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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Horace Darwin   9 and 12 September 1880


Sep 9th. 1880


Macugnaga is 5115 ft. above the sea.1 It rained heavily last night. I found one small worm casting near here in an open place in a larch wood. Higher up the valley, 300 ft. I should say above this, I found several small castings. The castings are evidently made by a very small worm, & were very small. I saw the tail of one of them. The hole through which the castings are made must have been about the size of a pin. I only saw one fresh casting, & altogether I found very few. Old ones are difficult to recognise, as they are very powdery.

Baveno Sep. 12th.

For the first two hours of our way down here from Macugnaga I looked out for worms but saw none.

The fields & grass about Zermatt and Macugnagna so far as I have seen, have not that peculiar hummocky appearance, which is seen at home in fields which are habitually grazed by sheep.2


Macugnaga is a mountain village in northern Italy at the base of Monte Rosa.
Baveno is a town in northern Italy on the western shore of Lake Maggiore. For Horace’s observations from Zermatt, a town in the Swiss Alps at the foot of the Matterhorn, see the letter from Horace Darwin, 4 September 1880.


Reports evidence of earthworm activity.

Letter details

Letter no.
Horace Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Macugnaga and Baveno
Source of text
DAR 64.1: 36–7
Physical description
Amem 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12709,” accessed on 8 June 2023,