Furnishes CD with more information on Volucella and gives him references relating to this and butterfly colourings. States that colours are not necessarily related to resting-places but rather an endowment to enable them to withstand adverse conditions.
King St. Leicester
31 Novem 1861
My Dear Sir
The following are the references which I promised.
V. bombylans (red-tipped abdomen)
V. plumata (Meigen) (= mystacea Fab) (white-tipped abdomen)
M. Macquart (Hist. Nat. des Dipt`eres Vol. 1
1834, p 494) places both together, terming V. plumata
``vari´et´e constante'' of V. bombylans. at p 479 he quotes M. de S
Zeller (Entom. Zeitung, 1842 p 65) confirms the above statement from personal observation, as to V. bomb. & V. plumata.
Erichson (Entom. Zeitung 1842 p 113) described all the known varieties of the species. They were then 7—No 1 being the true bombylans which passed gradually into plumata through V. hæmorrhoidalis (Zetterstedt) and others.
On the meaning of the colours and markings of butterflies' wings. The article on the
subject which I mentioned to you is by D
I think the whole tenour of your book teaches what I carefully insisted on in my paper that the welfare of species is the object of all structures & forms. All species exist by virtue of some endowment enabling them to withstand adverse circumstances. If an exact mimetic dress be not required to enable a species to maintain itself, the causes which tend to produce it will not operate. There are species of the same genus of similar habits & living on the same soil; one of which is of the colour of the soil and another of a completely contrasted colour. Therefore it is not a general law that a parasitic species shall mimic its victim &c &c. the mimicry is only part of the wider law above mentioned & the exceptions are proved as they ought to be by the same wider law.
The essay of Burmeister's which I mentioned as probably worth reading is called Vergangenheit & Gegenwart des Thierreichs
- f1 3336.f1The date of this letter has been given as 1 December since there are only thirty days in November.
- f2 3336.f2Bates had shown CD his collection of South American insects, which was being exhibited at the British Museum, during CD's recent visit to London (see CD note). CD's visit to the British Museum is also mentioned in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 November .
- f3 3336.f3Macquart 1834--5.
- f4 3336.f4Am´ed´ee Louis Michel Lepeletier de St Fargeau was a noted French entomologist.
- f5 3336.f5Zeller 1842.
- f6 3336.f6Erichson 1842.
- f7 3336.f7R¨ossler 1861.
- f8 3336.f8The publication details of the essay by the German naturalist Karl Hermann Konrad Burmeister have not been traced.
- f9 3336.f9It is possible that CD made some of the cover annotations several years after he received the letter, during his preparation of Descent, in which there is a chapter on sexual selection in butterflies and moths (Descent, 1: 386--417). The naturalist John Jenner Weir mentioned the brightly coloured underwings and dull upperwings of certain Lepidoptera in Weir 1869--70, p. 22. CD cited Weir's article in Descent, 1: 395 and 417.
- f10 3336.f10The note is associated with the letter in DAR 205.10 (Letters).
- f11 3336.f11CD refers to the German entomologist Wilhelm Ferdinand Erichson and to Frederick Smith, an entomologist employed in the zoological department of the British Museum.