CATS - Caterpillars feeding on New Guinea plants- online

This database provides host plant and distribution data and images of Lepidoptera obtained during our ongoing studies of insect ecology in New Guinea. We refer to the New Guinea Binatang Research Center [ homepage ] and to [ Miller et al. (2003) ] for general background on the research programme, locations, sampling and rearing methods, collaborators, funding sources and publications.

The database includes only data generated by our research, with no reference to other published or unpublished information. It is therefore highly uneven in its geographic coverage of New Guinea, so far limited mostly to the lowlands and seacoast of the northern part of Papua New Guinea (Madang, East Sepik and Sandaun Provinces) and the highland areas around the Mt. Wilhelm (Simbu Province). [ Papua New Guinea map ]

Our studies have been limited to caterpillars feeding on slightly over 100 plant species, mostly trees and shrubs. All caterpillar - host plant combination included in the database are supported by at least five caterpillars collected feeding on the particular plant species and reared on this plant to adults in the laboratory. Note that different plant species were sampled with uneven sampling effort and no attempt has been made to standardise the data. The life history information in the database is therefore unsuitable for quantitative community and host specificity analyses; the authors could be contacted to discuss the data limitations for any specific use.

This database is the work in progress. In particular, it includes also species with no taxonomic information available so far, as well as those with only poor quality images, in the anticipation of further progress. The database will be slowly expanding to rare species (reared as less than five individuals) and herbivorous insects other than Lepidoptera. Presently, it includes approximately 700 host plant records between 550 Lepidoptera and 110 plant species, as well as 300 caterpillar and 500 adult images (note that database search performed with no information entered in any searchable field returns the complete list of species included in the database).

The database should be cited as follows, with the year updated to be current:

Miller, S. E., Darrow, K., Basset, Y., Weiblen, G. D., and Novotny, V. (2007) Caterpillars feeding on New Guinea plants - online. Published at

We hope that the database data fields and search procedures are self-explanatory, but will be happy to answer any queries.

Scott E. Miller1, Karolyn Darrow1 Yves Basset2, George D. Weiblen3 and Vojtech Novotny4*

1 National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution,
   P.O. Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012 USA,
2 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute,
   Apartado 2072, Balboa, Ancon, Panama,
3 Department of Plant Biology, University of Minnesota,
   1445 Gortner Avenue, Saint Paul 55108, USA,
4 Institute of Entomology, Czech Academy of Sciences and Faculty of Science,
   University of South Bohemia, Branisovska 31, 370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

* Correspondence: