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Project "Insects of Israel"

The objective is the study of taxonomy and distributions of insects of Israel with special attention to the nature protection issues.

Fauna of insects of Israel is a subject of long-term cooperative studies of Nature and Parks Authority of Israel (Dr. R. Ortal), Tel Aviv University (Dr. A. Freidberg, Dr. V. Kravchenko), Hebrew University Jerusalem (Prof. Y. Schlein, Dr. G. Müller) and WITT Museum, Munich. Butterflies (Lepidoptera) have formed a main subject of study for the first 20 years (1986-2005).
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The study of silk moths of Israel and perspectives of their further studies in the area of Levant and Near East.

At the end of 90es, Dr. G. Müller and Thomas J. Witt started a scientific cooperation for inventory of silk moths „Bombyces and Sphinges“, which Müller began to light trap since the very beginning of the project. Study of the material brought a whole bunch of new discoveries and unidentified specimens. Even the study of classic species for Jordan valley, known by only a few old specimens, turned to be a problem. A concept of the research has appeared in strong collaboration, making it possible for Müller to set special expeditions. Those allowed him to collect material on species in question; sometimes even to grow them in laboratory. Questions, going far beyond pure taxonomical descriptions, such as details of distribution, habitat and ecological requirements of newly discovered species, have been investigated on the left:

Olepa schleini Witt et al.,2005, a species of Arctiidae, reported to the date only for Israel and mentioned already in Holy Script, which has been rediscovered and described on the course of the project. More species of genusOlepa can be found in Ceylon, India and Nepal.

This work inevitably brought to the light an old question on the inventory of the fauna of Israel. Müller has not been satisfied with what has been done. From some early stages he spread his activity on the entire area of the Near East. In last years, he has organized numerous expeditions to the lepidopterologically poor-studied regions of the Middle East. Objectives of these trips were chosen according to the peculiarities of plant distribution and geographical landscape. Light trapping stations, established there and working all the year around, brought extremely valuable information on the species’ spectrum, their flying activity and density. These series, merely represented for the first time by so many specimens, allowed defining limits of variation of many species, questionable and poor separated from each other. Some species, such as, for example, those from genera Lasiocampa and Chondrostega, belonging to the family Lemoniidae and Lasiocampidae, and previously known from only a few species, are now available in series of hundreds of specimens, making possible their taxonomic revision. This research activity, which extends beyond Israel, through Jordan, Iraq, adjacent areas of Saudi Arabia, through Sinai Peninsula and Egypt up to the border of Sudan on the south, is not yet completed.

Since the very beginning of this cooperation, silk moths „Bombyces und Sphinges“ have been prepared, labeled, upon the necessity “genitalized” and catalogued by team of preparators in the WITT Museum. This was followed by the study of corresponding scientists. The material resides in the collection of WITT Museum and in the University of Tel Aviv. Publications of results follow the planned research activity “Fauna of Israel” and form the bulk for third and fourth volume of 7-volume book-series „The Lepidoptera of Israel“. This series should cover all the Near East.

Series: "The Lepidoptera of Israel".


This is a series of books in 7 volumes, covering more than 1,000 species of Macrolepidoptera of Israel, with complete and up-to-date information concerning their taxonomy, distribution, habitat preferences, seasonal activity and host-plant interactions. This series, the first of its kind in the entire Near East, is aimed to fill in a significant gap in our knowledge of the butterflies and moths of this still poorly studied region.

KRAVCHENKO, V.D. & M. FIBIGER & A. HAUSMANN & G.C. MÜLLER-2007. Volume I: Erebidae
KRAVCHENKO, V.D. & M. FIBIGER & A. HAUSMANN & G.C. MÜLLER-2007. Volume II: Noctuidae