10 March 2014

Desert White & Greater Tiger – Sabkhat Al Fasl

The range of the Desert White (Pontia glauconome) is quite extensive and goes from Somalia north to Libya, in Africa and east to Arabia and Central Asia including Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia this species is found almost anywhere where rocky outcrops occur, particularly on rocky plains and hills around Dhahran, Al Khobar and Al Hassa Oasis. It favours rocky wadis and areas and surrounding gullies preferably with the perennial Cruciferae or Brassicale Zilla present. The Desert White is a very fast, zig-zagging low flying species often settling on Cruciferae flowers or other vegetation. It is relatively common from early March to early December in a multitude of overlapping broods that differ from area to area depending on the rains. This year the poor rains have limited the early broods and only now are they being seen with some regularity. The Desert White is variable especially with regard to the amount of ‘green’ pigmentation on the underside that can be very heavy to almost absent. This variability can be large and can even occur between generations.
Desert White
The Greater Tiger Metasyrphus luniger is one of the most common hoverflies in Arabia and occurs between January and May. They are usually found in large numbers wherever vegetation occurs and as there have been good rains this winter in the Eastern Province there is plenty of flowering vegetation for the insects. Adults feed off nectar from flowers and the larvae are carnivorous and generally eat aphids. This photograph is of a male as the insect has two bands below the yellow spots like markings. Females lack these bands. Both these insects were photographed at Sabkhat Al Fasl last weekend where there was plenty of insect and wildlife activity.
Great Tiger