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Masayo Kato Insect Collection. Part II. Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera



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Dr Masayo Kato was a remarkable entomologist who was active from the Taisho to the early Showa era (the 1920s-1960s). He opened a private museum “Cicadidae Museum” on his estate bordering the park in Shakujii-koen, Tokyo, in which he used to enhance entomological educational activities through exhibitions of insect specimens. His devotion inspired all generations, causing a surge in the popularity of entomology through insect collecting. As a result, he is also known as a key person in creating “the golden age of insects”, a social phenomenon in the early Showa era. In particular, he had a detailed knowledge of cicadas and treehoppers; he not only originally described many new taxa of the two groups, but also revealed a lot of their previously unknown ecology. Accordingly, he was familiar to many people under the nickname of “Semi Hakase (Doctor of cicadas)”.

Dr Kato was born on April 19, 1898 in Kitatakane-mura, Tochigi as the third son of Mikizane Kato (original family name: Minuma) who was a pupil of Sen Tsuda, a famous agronomist. After graduating from Kogyokusha Junior High School, Tokyo in 1916, he started a job as a reporter for “Nihon-hiko-kai”. In 1920, while still working there, he became a trainee pilot of a flight institute “Ito-Hikoki-Kenkyujyo” in Tsudanuma, Chiba. In 1922, he got married to Hideko Takada who was also a trainee pilot, soon after acquiring his third-class pilot’s license. In 1923, they moved to Taiwan to research and collect insects. However, he had to work as a research assistant under Dr Tokuichi Shiraki at the Department of Agriculture, Government Research Institute, Formosa, because his financial support was lost due to the Great Kanto earthquake. As a result of his experience, the base of his entomological knowledge was laid.

After returning from Taiwan in 1928, Kato lived in Kinugasa, Kyoto. Subsequently, he moved to Setagaya, Tokyo in 1930, and published his first book “Shumi-no-Konchu-Saishu” (Insect Collecting as a Hobby), which became a major bestseller, going through 26 editions by 1945. The editorial supervisor of this book is Dr Yaichiro Okada in Tokyo University of Literature and Science, and Kato belonged to his laboratory as a trainee in 1930-1932. He established an association for insect enthusiasts, “Konchu-Shumi-no-Kai” (The Insect Lover’s Association) in 1932 and launched an organ for this association “Konchu-Kai” (The Entomological World) in 1933. The organ ran for 172 issues before its closure in 1962 and provided a gateway for young entomologists and amateur researchers. In addition, two major books, “Monograph of Cicadidae” and “Three Colour Illustrated Insects of Japan. Fasc. I”, were also published in 1933.

He moved to Shakujii-koen, close to its park, Tokyo in 1935, and established “The Kato Entomological Laboratory” at his home. In 1938, he opened an insect museum “Cicadidae Museum” located on his estate next to his house, and exhibited many insect specimens collected primarily by himself. Later in life he was involved in entomological educational activities. From 1940, he taught at the Sugamo Commercial School and the Fujimi Junior and Senior High School. Due to his dedication to science education at that time, he also held prominent positions such as a director of the Japan Association of Biology Education, a director of The Society of Biological Sciences Education of Japan, and an executive member of The Biology Teacher's Association of Tokyo.

In 1956, Kato published a major specialized book “The Biology of the Cicadas”, which became his PhD dissertation, accepted by Hokkaido University in 1958. In recognition of his years of efforts to entomology, he eventually received the “Medal with Blue Ribbon” from the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan. Finally, he died from stomach cancer at the age of 69 on November 7, 1967, and his ashes were placed in the Fuji Cemetery, Shizuoka.

After death of Dr Kato, his vast collection was moved to his family’s privately-owned museum, the Masayo Kato Memorial Insect Museum in Chino City, Nagano, where it remained for a long time. The donation of his collection to the University Museum, The University of Tokyo was implemented according to the wishes of his fifth daughter, Mrs. Sonoko Suzuki, in November, 2010. Since then, his collection has been carefully stored, often contributing to many research projects and exhibitions.

The Kato collection contains not only Hemiptera but also most other insect orders, as well as other animals, plants and fungi, consisting of approximately 60,000 specimens primarily from Japan and Taiwan. Moreover, Dr Kato originally described approximately 400 new taxa (including new genera, new species, new subspecies, new aberrant forms and new forms), and there are almost the same number of holotypes in the collection. Although most of the new taxa are Homoptera such as cicadas and grasshoppers, some are Lepidoptera composed of butterflies and moths. According to Hashimoto et al. (1981), new butterflies that Dr Kato described are as follows:

  • Papilionidae
    • Papilio sarpedon intermedius Kato, 1940 [type locality: Hachijo-jima Is.]
    • Papilio sarpedon hachijo-insulanus Kato, 1943 (pro intermedius Kato, 1940)
    • Papilio sarpedon connectens f. latifasciata Kato, 1926 [type locality: Taihoku, Formosa]
    • Papilio maackii masuokai Kato, 1937 [type locality: Iwaya-ji, Ehime (Shikoku)]
    • Papilio memnon f. esaki-nakaharai Kato, 1933 [type locality: Okinawa-jima]
  • Lycaenidae
    • Arhopala ganesa formosana Kato, 1930 [type locality: Taiheizan, Formosa]
    • Aphanaeus (!) sozanensis Kato, 1934 [type locality: Sozan, Formosa]
  • Nymphalidae
    • Pyrameis cardui ab. takesakiana Kato, 1925 [type locality: Takesaki, Formosa]
    • Cyrestis thyodamas f. haru Kato, 1933 [type locality: Mt. Taiko, Takesaki, Formosa]
    • Cyrestis thyodamas f. aki Kato, 1933 [type locality: Takesaki, Formosa]
  • Hesperiidae
    • Daimio ththys var. yamashiroensis Kato, 1930 [type locality: Kibune, Kyoto]

Of these, the only scientific name that is still seen as valid is Arhopala ganesa formosana. In any case however, Dr Kato’s contribution to the taxonomy of butterflies cannot be underestimated.

In his general collection, there are many specimens from the 1930s, collected in Tokyo and its surroundings including Shakujii, which are very important in understanding the insect fauna in the Kanto Plain at that time. Moreover, there are also many specimens from Taiwan and Kyoto, where he lived in 1923-1928 and 1928-1930, respectively.

As noteworthy butterfly specimens, a representative is Fabriciana nerippe from Yoyogi (Shibuya-ku), Inogashira (Machida City) and Haramachida (Machida City), Tokyo in 1930s (Yago, 2015). The fact that the vast grasslands used by the populace for thatching and cattle grazing, existed in these areas at that time is corroborated by the butterfly specimens. Some specimens of Leptidea amurensis from Kozukue and the suburbs of Yokohama can be found in the Kato collection. Only a few records of this species have been hitherto found in Yokohama. Thus, these records in the Kato collection are valuable (Yago, 2015). Also in the collection is a male specimen of Pyrgus maculatus from Mt. Amagi, Izu, which was collected in July 1939 by Masatoshi Yago, a researcher of fruit insect pests belonging to the Shizuoka Agricultural Experiment Station. This specimen data is very likely to be the only record from Izu (Yago, 2015). These butterflies became extinct from Tokyo and the adjacent area primarily during the period of rapid economic growth after World War II.

In addition to these precious butterflies, a majority of the Taiwanese members is included in his specimen boxes, containing Agehana maraho, Papilio hoppo and Papilio thaiwanus which were quite difficult to obtain in those days. Although Danaus plexippus, Euploea phaenareta and Papilio machaon collected before World War II can be also found in the collection, the three species were not recently recorded from Taiwan. In particular, the former two are very valuable because they became extinct in Taiwan a long time ago (Yago, 2015).

The University Museum, The University of Tokyo, is currently cataloging the Masayo Kato insect collection in a free publically-accessible database. As a first step, we have compiled a list of the Hymenoptera (bees and ants), which was published in the “Material Reports” series and website of the museum in 2014 (Nagase et al., 2014). Following publication of the Hymenoptera, we have compiled a list of the butterflies (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera) in his collection (Yoshida et al., 2015), which is also here published as one of the “Material Reports” series of the museum. This catalogue of the butterflies contains 2,578 specimens arranged in 90 cabinets. The specific classification and identification of the catalogue follow mainly Shirôzu (1960, 2006), Yata et al. (2007) and Inomata et al. (2013), and also other sources of literature (D’Abrera, 1981, 1987a, 1987b; Sands, 1986; Tuzov, 1997a, 1997b; Parsons, 1998; Chou, 1999; Koiwaya, 2007).

This database not only contributes much to taxonomy, morphology and biogeography, but also provides an inventory that can be used to address biodiversity conservation issues and other environmental concerns. We hope that by publishing this database, it will make the Kato insect collection more valuable, and it will promote the importance of scientific specimens and museum collections to the wider public.


We express our deep thanks to Mrs. S. Suzuki, the fifth daughter of Dr. Kato, and Mrs. M. Suzuki, his granddaughter, for their donation of the specimens to The University Museum, The University of Tokyo. Special thanks go to Prof. Y.-F. Hsu and Mr. S. Koh for their advice on localities of several specimens. We are also deeply grateful to Neil Moffat for his critical readings of the manuscript.


  • Chou, I. (Ed.), 1999. Monographia Rhopalocerorum Sinensium (Revised Edition). Henan Scientific and Technological Publishing House, Cheng-chou.
  • D’Abrera, B., 1981. Butterflies of the Neotropical Region. Part I Papilionidae & Pieridae. Lansdowne Editions, Melbourne.
  • D’Abrera, B., 1987a. Butterflies of the Neotropical Region. Part III Brassolidae, Acraeidae & Nymphalidae (Partim). Hill House, Vitoria.
  • D’Abrera, B., 1987b. Butterflies of the Neotropical Region. Part IV Nymphalidae (Partim). Hill House, Vitoria.
  • Hashimoto, K., Hayashi, M. and Ohno, M., 1981. The Biology of the Cicadas (Reprinted edition). Supplementary volume. Scientist Press, Tokyo.
  • Inomata, T., Uémura, Y., Yago, M., Jinbo, U. and Ueda, K., 2013. Catalogue of the Insects of Japan, 7 (1). Lepidoptera (Hesperioidea-Papilionoidea). Edited by the Entomological Society of Japan. Touka Shobo, Fukuoka.
  • Koiwaya, S., 2007. The Zephyrus Hairstreaks of the World. Mushi-Sha, Tokyo.
  • Nagase, H., Harada, K., Ito, H. Ito, Y. and Yago, M., 2014. Catalogue of the Masayo Kato Insect Collection, The University Museum, The University of Tokyo. Part I. Hymenoptera. The University Museum, The University of Tokyo, Material Reports, (104): 1-189.
  • Parsons, M., 1998. The butterflies of Papua New Guinea. Their systematics and biology. Academic Press, San Diego.
  • Sands, D. P. A., 1986. A Revision of the Genus Hypochrysops C. & R. Felder (Lepidoptera: Lyaenidae). Entomonograph, 7: 1-116.
  • Shirôzu, T., 1960. Butterflies of Formosa in colour. Hoikusha, Osaka.
  • Shirôzu, T., 2006. The Butterflies of Japan in color. Gakken, Tokyo.
  • Tuzov, V. K. (Ed.), 1997a. Guide to the Butterflies of Russia and Adjacent Territories (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera). Vol. 1. Hesperiidae, Papilionidae, Pieridae, Satyridae. Pensoft, Sofia and Moscow.
  • Tuzov, V. K. (Ed.), 1997b. Guide to the Butterflies of Russia and Adjacent Territories (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera). Vol. 2. Libytheidae, Danaidae, Nymphalidae, Riodinidae, Lycaenidae. Pensoft, Sofia and Moscow.
  • Yago, M. (Ed.), 2015. Cicadidae Museum – The world of Dr. Masayo Kato, a genius creating the golden age of insects. Nerima Shakujiikoen Furusato Museum, Tokyo.
  • Yata, O., Yago, M., Yamauchi, T., Uémura, Y., Odagiri, K., Ohshima, Y., Chiba, H. and Nakatomi, K., 2007. Iconographia Insectorum Japonicorum Colore Naturali Edita, Vol. I (Butterflies and moths). Hokuryukan, Tokyo.
  • Yoshida, Y., Harada, K., Ito, H., Ito, Y. & Yago, M., 2015. Catalogue of the Masayo Kato Insect Collection, The University Museum, The University of Tokyo. Part II.  Rhopalocera, Lepidoptera. Web-Museum of The University Museum, The University of Tokyo.