A survey of the Bombicoidea (Insecta: Lepidoptera) of Israel

The Southeastern Mediterranean is considered as a junction of Mediterranean, Irano-turanian and Saharo-sindian climatic regions from a zoogeographical point of view, which results in increased levels of species richness (Por, 1975). Being a geographical center of the South-eastern Mediterranean, the area of Israel includes most of the species known from neighboring countries.

Regardless of the different approaches to systematics of the Macro-Lepidoptera, most specialists agree that they belong to two subfamilies, Noctuoidea and Bombicoidea. The Bombicoidea include a few families of Lepidoptera represented mostly by big and medium-sized, often colorful moths. In spite of that, Israeli fauna of Bombicoidea is poorly known, mainly because the moths fly only for 1-2 weeks per year (univoltine) and they come to light after midnight. Many of the Bombicoidea species are serious pests. Among them we note espcially Thaumetopoea wilkinsoni - the pine processionary moth larva which feed on pines, Ocnogyna loewii – a pest of many garden plants, and species of the genus Zeuzera which damage grapes in Israel.

Information available to date from Israeli and European Museums represents about 70-80 percentages of Israeli species. For some families a more precise collecting might reveal a larger number of species than is currently recognized (For example for families: Cossidae, Sesiidae, Notodontidae, Chlorophorinae). Furthermore, the taxonomy of many groups is rather weak and needs a revision that includes all species of Middle East.