25 June 2015

The Desert Fritillary – Raydah Escarpment

Whilst birdwatching at the village at the bottom of the Raydah Escaprment I found a number of Fritillary butterflys. I had no idea what species they were but checked in the butterfly book to Arabia and found they were Desert Fritillary Melitaea deserticola. This is a truly desert species, found only in the hottest driest places of North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Egypt), Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It closely resembles the spotted fritillary M. didyma but has more orange and with reduced upperside black markings. The antennae are orange beneath extending from the club to at least a third the way down the shaft, compared to black with just an orange tip in didyma and the underside of the abdomen is orange, compared to white. They fly from March into the summer depending on seasonal conditions where they like very hot dry rocky slopes and gullies with sparse vegetation. The Desert Fritillary is a butterfly of the Nymphalidae family with the subspecies found in southwest Saudi Arabia being Melitaea deserticola macromaculata (Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan & western Saudi Arabia).
Desert Fritillary