Naama Barak
March 24, 2019, Updated March 26, 2019

Purim festivities in Israel were extra-special this year, with millions of fluttering butterflies creating the perfect backdrop to the colorful holiday celebrations taking place across the country.

The painted lady butterflies (proper name: Vanessa cardui) were making their way from the Arabian Peninsula to Cyprus and onward to the rest of Europe in the largest migration seen in Israel in recent years.

“The enormous quantities coming to us from the east are arriving from Kuwait or the Arabian Peninsula. They’re arriving in Israel, coming down for an overnight stop, fueling up and drinking nectar from the many flowers out in the fields right now, from chrysanthemums and other flowers. Tomorrow morning they’ll take off toward the shore and then northward to Cyprus and Europe,” Association of Butterfly Lovers in Israel head Dubi Binyamini said over the weekend.

A man holds painted lady butterflies in Israel, March 21, 2019. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90

“I received reports from Be’eri, from the northern Negev all the way to the Golan, a real front across all of Israel, a front of at least 200 kilometers, and then it’s simple to do the math,” he explains.

“We know how many butterflies pass each meter every minute. Multiply it by their flying time, which is at least six hours (from 8am to 2pm, even 4pm), times the front’s width. That equals at least 100 million butterflies, and in the denser areas it’s over one billion butterflies a day.”

The painted lady butterfly reportedly can be found on every continent except South America and Antarctica. It’s easy to spot, characterized by its orangey-brown wings with black and white spots.

A painted lady butterfly sits on a branch in northern Israel, March 21, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)

We’re keeping it mind as a costume for next year’s Purim celebrations in the hope that the butterflies will land again in time for the holiday. Just imagine how picture perfect that could be.

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