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Darwin Correspondence Project

From H. W. Bates   30 April 1862

King St. Leicester

30 April 1862

My Dear Mr Darwin

I arrived here late on Friday night much fatigued. I wish to tell you what I learnt at the British Museum relative to the insects of South Temperate S. America & New Zealand. The Carabi of Chili & Tierra del Fuego are a remarkable case. There are 11 species known & I examined 8 of them, I have sent for a German Monograph which will tell me all about them.1 They form a subgenus Ceroglossus of Solier2 & as a group they are quite distinct from all other Carabi their nearest relationship being with S. European species. The genus Carabus is absent from Tropical America, N. Zealand, Australia & the Malay archipelago. I will not be quite sure before seeing the Monograph that none have any near resemblance with species of N. Temperate zone; I believe however there is no near affinity & therefore that no Carabus crossed the tropics during the recent Glacial epoch. It is inconceivable that these Carabi ⁠⟨⁠sh⁠⟩⁠ould have crossed & that their near allies in the North (2 or 300 species) should have undergone an entire modification amounting to subgeneric value, since the crossing, as Dr Hooker suggested.3 Could the genus have originated in Chili independently? The great genus Calosoma nearly allied to Carabus but sharply distinct is almost cosmopolitan & appears of higher antiquity than Carabus for O. Heer (über die fossile Calosomen, just out)4 finds many in tertiary strata of Europe & N. America & no⁠⟨⁠t⁠⟩⁠ a single Carabus. Could Carabi have segregated from Calosoma in the North & in the South independently? I think it highly improbable & have no doubt you think so.

What do other groups say? I was surprised at the poverty of the British Museum in Chilian Butt⁠⟨⁠erfl⁠⟩⁠ies   I thought it was rich. In your journal you mention flocks of many species off Patagonia5   I only find 3 from E. side of S. America from Buenos Ayres to Falkland islands. 46 species in all have been described. All accounts agree that Chili is poor in butterflies but still there must be more than 46 for Britain has 66. Of these 46 I found only 12 in B. M. but I referred to descriptions & was able to get a good knowledge of 13 more. These teach us much the same lesson as the Carabi with a few other things in addition. There are species very closely allied to European & Californian ones for instance a “meadow brown” Epinephile Janiroides very near our Janira. The genus or subg. Epinephile is quite unknown in tropical America but is present in California, Canada (& U.S.?) & N. Temperate zone old world, but the Chilian sp. comes nearest European sp. The genera are generally the same as N. Temperate, but the species in 6 cases form groups peculiar to Chili. In one genus the species are very closely allied to species of mountainous Tropical America. One solitary sp. is common to Chili, S. Brazil (30d S. lat.) & Venezuela & is totally absent, genus & species, from Amazon region. 2 or 3 quite tropical species exist in middle chili as local varieties.

The Cicindelidæ of which 8 are recorded confirm the above with the exception that there appears to be no species more nearly related to N. Temperate than to Tropical American sp.

The New Zealand insect fauna is wonderfully scanty   I find only 7 Butterflies & 3 Cicindelidæ recorded all of which I examined. The Cicindelæ belong to a group which occurs in New Guinea but I do not know where else. All the Butterflies but one (a comn. Australian sp.) are peculiar to the country; one forms a peculiar N. Zealand genus   The rest have a generic resemblance to those of N. Temperate zone; two of them come nearer to European species than they do to any Australian or equatorial Asian but they are of such a nature that it is inconceivable how they could be modifications of Northern species which crossed the equator so recently as during the Glacial epoch.

It would be very desirable to publish in some journal a complete analysis of the insect fauna of these S. Temperate countries; but the great deficiency of our English collections makes me afraid of undertaking it. I never felt more painfully the confused state of the B.M. collections & the loose manner in which additions have been made. Nothing wd. be easier than to obtain a very large set of Chilian Insects for there are resident collectors & Continental Museums seem to get supplied. Do you think it would be worth while to analyse the Chilian Carabi & adduce confirmations from other groups?

I send you the references which I promised.6 At the B.M. one day Mr Pascoe shewed me the case of Dimorphism he announced.7 It is in the males only— two forms of male very different in structure. of course this has nothing to do with dimorphism in flowers but does it not throw light on the first origin of neuter ⁠⟨⁠  ⁠⟩⁠ts,—2 forms of female?—

I set an artist to work on the plates of mimetic butterflies which ⁠⟨⁠it⁠⟩⁠ appears will be very expensive.8

Please give my kind regards to Mrs Darwin & family

Yours sincerely | H W Bates.

I find this precious bit in a Vienna periodical just to hand. “Dedicamus hocce genus eximium cel. Domino Henrico Bates, Darwinianæ doctrinæ propugnatori acerrimo &c”9   I don’t know how the author got to know I was a Darwinian.

I am told that the vacant place at B.M. will be filled by a young man who has Prof. Owen’s protection & that it will be little or no use my becoming a candidate10

Wingless Coleoptera on the Caucasus

Dr. Fr. Kolenati, Meletemata Entomologica, Fascic. 1.2. Petrop. 1845—11 (The work is advertised by Williams & Norgate— it is not in Ent. Soc. library London— I have seen a very good abstract & it appears Kol. goes very deeply into the geograph. distrib. of insects in the Caucasian lands. It was sent out by the Imp. Botanic Gardens, St Petersburg.) “The snow zone begins at 1400 Klafter (8,400 ft) & ends at 2000 Kl. (12,000 ft.?) The insects are few, nearly all beetles; all peculiar to the snow zone & all wingless. The genera are as follows:

Platychrus Carabici—feeding on Philonthus Feronia (omaseus & the Onisci, Myriapoda & Lathrobium

Platyoma Pseudomaseus Molluscs of the snow Xantholinus Nebria region Hister Calathus Helops Amara Elmis Trechus Hydræna Tachys ochthebius


otiorhynchus” It wd. be desirable to know whether arctic beetles of these genera are wingless, but I cannot at present think of any treatise on the subject.

Coleoptera of the Azores

H. Drouet has given an account of these in Revue & Magazin de Zoologie 1859.12 I could not find this work in London. I have seen only a short abstract— 57 species of beetles are given   all except one, have a striking European character & many are common to the Azores & Europe; one (Calathus fulvipes) I have hunted out & find to be a N. European insect. A thorough analysis is desirable & could easily be made by a good European Coleopterist. The solitary tropical beetle is a common American one found throughout Brazil & W. Indies but not in N. America; it presents local varieties in America   it appears well established on Azores, found on fig trees in 3 islands.

⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ Lucanus cervus   L. cervus varies in the number of leaf⁠⟨⁠l⁠⟩⁠ike expanded joints of the antennæ, from 4 to 6   This feature was always considered of specific importance & many species were f⁠⟨⁠ounde⁠⟩⁠d on it other differences accompanying—viz. L. pentaphyllus—L. Fabiani—L. Pont-Crianti & L. turcicus— They are now believed to be all one sp. by Kraatz Berliner Entom. Zeitschrift 1860 p 68–9.—13 I notice these varieties are local, being found in S. & S.E. Europe

CD annotations

6.4 in flowers … candidate 11.2] crossed ink
8.1 Please … Bates. 9.1] ‘in Portfolio Ch. 7. extract on character of Wingless Beetles. Northern forms’14 added in margin, ink; circled ink
12.1 Wingless … islands. 13.10] ‘Ch 7’ brown crayon; ‘H. W. Bates. May 1862’ ink
13.9 on fig … islands. 13.10] in CD’s hand, ink
14.1 Lucanus … Europe 14.6] ‘H. W. Bates | May 1862’ ink
Top of first page: ‘Gl⁠⟨⁠ac⁠⟩⁠ial’ ink, circled brown crayon; ‘Insects.’ ink *S1 !alignleft!CD note:15 *S2 Do not believe Carabi could have segregated— very strange not crossed during glacial period— Birds just same puzzle & sea[‘s’ over ‘S’]-shells. Only caution about land-shells altering so much, i.e. rapidly in small details, yet in grand details so constant.— Do not consider Glacial as too short or recent: Forbes believed that it probably corresponded to *a sub [interl] stage in Tertiary Geology16 I think it would be worth while— what are differences of Carabi in other parts of world; is the Chilian ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ more distant say than Siberian or N. American, or Himalayan if there found.— *A [two words illeg] B. Mus. [illeg] very odd males different— Hearty thanks for 3 most curious references. [crossed ink]


Bates and Joseph Dalton Hooker had recently spent several days at Down House (see letter to H. W. Bates, 16 April [1862], and letter from H. W. Bates, [17 April 1862]). During 1861, Bates and CD had corresponded about Bates’s work on the geographical distribution of South American insects, and its implications for CD’s views on glaciation (see Correspondence vol. 9). CD held the view that the glacial period had simultaneously affected the whole world, or a large part of it, probably causing much extinction among tropical forms and allowing northern temperate forms to migrate southwards towards the equator and even across it (Origin, pp. 376–9). Bates’s study of butterflies in the Amazon led him to question this view, the region being still ‘rich in endemic species’ (see Bates 1861, pp. 351–3). In addition, Bates had told CD: ‘there are genera peculiar to the high temperate zones of both hemispheres which present in South America compact groups of species so very dissimilar to those of North America that it is out of the question that they could have been derived thence so lately as the glacial period.’ In evidence he cited the ‘strong and very intelligible case’ of the beetle genus Carabus, his observations on which CD considered ‘very important’ (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter from H. W. Bates, 18 March 1861, and letter to H. W. Bates, 4 April [1861]).
Heer 1861b.
See nn. 11–13, below.
At the meeting of the Entomological Society of London on 7 April 1862, Francis Polkinghorne Pascoe, an entomologist at the British Museum, exhibited specimens of Xenocerus semiluctuosus and read a short paper on the dimorphic condition of the males (Pascoe 1862).
Bates refers to the plates to be published with his paper on the butterflies of the Amazon valley (Bates 1862a); the artist was Edward W. Robinson. CD had offered Bates £10 towards the cost of including coloured plates; in the event, the Linnean Society of London paid for the production of the plates, but not for the drawings (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 November [1861], and letter to H. W. Bates, 3 December [1861]).
‘We dedicate this rare genus to Master Henry Bates, keen and excellent defender of the doctrine of Darwin’ (Felder and Felder 1862, p. 113).
Richard Owen was superintendent of the natural history collections at the British Museum. The vacancy for which Bates considered applying was created by the retirement of Adam White, one of the assistants in the zoological department (Bates 1892, p. lx). With Owen’s support, Albert Charles Lewis Günther was appointed to the position (Gunther 1975, pp. 270–3, 286, and 297).
The reference is to chapter 7 of the manuscript of CD’s ‘big book’ on species, entitled ‘Laws of variation: varieties and species compared’, in which CD discussed the frequently wingless condition of the beetles on the island of Madeira (Natural selection, pp. 291–3).
Forbes 1846, pp. 402–3. There is an annotated copy of the volume of the Memoirs of the Geological Survey in which this paper appears in the Darwin Library–CUL.


Bates, Henry Walter. 1861. Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon valley. Lepidoptera: Heliconidæ. [Read 21 November 1861.] Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 23 (1860–2): 495–566.

Bates, Henry Walter. 1862. Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon valley. Coleoptera: Longicornes. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3d ser. 9: 117–24, 396–405, 446–58.

Bates, Henry Walter. 1892. The naturalist on the River Amazons. A record of adventures, habits of animals, sketches of Brazilian and Indian life, and aspects of nature under the equator, during eleven years of travel. With a memoir of the author by Edward Clodd. Reprint of the first edition. London: John Murray.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Drouet, Henri. 1859. Coléoptères açoréens. Revue et Magasin de Zoologie pure et appliquée 2d ser. 11: 243-59.

Felder, Cajetan Friedrich von and Felder, Rudolf. 1862. Specimen faunae lepidopterologicae riparum fluminis Negro superioris in Brasilia septentrionali. Wiener Entomologische Monatschrift 6: 65–80, 109–26.

Forbes, Edward. 1846. On the connexion between the distribution of the existing fauna and flora of the British Isles, and the geological changes which have affected their area, especially during the epoch of the Northern Drift. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, and of the Museum of Economic Geology in London 1: 336–432.

Gerstaecker, Carl Eduard Adolph. 1858. Die Chilenischen Arten der Gattung Carabus. Linnaea Entomologica 12: 417–58.

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.

Kolenati, Friedrich A. 1845–6. Meletemata entomologica. St Petersburg.

Kraatz, Ernst Gustave. 1860. Ueber die europäischen Hirschkäfer. Berliner Entomologische Zeitschrift 4 (1859-60): 68–75, 265–75.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Pascoe, Francis Polkinghorne. 1862. Note on Xenocerus semiluctuosus. Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 3d ser. 1 (1862–4), Proceedings, pp. 71–2.

Solier, Antoine Joseph Jean. 1848. Observations sur les genres Procrustes, Procerus, Carabus et Calosoma formant la famille des Carabiens de M. Brullé. Studi entomologici 1: 49–62.


Discusses insects of south temperate S. America and New Zealand, especially with respect to the distribution and origin of Chilean Carabi, and has sent for a German monograph to learn about the eleven species he has found.

He refers to Chilean poverty in butterflies; scanty New Zealand insect fauna.

An analysis of south temperate insects is desirable, but the small English collections make him afraid to undertake it.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Walter Bates
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 47: 175, DAR 160.1: 67–8
Physical description
ALS 11pp damaged †, CD note

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3523,” accessed on 14 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10