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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Raphael Meldola   23 May 1878

21 John St. | Bedford Row, | London W.C.

May 23/78

My dear Mr. Darwin,

Some time before I received your last post-card I had sent the photographs of Dr. Zacharias’ insects to my friend Prof. Wood-Mason who has been making a special study of the Orthoptera of late & he has returned them to me with a letter confirming the generic name (Pterochroza) I sent to you.1

No. 1, of which I could not find a specimen in the B.M., is probably P. ocellata Serville.2

À propos of the little beetles which came out of Fritz Müller’s seeds of Cassia neglecta a friend of mine showed me some time ago some small seeds from Brazil which when first sent over possessed the remarkable property of jumping about—particularly when held in the hand or otherwise exposed to a slight elevation of temperature. After a time the seeds lost this property & on opening one a small dead larva (Coleopterous?) was found inside. This leads me to ask whether the insects which emerged from F. M.’s seeds may not be related to the above. Could you spare me one or two of the perforated seeds if you still possess them to exhibit at the Entom. Soc. with their beetles & cocoons?3

I propose to work up F. M’s observations into a paper for our next meeting entitled “Notes on Brazilian Entomology”.4

Yours sincerely, | R. Meldola.

Were the living beetles & the cocoons found in the box or packet containing the seeds?

CD annotations

3.7 Could ... cocoons? 3.9] double scored ink


Meldola sent CD a postcard (now missing) with the names of insects, photographs of which had been sent to CD by Otto Zacharias; CD, in his reply of 20 May [1878], told Meldola he need not pursue the matter further. James Wood-Mason was deputy superintendent of the Indian Museum at Calcutta. Pterochroza is a genus of leaf-mimic katydids in the family Tettigoniidae (katydids and long-horned grasshoppers).
Pterochroza ocellata is the peacock katydid; it has large eye-spots on its normally hidden hindwings.
See letter to Fritz Müller, 16 May 1878 and n. 3. Cassia neglecta is a synonym of Senna neglecta. Meldola exhibited the beetles and cocoons at the Entomological Society of London on 5 June 1878 (Transactions of the Entomological Society of London (Proceedings) (1878): xxiv).
Müller’s ‘Notes on Brazilian entomology’ was read by Meldola at the 5 June meeting of the Entomological Society of London and published in the society’s Transactions (F. Müller 1878).


Prof. Wood-Mason has examined Otto Zacharias’ insect photographs and confirmed the genera.

RM is going to work up Fritz Müller’s observations into a paper.

Letter details

Letter no.
Raphael Meldola
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, John St, 21
Source of text
DAR 171: 128
Physical description
ALS 2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11524,” accessed on 21 March 2023,