Jezebel and Jezebels
Who was Jezebel ?
Intrigued by the somewhat unusual name ‘Jezebel” for a butterfly, I made an internet search and discovered an interesting and even more intriguing provenance of that term.
What are The Jezebels ?
The butterfly genus Delias is a very diverse one with about 225 described species. Endowed with the beautiful name Jezebels, most species are white or greyish on the upperside, with blackish margins and apexes. On the underside they are gaudily patterned in red, yellow, black and white – the colours serving to advertise their unpalatable nature to predators. Many of the species are highly localised, being endemic to particular islands in south-east Asia, or restricted to certain mountain ranges, e.g. in New Guinea. On 4hills I have so far identified at least two, probably three species and we observe them from September to April. I have rarely seen them in our forests however they love the flowers of our plum trees.
Imperial Jezebel on Plum tree 29.9.2015
Not being aware of that wide SE Asian –and Australian- distribution of that Genus, I was surprised when in August in Bhutan (around 2000 m ab. SL), I also discovered a JEZEBEL –very similar to our two species.
Currently, according to, scholars of history with a more modern leaning are starting to look historic character of Jezebel under a different light. What if, they asked the question this remarkable women who lived some 2000 years ago and endures as the name giver for a diverse genus of butterflies, was not that rather disgusting figure hostry depicts her but a women who was more emancipated that most and stood up to her beliefs.
I have depicted two species of Jezebel [below] which I have recorded so far on 4hills. The top right is the first species, the other five are the more common form in spring it seems, two of them with their typical grey if striking upper side. 5. October 2015.
Free as a Jezebel
You ask me
how I would paint a butterfly
I laugh, but say nothing
my heart, free as a a Jezebel
floating in the flowers
in the depths of a plum tree
not among men
~ Johannes Bauer (free after Li Bai*)