April 2003. With the support of the Bishop Museum the Cook Islands Biodiversity Database is on the Internet. The site is still very basic, but the database is there and it works. It lists about 4000 Cook Islands species, terrestrial and marine, native and exotic, from dinoflagellates to whales. About 2000 species have images. Species within the database cannot be found by Google yet, but if you have a species name of a widespread tropical species – that is, one likely to be in the Cook Islands – then you can see if there is an image on the database. Obviously, treat all information and images with caution – compare with other data.
Two photos were sent for identification as examples of the quality of the images. The first photo (the blackish, round insect, right) belongs to the family Plataspidae. In Australia, there are two genera, Brachyplatys and Coptosoma which are distinguishable by the relative head length:width ratio. It was suggested that the image is of Brachyplatys sp. A species of Brachyplatys from the Cook Islands is on the CIBD, but the photo of this species looks quite different to the one sent. There may be other genera in the Cook Islands.
The other photo (green insect) looks like Fulgoromopha: Tropiduchidae, probably tribe Tambinini. Murray Fletcher has placed a key to Australian species of Tropiduchidae (with lots of images) at www.agric.nsw.gov.au/Hort/ascu/fulgor/tropid. This was later identified as Kallitaxila granulata, (Tropiduchidae), a native of the Philippines.
Note, the Maldives reported Brahyplatys sp. causing a problem among school children: the insects were smelly. (See post 4698 – Brachyplatys sp.)