Meet the Khomeini Beetle (And Other Israeli Insects - in New Pocket Guide

Meet Canthophorus melanopterus and Ammophila rubripes, a flea and a wasp, respectively - which can now be easily identified thanks to a pocket guide to dozens of common Israeli insects that will be released today.

The guide was published by Teva Israeli, a publishing house that has previously produced guides to Israeli birds, mammals, wild plants and reptiles. Like the others, this book features illustrations by Tuvia Kurtz.

The book is intended to familiarize people with the names and characteristics of various insects.

"We have a charged relationship with insects because some of them sting or bother us," said the book's scientific adviser, Dr. Dany Simon of Tel Aviv University. "But many of them are beneficial to us. They serve as biological pesticides, help to recycle organic materials and pollenate flowers. Without insects, trees like mangoes, almonds, cherries and many hothouse varieties would not survive."

Simon said 24,000 insect species have been identified in Israel, but he believes this is only half of what actually exists here.

Israel has a particularly wide variety of insects, including African species like Poekilocerus bufonius, a kind of grasshopper that releases venom when in danger, and European species like Bombus bees. The guide classifies the insects according to the danger or nuisance they may cause, so as to put unjustified fears to rest.

Some of the bugs have been given inspired Hebrew names: A large fly's popular name in Hebrew is shakhmatan, from the Hebrew word for chess, due to the black and silver spots on its abdomen. The bothersome Maladera insanabilis is known in Hebrew as the Khomeini beetle.