Bulletin 14 - July 1981: Comments on Previous Bulletins

Comments on Previous Bulletins

by Tony Pittaway *

1) Some of the articles deal with the UAE's vegetation. Looking through these I have come to the conclusion that the best areas to look for butterflies would be rocky gorges with Capparis, areas of Acacia scrub and depressions containing Salvadora persica. This last plant, a close relative of Capparis, plays host to a great many butterfly larvae in Africa and Yemen.

2) Most people avoid collecting night flying insects for obvious reasons. While in Saudi Arabia I often spent nights in the desert and used a portable 'Heath type' UV moth trap which ran off the car's battery. This excellent apparatus is manufactured by Entech Services, 46 Mersey View, Liverpool, L22 6QB (Tel. 051 924 7412), and comes in two models: the better one has a photoelectric switch which turns it off at daybreak, thus saving the battery's power and allowing one to rise at ones leisure. (Cost: approx 35)

3) A further problem with most night insects is how to kill them. Most books recommend a cyanide bottle. In Saudi, I found the best method was to use an empty, washed, small peanut tin with a pop on lid (most supermarkets sell them). A half inch layer of plaster-of-paris was poured into this, allowed to dry over two days after which it was ready for use by putting a few drops of ethyl acetate or di-ethyl ether onto the plaster and closing the lid. By adding a few more drops just prior to putting an insect in, and leaving the beast for up to 15 minutes, the result was a most effective mini gas-chamber.

4) One article mentions Ibex. At the London Zoo there is a magnificent adult of the very rare subspecies still found in eastern Oman and maybe the eastern UAE. It is said to have been found as a kid on the UAE/Saudi border by a Bedouin.

5) In Bulletin No.6 (Dec. 1978) it states that the Ring-necked Parakeet has become established as a breeding bird from escapees. This species is native to eastern Iraq and northern Iran. Every autumn flocks of up to 50 individuals appear at Qatif Oasis, Tarut Island, Al Khobar and Doha to depart again come spring. In recent years small numbers have stayed on during summer to breed because of the extensive plantings of suitable nesting and food trees. This may be what has happened in the UAE. (This parrot has also established itself in southern England, with large flocks in some areas).

6) The same Bulletin also mentions Cicada plebeia. In Qatar it is confined to Doha while being totally absent from eastern and central Saudi Arabia. Maybe it is a recent immigrant and is still extending its range.

* Imperial College Field Station, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berks, SLS 7PY.

Tony Pittaway is currently studying Butterflies and Dragonflies of Arabia for a forthcoming publication. A further article entitled "Butterflies and Hawkmoths of Qatar and Eastern Saudi Arabia II" by Tony will appear in Bulletin 15 in November.



  1. Archaeology - Rob Western (323705)
  2. Plants - Rob Western (323705)
  3. Insects - Diane Donohue (345047)
  4. Birds - Jenny Hollingsworth / Bish Brown (323844)
  5. Reptiles - Bish Brown (323844)
  6. Fish/Corals - Roger Brown (821456)
  7. Animal Traces - Martin Willmot (820854)


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