A survey of the plant-feeding gall midges (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) of Israel

Cecidomyiidae (commonly known as gall midges) is one of the largest families of flies (Diptera), with more than 6,100 described species in 783 genera and many more undescribed and unknown species worldwide. In many parts of the world, including the Middle East, knowledge on this family is scarce and it has been virtually unstudied. Roughly 70% of the known species in the family are gall inducers and these constitute the largest group of gall-inducing organisms, exhibiting a remarkable diversity of host plants, gall structures, and life-history strategies including many species of economic importance. The limited knowledge on the Israeli gall-midge fauna is based on a handful of studies that focused on specific host plants or Cecidomyiid genera, and on few species of economic importance. Based on sporadic observations in recent years, the number of cecidomyiid species in Israel adds up to 135, at least half of which are undescribed. It is safe to assume that the Israeli fauna comprises hundreds of additional species that are yet to be discovered, with the most promising plant families being the Brassicaceae, Pappilionaceae, and Poaceae. Accordingly, these host families will be given special attention in the current survey. The aims of this study are to conduct the first systematic collecting of plant-feeding Cecidomyiidae in Israel, document their host associations and gall types, describe new species and provide keys for their identification, thus characterizing the country's fauna and laying the ground for further (phylogenetic, ecological and other) research.