Israel, one of the most densely populated countries on Earth, turns out to have been harboring an unknown species of butterfly.
Vladimir Lukhtanov, entomologist and evolutionary biologist at the Zoological Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia, made a startling discovery.
This new species is named Acentria’s fritillary (Melitaea acentria) and was found flying right over the slopes of the popular Mount Hermon ski resort in northern Israel. It is described in the open access journal Comparative Cytogenetics.
In 2012, Vladimir Lukhtanov, together with his students, initiated an exhaustive study of Israeli butterflies using an array of modern and traditional research techniques.
In 2013, Asya Novikova sampled a few fritillaries from Mt. Hermon.
This is the first new butterfly species discovered and described from the territory of Israel in 109 years.