A survey of the lace bugs (Hemiptera: Tingidae) of Israel

The Tingidae (lace bugs) form a large family of phytophagous, terrestrial bugs (Hemiptera) with ca. 2000 described species worldwide. They are easily recognized in the field by their small body size (1-6 mm) and the densely reticulate hemelytra and body that are often also adorned by conspicuous outgrowths. Most of the species are monophagous or oligophagous. Tingids feed mostly on the vegetative parts of plants, but sometimes affect reproductive parts and some species are known to induce galls. Many species are pests of agricultural and ornamental plants, whereas some are used as biological control agents against weeds. Hemiptera in general and the Tingidae in particular have been studied in Israel only sporadically, and publications on the world fauna do not cover the tingid fauna of Israel adequately. To date 54 tingid species have been reported from Israel, but the TAUI collection houses about 30 additional species that have not been recorded from the country yet and several that are probably undescribed. About ten additional species are known from adjacent countries and will likely be found in Israel if a systematic survey is conducted. The suggested survey will include well-planned, systematic collecting of tingids in selected natural areas throughout the country that represent the family’s distribution in Israel, as well as in agricultural settings and nurseries, in order to document possible occurrence of invasive species that are introduced into the country on ornamentals or on agricultural products. This study will generate an up-to-date, comprehensive and properly-identified collection of the Tingidae of Israel, in the highest scientific standard, including addition to the computerized database of the National Collection of Insects. It will thus contribute to a sound knowledge of a dominant and economically important hemipteran group in the Israeli fauna, and findings will be disseminated in the form of a checklist and a user-friendly illustrated field-guide to the Israeli taxa.