The ‘Acacia Ehrenbergiana’ is a desert tree. It is thorny and widespread in the Arabian Peninsula. It grows mostly in plains and valleys (wadis). Animals such as camels benefit from this tree’s leaves, and its trunks are also used to make wooden poles.
Tar liquid is extracted from it to treat scabies in animals. It is also used to paint the trunks of fruit trees to protect them from fungi and insects. In addition, this tree is famous among ‘bee producers’ as they produce good quality honey that gains an excellent reputation among the locals.
While this tree is celebrating its flowering season, the ‘Belenois aurota’ is active and begins its breeding season, taking advantage of wild trees’ yellow flowers as a primary food habitat.
‘Belenois aurota’, which is sometimes called ‘Caper White’, ranges throughout tropical Africa, Egypt, Arabian Peninsula and India. It is considered a permanent resident in Oman.
It possibly contributes to the populations emigrating to Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Forewings are strongly pointed, showing partial neat black veins on the edges but fully expressed on the undersides.
Whoever observes this butterfly finds it constantly active from sunrise until just before sunset. She frequents the branches of the fruit trees and enjoys the warmth of the atmosphere as she moves from one branch to another. This butterfly is easily spotted due to its beautiful colour. It has brown, white and black striped wings. It is characterised by its movement and a lot of movement between tree branches in search of flowers rich in liquids.
In the Wilayat of Qurayat, where “Acacia Ehrenbergiana” trees are abundant, dozens of these butterflies can be seen, especially during the flowering seasons, which start at the beginning of this month. “Many nature lovers and environmentalists come to see these types of butterflies during these days. The pleasure of watching is not complete without visiting a number of tourist sites in the Wilayat of Qurayat, including the Bimmah Sinkhole and the Wadi Dayqah Dam,” Ahmed al Nahdi, who has been working in the field of wildlife conservation for more than 20 years, told the Observer.
“When we see this large gathering of butterflies every year, we realise the importance of preserving wild trees. Therefore, we strive as much as possible to promote environmental awareness among the various segments of society. Conserving trees is the first step that leads us to conserve the elements of biodiversity,” he explained.
“When we see this number of butterflies, it comes to our mind the importance of focusing on studying this species, because we may reach new information regarding the life of Omani butterflies.”
National statistics indicate that more than 500 species of Omani butterflies have been observed. The competent authorities in entomology are still continuing their research to discover other types of butterflies found in various parts of Oman.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY YAHYA ALSALMANI