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  • Entomology collection (insects & arachnids)

Entomology collection (insects & arachnids)

The collection contains about 3 million pinned insects as well as numerous ethanol-preserved and slide-mounted specimens and various other insect-related specimens, such as galls and nests. The insect collection focuses mainly on the fauna of Israel and adjacent areas. However, it also contains vast collections from all parts of the world, particularly from tropical Africa. All 26 insect orders known from Israel are represented in this collection, which is by far the largest and best maintained of all such collections in Israel and the Middle East.

The insect collection at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History was established around 1960 by the late Prof. Joshua Kugler, who served as its curator until 1980, when Dr. Amnon Freidberg replaced him. In 2012 Dr. Freidberg was succeeded by Dr. Netta Dorchin, who is the current chief curator of entomology at the museum. For about 15 years the collection had been kept on the Tel Aviv University campus in Abu-Kabir in southern Tel Aviv, before it was transferred in 1974 to the Ramat Aviv campus.

In recent decades a collection of live insects is also maintained by the entomology staff. As in other collections in the Steinhardt Museum, the insect collection focuses mainly on the fauna of Israel and adjacent areas. However, it also contains vast collections from all parts of the world, particularly from tropical Africa. All 26 insect orders known from Israel are represented in this collection, which is by far the largest and best maintained of all such collections in Israel and the Middle East. In addition, almost all families, genera and species known from the country, including approximately 1,000–2,000 undescribed species, are represented. The collection contains thousands of type specimens, including hundreds of primary types. Several insect species now considered extinct in Israel are also represented in the collection, some of which are probably unique to it. So far only a small portion of the collection has been databased and ongoing efforts are made to digitize all newly collected material as well as older material, but this is a slow process that will take many years to complete.

The pinned collection is housed on the second floor of the Steinhardt Museum, mostly in standardized drawers and cabinets, whereas the ‘wet collection’ is stored on the third floor. Large parts of the collection were donated or acquired over the years from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Rehovot and from various public and private holdings, and these have been or are in the process of being integrated into the general collection. The collection grows continuously, either through additions made by its staff during routine and special field trips and research projects in Israel and abroad, or through donations from organizations and individuals.

The entomology collection is maintained by 19 curators, associate curators and collection managers, almost all of whom hold graduate degrees (MSc or PhD) in entomology or zoology, and the staff includes also volunteers, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students. Each curator and collection manager is responsible for curating a particular group, and many of them conduct active research on these groups. The material is sorted to the most accurate level based on our in-house expertise and sent to external experts for further classification when needed and possible. Dozens of scientists from Israel and abroad visit the collection each year and use our material for their research.

Hundreds of publications have been based on the Steinhardt Museum insect collection and numerous articles are added by our staff, collaborators and visiting scientists every year. The main activities focus on collecting, preserving and studying the East Mediterranean fauna in order to record and understand the regional biodiversity. Other major activities include the provision of identification services to various organizations and individuals, in particular the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Israel, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Hama’arag, as well as support for graduate student research.

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Diptera

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Hymenoptera

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Coleoptera (beetles)

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Lepidoptera

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Neuroptera

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Hemiptera

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Orthoptera

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Blattodea

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Mantodea

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Aquatic orders

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Small orders

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Arachnida

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Staff members

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