Efi Naim, KKL-JNF Northern Region director of the Hula Valley area, and one of the initiators of the butterfly festival said, explained: “The festival lasts for two days and includes guided tours from the Hula Lake visitors’ center to the botanical garden, where participants can observe the fascinating world of butterflies, learn about their special relationship with the plants, and discover which host plants and sources of nectar they prefer.”
Butterfly spotting at the Hula Lake Botanical Garden. Photo: Rami Hahama, KKL-JNF
But this wasn’t all. The festival also included a wide variety of activities, games and creative pastimes for all members of the family, who were invited to count butterflies and attend a special children’s performance on a butterfly-related theme.
Most of the tours and activities were organized by local volunteers who had already acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience with butterflies. “KKL-JNF’s Hula Lake Park has in recent years stimulated a process of economic and social growth in northern Israel,” said Efi. “Many retirees and volunteers are involved in our activities, and some are taking part in the National Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, which records and collects data and other information on the condition of butterflies in Israel.”
One of the volunteers, Michal Gordon of Kibbutz Yiftah, explained: “Butterflies are a new area of interest for me, and I’m finding them fascinating. The way a butterfly lives and how it interacts with the environment have opened my eyes to a world that’s new to me. You can read up on butterflies but going out into nature and seeing them in their real world is something quite different.”
Michal is one of twenty-two volunteers who belong to the Lake Hula butterfly monitoring community that was created jointly by KKL-JNF and The Israeli Lepidopterist's Society.
“Keeping track of the butterfly population is relatively easy, and we monitor them every two weeks along three regular routes,” Michal told us. “We are a part of the great butterfly count underway in Israel now. It’s a very important project that will exert a great influence.”
“Monitoring butterflies is vitally important, and it’s being done all over the world,” added Efi. “As butterflies are creatures that are especially sensitive to changes in nature, they serve as an ecological indicator of alterations in the environment, such as modifications in vegetation or the climate. Agricultural sprays, pollution or extreme weather events have an immediate effect upon them, and by keeping track of them we can identify that something’s happened and try to diagnose the problem.”
As mentioned earlier, this is a nationwide project, but monitoring butterflies at Lake Hula is especially important and fascinating. The Lake Hula area is unique in both its closeness to the slopes of Mount Hermon and its wealth of vegetation and wetlands. “Israel is host to 150 types of butterflies, and Lake Hula attracts a wide variety of them,” says Michal. “The botanical garden contains a reconstruction of the lake as it was in the past, before it was drained, and all of it is based upon plants that once grew in the Hula Valley. This makes the site unique and renders it attractive to butterflies. I’m enjoying myself. I learn more and more every moment I’m here, and I also feel that I’m contributing to an important project of great significance.”
You, too, can help with this nationwide initiative. A simple online form
(Hebrew\Arabic only) enables anyone to report on the butterflies they observe around their home and take part in this important undertaking.