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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Lubbock   15 March 1859

Mansion House Street, | London| E.C.

15 March 1859

My dear Mr. Darwin

I find that I shall not be able to get a holiday till Saturday when I shall hope to see you unless I hear from you to the contrary.

As far as I know Kollikers paper on Chironomus1 & Leuckart’s on Melophagus2 are the only accounts we have of the embryology of the Diptera and in both these the embryo commences as an apod grub. The same is the case in Aphis and indeed it seems that while in the Crustacea the appendages appear rather before the segments, the reverse is the rule in Insects. Melophagus was supposed to be Pupiparous but Leuckart considers that the offspring is a larva. The case of Aphis is almost the same as that of the Orthoptera.3

My own feeling is that all Insects go through metamorphoses but that in some of them a part are passed before birth. Is not the so called larva of Orthoptera homologous (if I may use the expression) with the Pupa state of some other insects; and does not the grub of flies &c represent a stage which in many insects is passed in ovo. The metamorphoses of Meloe Sitaris &c shew I think that the changes of insects are not so uniform as they are generally considered to be. 4

Hoping you are pretty well I remain | Your affecate | J Lubbock

P.S. I am not quite sure if I have rightly understood the drift of your question, if not please write again | JL

CD annotations

triple scored pencil
Top of first page: ‘Ch 12’brown crayon, circled brown crayon; ‘I positively must strike out all about L. Dufour’5 pencil


Kölliker 1843.
See following letter.
Beetles belonging to the genera Meloe and Sitaris have extremely complicated life-cycles, involving four or five larval stages.


Leuckart, Rudolf. 1858. Die Fortpflanzung und Entwickelung der Pupiparen nach Beobachtungen an Melophagus ovinus. Abhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft zu Halle 4: 145–226.


Embryology of Diptera. Development of insects; metamorphosis. JL feels all insects go through metamorphosis but that in some of them, part takes place before birth.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Mansion House St
Source of text
DAR 170: 22
Physical description
ALS 2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2433,” accessed on 16 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7