Welcome to HOSTS
Records of caterpillar hostplants are scattered through published and manuscript sources worldwide and are difficult to retrieve. Many rearing records are never published and so are not accessible to other entomologists. But collected hostplant records form a valuable scientific resource that can be used eventually to answer broader biological questions about how Lepidoptera and plants interact (eg, Letourneau, Hagen & Robinson, 2001). It provides information of immediate relevance to agriculture, ecology, forestry, conservation and taxonomy.
HOSTS brings together an enormous body of information on what the world's butterfly and moth (Lepidoptera) caterpillars eat. The web-based version presented here offers a synoptic data set drawn from about 180,000 records comprising taxonomically 'cleaned' hostplant data for about 22,000 Lepidoptera species drawn from about 1600 published and manuscript sources. It is not (and cannot be) exhaustive, but it is probably the best and most comprehensive compilation of hostplant data available.
We hope that it will be useful to a wide range of biologists and that it will act as a spur to further recording and analysis of caterpillar-plant interactions.