The Great Moth Caterpillar-hunt Challenge

The Great Moth Caterpillar-hunt Challenge
Hermann & Doug VS Rest of South Africa

You are invited to participate in the greatest South African Lepidoptera challenge ever.

Great Prizes to be won.

Contribute to the upcoming Moths of South Africa- a field guide book.
Explore the wonderful world of Moths and their caterpillars.
Perhaps discover something new to science.


•The ADU/Lepsoc Lepidoptera Virtual Museum and iSpot hosts images of hundreds of yet unidentified moth caterpillars submitted by the public.
Almost all were never reared to adulthood - so they probably will remain unidentified.
•Less than 10% of South Africa's moth caterpillars are known to science.
• We would like to include images of as many caterpillars as we can in the Moths of South Africa- a field guide book, for which we are currently preparing the manuscript. We are rearing as many as we can ourselves but we realize we need your help.

• Here's the challenge: We are challenging you, the rest of South Africa (as team SA), to find, photograph and rear to adulthood (from caterpillar to moth) more species of South African moths in the upcoming season than what the two of us can (conditions apply).
•If you (team SA)win, the contributing person who scored the most points will receive a R20 000.00 cash prize. The second prize winner will receive free accommodation and transport for two for a week to the Garden Route.
•If you (team SA) lose, the cash prize will go to the Brenton Blue Trust for Lepidoptera conservation. The second prize will then go to the person who scored the most points.

Contact Details:
Hermann Staude [email protected]
082 6519004
Doug Kroon [email protected]
082 3343001


• Indicate your willingness to participate and willingness to abide by the rules of the challenge by simply sending a mail to that effect to Hermann.

• Participation means that you give us permission to use your submitted images and data for the Moths of South Africa- a field guide manuscript if we choose to do so. All contributions will be acknowledged in the book.

•We intend to collate and submit to Metamorphosis a paper containing all the information new to science resulting from this challenge. Participation means that you are willing to contribute your submitted data.

• The challenge will run from October 2012 till one week before the next Lepsoc conference in September 2013.

• The winner will be announced at the Lepsoc conference 2013.

• Submissions must have at least the following to be eligible: A usable image of the final instar larva; A clearly identifiable image of the resultant adult or preferably a voucher specimen of the adult; A clearly identifiable image of the host-plant or preferably a preserved herbarium specimen.

• Only South African moths (no butterflies) are eligible. If the larvae were found outside of South Africa and the species is confirmed to occur in South Africa, then it will also be eligible.

• You are allowed to submit records that you may have bred in the past provided that these are unpublished and that all other conditions are met.

• Points will be awarded as follows: Images of the full life history of all the early stages recorded for the first time for a species, 20 points; New final instar & pupa and new host plant for the first time for a species, 10 points; Final instar & pupa and new host plant, 8 points; New final instar & pupa, 6 points; Final instar & pupa we do not yet have for the book, 5 points; final instar & pupa we already have or which has already been submitted, 1 point.

• Regular updates will be given to participants during the season via e-mail and other media.

• A workshop/s will be held on how to rear moth caterpillars to adults.

• New rules and conditions may be added if issues not mentioned here emerge.



Some stats so far (Jan 2013):

237 - Number of caterpillar images positively linked to adults we had available prior to the challenge

106 Number of caterpillar images positively linked to adults added through the challenge: (54 by team SA and 52 by team H&D)

343 New total to date

New to science derived from the challenge -

2 new species;
25 species reared for the first time;
43 new host-plant associations.

Hermann Staude

Please tag all rearings ...

Please code all iSpot observations of reared insects with the tag: "Reared from larval stage"

To see these click here:

Updates & new look

On behalf of Hermann, I detail the results below:

Players: 27
Submissions: 874

Species: 559 (~6% of SA moth fauna)
Families: 32
NEW host plant associations: 343

Taxa NEW to science: 82
Taxa NEW to database: 267 (including 161 not ID'd to species)
Taxa NEW to database AND with NEW host plant associations: 76
NEW host plants: 185
Taxa submitted that were in historical database: 187

FAMILIES (no. of submissions)

Please note: there have been many changes in the taxonomy recently, and some of the families are now subfamilies of Erebidae

Geometridae    257
Erebidae       106
Saturniidae    90
Noctuidae       74
Sphingidae      62
Lasiocampidae  40
Crambidae      38
Tortricidae    32
Gelechiidae    29
Nolidae        28
Pyralidae      21
Notodontidae   20
Limacodidae    13
Eupterotidae   10
Gracillariidae 8

Pterophoridae, Bombycidae, Unknown 5
Ethmiidae, Yponomeutidae, Plutellidae, Thyrididae 3
Oecophoridae, Tineidae, Zygaemidae, Uraniidae, Hyblaeidae, Psychidae 2
Cossidae, Choreutidae, Bramaeidae 1

Taxon with most submissions (20) - Helicoverpa armigera American Bollworm with 18 host plants

Caterpillar Rearing Group (CRG)
by Hermann Staude

The Caterpillar challenge has now evolved into a formal caterpillar rearing group called CRG. Two of our most active caterpillar rearers, Silvia Mecenero and Allison Sharp, are doing the public interface and have started a facebook page I am very happy that they are taking the time to do this most important public interface as it frees me to stay in the background and do the science. People are encouraged to submit their results by e-mail to me and I then include all submissions in a master catalogue showing the caterpillars and their adults together with the relevant host-plant associations etc. This catalogue will be published on-line annually through a peer review process making the information therein available in such a way that it can be safely absorbed by the scientific community. This allows for contributors to be properly recognised for their work and such very important information does not get lost in cyberspace.

[The rearing group now includes butterflies as well :-)]

I would really encourage you to submit the images and data you have gathered from rearing experiments to me via e-mail. To date we have received over 1100 submissions of successful caterpillar rearings comprising 686 species, 202 of them reared for the first time. Once you have provided one submission you gain access to the master catalogues on dropbox where you can see all submissions, which is already proving to be very useful for identifying caterpillars and their adults.

many thanks!

How can we make iSpot the place to host these data??

Ask Hermann!!

And I will ask him too.

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