Meet Husein Ali Zorkot: SPNL’s Researcher & Scientific Illustrator is chasing the Butterflies of Lebanon

Husein Ali Zorkot is a field Biologist, Naturalist, Researcher and Scientific Illustrator at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon is working on a set of upcoming guides.
The colourful “Butterfly Gardening in Lebanon,” a field manual of… you guessed… butterfly gardening in Lebanon, with additional drawings and page after page descriptions of the 165 Lebanese butterflies and their host and nectar source plants.

The book “A Guide to the Moths and Microlepidoptera of Lebanon,” a compendium of about 450 species of Lebanese moths, and “A Guide to the Amphibians of Lebanon and the Middle East,” a comprehensive guide to the 110 species found in the region.

Meanwhile, Zorkot is working on developing the architectural foundations of a natural butterfly garden in in Hima Kherbet Kanafar. This Hima, according to SPNL research, is home to 44 species of butterflies. Our goal, named 100 Butterflies, is to increase this number to 100 or higher, and to include rare and threatened species. There are 165 species of butterflies in Lebanon, so this goal of conservation is definitely realistic and feasible.
Hima Kherbet Kanafar provides an ideal habitat to butterflies and is a suitable location to construct a butterfly garden. The forest provides a windbreak and a myriad of sheltering sites. The boulders provide ideal basking spots where butterflies can warm themselves. The nearby water sources provides butterflies with mudpuddling sites where they can derive additional nutrients. And the hima’s geographic position allows butterflies to engage in otherwise normal behaviours such as hilltopping, while the hima’s position encourages a high biodiversity of Rhopalocerans and is on the route of migratory species.

What are the ingredients of a thriving butterfly garden?

There are 8.

The first are nectar source plants, these are melliferous plants that provide imagos with nectar. They are usually brightly coloured and highly scented wildflowers and shrubs. There are numerous native and tropical species to choose from.

The second are larval host plants (LHPs) that provide butterflies with egg laying sites, the larva with food, and often secure locations where chrysalides complete pupation into adults.

Trees, they provide butterflies with shelters and windbreaks, keeping them secure and warm from the cold and a place where butterflies can aggregate in large numbers.

Grasses, they are host plants and places where many species of butterflies complete their development and conglomerate.

Water and sand, providing butterflies with places to derive additional nutrients during mudpuddling.

Rocks and boulders, providing butterflies with basking sites, where they can sunbathe directly in the sunlight and increase their temperatures.

Animals, a flourishing microhabitat of ants and other organisms symbiotic with butterflies, especially myrmecophilous species.

Eighth, conservation practices, such as the lack of pesticide use, the use of specified host plants to attract rare and threatened species, and the integration of the garden with a forest ecosystem to limit the deleterious effects of deforestation and soil erosion.

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