Butterflies are arriving in great colorful swarms to Israel’s Mediterranean city of Bat Yam, attracted to 150,000 new plants brought to town by the chief municipal landscaper, Eliav Hatuka. The beautiful insects are an indication of a healthy environment, since they avoid polluted places.
“Where there’s clean air, they come,” says Hatuka. “It’s nice to see how the number and quality of the butterflies increase as you get farther from the highways and closer to the shore.”
The notion of transforming Bat Yam, a relatively poor tightly-packed city just south of Tel Aviv, into Israel’s first natural butterfly city started with Hatuka’s summer 2008 family outing to Ramat Hanadiv, a memorial park in the northern town of Zichron Ya’acov that includes a small butterfly garden.
Thinking along the lines of one small butterfly garden, he consulted with Dubi Benyamini, head of the Israeli Lepidopterists Society for butterfly and moth enthusiasts, whose English website should be ready in the near future. Benyamini recommended taking a survey to ascertain which butterflies already existed in the area – it turned up 13 species – and planting numerous gardens of butterfly-attracting plants along Bat Yam’s east-west boulevards starting from the beachfront.
“These tracks will become butterflies ecological corridors,” Benyamini recalls predicting then.