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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. B. Leffen   7 May 1873

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

May 7 1873

Dear Sir

I write merely to thank you for your note & information, & to express a hope that you may receive benefit from your present residence. I had previously heard of the Australian caterpillars; but no one knows how they cause such severe pain.1 In Africa there is a species believed to belong to the same genus, which is so venomous that if a hand touches a surface previously touched by the caterpillar, dreadful inflammation follows over nearly the whole surface of the body.

With my thanks & hopes for your recovery I remain | dear Sir | yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin

Footnotes

Leffen’s letter has not been found. He probably wrote in response to CD’s discussion of the protective mechanisms of caterpillars in Descent 1: 416. Leffen may have written about caterpillars of cup moths (Limacodidae), which have retractable stinging spines that cause irritation, and are fairly common in Australia.

Summary

Thanks for note and information.

Mentions venomous caterpillars in Africa and Australia.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-8903
From
Charles Robert Darwin
To
J. B Leffer
Sent from
Down
Source of text
The State Library of Victoria, Melbourne (MS 6219, Box 231/3. Diary of G. F. Belcher vol. 3)
Physical description
2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8903,” accessed on 12 December 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8903

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21

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