The insects of Papua Indonesia

Taxonomic and faunistic overviews on the insect species living in Papua and West-Papua (Indonesian New Guinea)

thumbnail galleries SUGAPA digital

The Papua Insects Foundation

about us:

Gerrit Withaar (1940-2022)




At the age of 81 Gerrit Withaar passed away on January 28, 2022. He was one of the founders of the Papua Insects Foundation in 2006 and until 2020 he was the treasurer in the board of the foundation. Gerrit was a true nature lover, adventurer, passionate Cerambycidae (Coleoptera, longhorn beetles) researcher and a good teacher for our friends and students in Papua, but above all he was a cheerful, friendly and true friend of all people involved with our foundation. Gerrit published since 2006 thirteen scientific papers in which he described 61 new longhorn beetles and two new genera, mainly from New Guinea, but also from other islands in the Indonesian Archipelago. The love for his family he never hided proved by the new beetles he named after each member of his family: Tmsesisternus ubelsae (to his wife), T. carlae, T. ellenae, T. ingeae and T. nielsius (to his children). Gerrit suffered for a long time from cancer and in that time he even honoured his three medical specialists with naming three beetle taxa, including a new genus: Roodenburgia schepmani and R. witjesi. On the other hand Gerrit has been honoured by Cees Gielis in 2009 with a plume moth named Alucita withaari (Alucitidae) and by Rob de Vos in 2013 with a tiger moth named Spilosoma withaari (Erebidae, Arctiinae). We will always remember our good friend and colleague and miss him so much already! May he rest in peace!











We need your help to preserve the Lepidoptera collection of Papua!

Fund raising for the Digitalization Project of the Lepidoptera Collection KSP in Papua, Indonesia

Koleksi Serangga Papua (KSP) is a large butterfly and moth collection build up by the late Br. Henk van Mastrigt. The collection is under supervision of the Kelompok Entomologi Papua (KEP) and property of the Universitas Cenderawasih (UNCEN) in Waena, Papua. With more than 75,000 specimens, all from Papua and West Papua, the collection is the only testimony of the Lepidoptera fauna in Papua, now endangered by deforestation and cultivation. Our goal is to open this collection for scientists and students to study and to ensure its preservation.

The KSP comprises many type specimens and other unique specimens, some even from species still undescribed by science. The collection is the most crucial tool scientists have to chart biodiversity, monitor populations and help designing protection policies. Despite its scientific importance, it remains very difficult to reach for many scientists and students worldwide. To make it accessible, The Papua Insects Foundation (PIF) aims to start a digitization project based on UNCEN. Digitized information and photographs will be put on line with open access (some exceptions for undescribed species in progress of publication).

The Dutch Uyttenboogaart-Eliasen Foundation will finance the much needed material to photograph and register the specimens, but we still need money to finance the workforce and to guarantee continuity of the project. Please help us with making this project a success and donate whatever you can contribute.
We already received € 3000 to start the project but to continue the project we need more.

You will be informed of our progress at all times and your contribution will be mentioned in publications related to this project.

You can send your contribution to ING Bank with IBAN number NL10INGB0673660087, BIC code INGBNL2A, Papua Insects Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with notification of “KSP Photo Project”.

You can also pay by PayPal using code:

For more information, please contact chairman Rob de Vos.

On behalf of the members of KEP and biology students of UNCEN and PIF,
Thank you very much for your help!


The latest volume of SUGAPA digital

SUGAPA digital 15(1) is online:


SUGAPA digital 15(1) (2023) contains the following publications:

- Anne M. Overduin-De Vries & Willemijn M. van Dijk - Naturalis Biodiversity Center visits MZB and UNCEN in Indonesia

- Rob de Vos & Alberto Zilli - The “plain underwing” Lambula species from New Guinea with ten new species (Lepidoptera: Erebidae, Arctiinae, Lithosiini)

- Stefan Schröder - A review of the genus Jamides Hübner, 1819 in Western New Guinea, Indonesia (West Papua and Papua) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae)








Join the "Friends of The Papua Insects foundation"

The board of the PIF is very pleased to announce the birth of the group “Friends of the Papua Insects Foundation”. This is a special group for those willing to support the work of the Papua Insects Foundation and in particular, the journal Suara Serangga Papua (SUGAPA), “the Voice of Papua Insects”.
SUGAPA is a journal devoted to the insect fauna of Indonesian New Guinea (provinces Papua and Papua Barat). The journal includes news, observations, description of new species, taxonomic revisions and results from fieldwork. From 2006 and until 2016, SUGAPA appeared twice annually, in print, under the direction of Kelompok Entomologi Papua (KEP). Brother Henk van Mastrigt was the chief editor of SUGAPA. The journal was financed by a few supporting foundations, companies and subscribers. After Henk’s passing in August 2015, the publication of SUGAPA ended because it was impossible to find a successor for him in a short time.

PIF recognizes the importance of this journal, both for the local biology students and for the broader entomological community. For this reason, we created in 2016 a new SUGAPA series, now online. Together with KEP, we formed a new editorial board. The first online volume was published in July 2016. The new SUGAPA digital is free and allows open online access to its articles. New issues are freely accessible from the website, while digital versions of the articles published in print before 2016 are now made available too.

The new SUGAPA digital, with all its advantages, needs financial support. Not only for the costs of the website domain, but also to guarantee its scientific status. Online taxonomic publications need to be registered in ZooBank, the Official Registry of Zoological Nomenclature. ZooBank registers new nomenclatural acts, published works, and authors to ensure the validity and stability of zoological names. This action is free of costs, however, each register of digital publications (DOI) requires payment. As PIF is a non-profit organisation, external financial support is very necessary and warmly welcome. For this reason, the board of the Papua Insects Foundation has created the “Friends of the Papua Insects Foundation”. You are cordially invited to join us!

You can become a “Friend of the Papua Insects Foundation” by donating annually the amount of (at least) €20.
Your donation is greatly appreciated and will be used to ensure the continuation of SUGAPA digital, the platform for future entomological research for PIF and for local biology students.

As a Friend of PIF, you will enjoy privileges:
- your “friendship” will be mentioned on the website (unless you indicate you don’t want to)
- being first informed about the release of a new issue of SUGAPA digital
- first-hand information regarding the ongoing fieldwork
- you will be first to receive the new newsletters on the activities of PIF and KEP
- you will get discount on publications made by KEP and PIF (i.e. the Kupu-Kupu series)
- you are entitled to have a VIP visit to an annual meeting on Papua insects which will be held in Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands (more details about this will follow)

- there will be a possibility to have your name monumentalized by the description of a new Papuan insect species. For details about this you can contact us

Register your “Friend of Papua Insects Foundation” by email to our secretary and transfer your donation under the specification “Friend of PIF” to:
Papua Insects Foundation
IBAN NL 10 INGB 0673660087
The Netherlands

You can also pay by PayPal using code:

For Dutch “Friends of Papua Insects Foundation” it may be interesting to know that the Papua Insects Foundation is an ANBI institution (tax nr. 8158.33.039), which means that your donation may be included in tax deductions every year at a rate of 1.25 times your donation (so € 20 is deductible for € 25)!





The Papua Insects Foundation is sponsored and supported by:

The ideals of the Papua Insects Foundation are supported by Conservation International

The entomological magazine SUGAPA is sponsored by The Van Tienhoven Foundation

Have a look at this interesting website with lots of magnificent pictures. The Association des Lépidoptéristes de France (ALF) recently payed a visit to the Arfak Mountains, the Baliem Valley and Biak. Members of the ALF made a lot of nice pictures of insects of which we have permission to show them also in our website.

The World Wildlife Fund and the Dutch "Nationale Postcode Loterij" sponsored the new field guide to the butterflies of the Birdshead Peninsula

Vermandel entomology supplies ( sponsored the fieldwork of the Papua Insects Foundation

John H. Otten, coordinator POCT (part of the Dutch Society for Bio-Medical Laboratorium personel NVML Utrecht) donated eight stereo binoculars to us for the Papua biology students

The magazine SUGAPA 2013-2014 and the third fieldguide on butterflies (of the islands in the Cenderawasih Bay) are sponsored by Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI)



For all your tour arrangements in and around Manokwari, the Arfak Mountains and Papua Barat
An English, Dutch and Bahasa Indonesia spoken experienced guide

Contact Yoris R. Wanggai
mobile phone: 081248092764 (in Indonesia)




Introduction about this website

The need for information about fauna and flora has increased since people are aware that nature is changing very rapidly in the last decades. Polution, global warming and destruction of natural environment are the topics of the world these days.

Scientists research the causes and effects of changes in climate and biodiversity. One of the essential tools for this kind of research is information about the occurrance (faunistics) of plant and animal species in certain areas. For this it is extremely important to have accurate information, checklists of correctly identificated species and when available ecological information. Especially on tropical insects this kind of information is hard to find or it takes loads of time and effort to gather the literature provided. For some it may even be impossible to consult the necessary literature or to visit relevant museum collections. In many cases it may even be necessary to undertake new expeditions to poorly visited or even unexplored areas.

collecting at light in Borme, Star Mountains (Papua, Indonesia) (Photo: Henk van Mastrigt)


As part of the Papua Insects Foundation, the aim of this website is to provide organisations, scientist, students, museums and everyone interested, with actual information on the taxonomics and faunistics of the insect fauna of Papua. This includes checklists with the latest nomenclatorial views, pictures of the species, distribution maps (compiled from information as far as known from literature and collections) and a list with relevant literature. If available we will also give information and photographs of the types.

Very important is to distinguish so called biodiversity hotspots, places or areas where the entomological fauna is of a very high richness and is therefore of great importance to nature conservation. In order to actually recognize these hotspots it is necessary to inventorise the insect fauna and have knowledge about the existance and identity of the species. The Papua Insect Foundation can be of help in this matter.

However, information of some insects orders or families may not always be complete, due to uncertainties or simply because no (recent) work on these taxa is done yet. On the other hand, the taxa which are represented in detail on this website are recently thoroughly revised or studied and the information given is scientifically certified or at least expected to be so. The contributors to this website themselves are scientists or are in contact with specialists all over the world.



On survey in primary forest near Warkapi (Arfak Mountains)

(Photo: Siep Sinnema, 2011)




Why Papua only?

New Guinea is the second largest island in the world (Greenland is the largest). It is also one of the richest islands for what biodiversity is concerned. Its tropical climate and fortunately still largely (70%) with forest covered surface gives animals and plants the opportunity to flourish in an almost unlimited way. Its biogeographic history is very complex and resulted in strange habitats from an even stranger origin. Its floral and faunal character is much different of that of adjacent areas in the region. For instance, in the west the Moluccas may have an overlap of species with New Guinea, but for the greater part it differs significantly and forms the border between the Sundanian and Wallacian regions on one side and the Australian faunal regions on the other side. In the south and southeast the faunal characters are similar in Queensland (Australia), the Solomon Islands and Fiji, but New Guinea inhabits loads of endemic fauna elements. There have been many natural historic expeditions in New Guinea but most of them were in the eastern part, at present Papua New Guinea. The majority of faunistic information from New Guinea consequently deals with this area. Because of the fact that the western part, Papua (Indonesia), is underexplored and because the geological history of this area for a greater part differs from the eastern area, which also resulted in different flora and thus fauna, it is about time that this interesting part of New Guinea is mapped. Of course, there is already information about the western part of New Guinea available, but it is scattered in literature and hidden in (museum) collections. It is one of our jobs to collect these data and to make this information available to the public.


In the 19th and early 20th century the island of New Guinea was colonized by three nations: the Dutch in the west (Dutch New Guinea), the Germans in the northeast (Kaiser Wilhelms Land) and the British in the southeast (British New Guinea). At 1848 the border of Dutch New Guinea is layed down at 141º Eastern Length by the government of the Dutch Indies. It was officially determined in 1895 and is until present day the unchanged border of Papua with Papua New Guinea. In 1963 the area was handed over to UNTEA and finally to the Republic of Indonesia and was called Irian Barat (West Irian), from 1973 Irian Jaya (= "Ikut Republik Indonesia, Anti Nederland", which means "Follow the Republik Indonesia, reject The Netherlands", "Jaya" means "glorious") and from October 2001 Papua (or Papua Indonesia, to avoid confusion). In 2003 there was an attemption to divide Papua in three subprovinces (Papua Barat, Papua Tengah and Papua Timur) but because of many protests it was decided to divide Papua in 2007 in only two main provinces: Papua Barat (West Papua) and Papua. In this website we only use the name Papua or Papua Indonesia, meaning both provinces together. The border of both provinces is West of Nabire and East of Wandammen Peninsula.

Because in the 19th and early 20th century most naturalists were either German or British it is obvious that the colonies in the east of New Guinea were visited more frequently by scientists than the Dutch western part of the island. Furthermore Dutch scientists hardly showed any interest in this part of their colony. After Dutch New Guinea was handed over to UNTEA and Indonesia in 1963, hardly any expedition or collection trip was held in this part until the Eighties of the last century. Nevertheless, their have been some important expeditions in the western part. An overview of these expeditions is given on the history page of this website.

Published information about insects of New Guinea is mostly restricted to the eastern side of this large island, Papua New Guinea (PNG). A magnifiscent piece of work is done by Michael Parsons in "The Butterflies of Papua New Guinea" (1999) about the butterflies of New Guinea, with PNG in particular. For moths such a comprehensive work does not exist, let alone about other insect orders, although there are many publications scattered in various scientific magazines. One of the aims of The Papua Insect Foundation is to gather all this information and to make it available, for instance on this website.

No comprehensive overview on the insect fauna of Papua exist yet. But recently, Henk van Mastrigt (2005) published a guide of the butterflies of the northeastern part of Papua Indonesia: Kupu-kupu ("butterflies") and another in 2010 on the butterflies of Papua Barat, the Birdshead Peninsula. It may be the start of a series on this more or less "forgotten" part of New Guinea.


Additional information

If you are interested in more detailed information than presented here, please do not hesitate to contact us.
If you have additional information about some taxa, please let us know or join us and contribute to this website. A list of participating specialists is given in contributors.

You will find a list of the collections and museums from which information and photographs are obtained and used for this website with their permission.


Last update on 10th March 2022