Lady and other migrant butterflies are less specialized in their choice of food plant and habitat than most of the sedentary species. This is because they can't be as fussy to survive and as a result can live in harsher environments. If winter rains have been good and flora has flourished the number of Painted Lady recorded increases significantly. As a result of our recent rains there is a strong probability that a good number of these butterflies will be seen this year.
Painted Lady

Painted Lady

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