Taxonomy and diversity of scale insects (Hemiptera: Coccoidea) in oak (Quercus spp.) forests of Israel, with an emphasis on Kermesidae

Over the past year (2010-2011) field excursions (average twice a month) were conducted to various oak forest habitats around Israel. These excursions had the following objectives: (i) to familiarize with the variety of oak habitats in Israel and establish future research sites (ii) to locate species of Kermesidae in locales previously recorded by researchers and to discover new locations and (iii) to sample leaves and branches harbored by scale insects for slide preparation and identification and to practice techniques of specimen preparation for microscope slide mounting.

Five species of Kermesidae (adult females) on both Quercus ithaburensis and Quercus calliprinos trees were recovered from various locations throughout Israel. The trees where Kermes species were found were tagged for future observations. Associated ants and parasitic wasps of Kermes species were also collected and they will be identified.

In addition, species of six other scale insect families (Asterolecaniidae, Coccidae, Diaspididae, Eriococcidae, Monophlebidae and Pseudococcidae) were recovered from sampled branches and leaves on Q. boissieri, Q. calliprinos and

Q. ithaburensis trees. All specimens that were recovered from the field were photographed, catalogued, slide mounted and classified according to family.

Future work will include; description, illustrations and keys of all stages of development of Kermesidae species in Israel. Molecular taxonomy will also be used to compare Israel Kermesidae species with other Palearctic Kermesidae species. In addition, I will identify, to the species level, all the scale insects that were collected during this study in order to update the list of coccoids associated with oaks in Israel.