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Darwin Correspondence Project

To [Gardeners’ Chronicle]   [after 27 August 1863]1

Peaches perforated & sucked by moths.2—  Have any of your readers seen moths or butterflies sucking peaches, plums or other fruit, of which the skin was not broken?

A well-known entomologist, Mr Roland Trimen, writes to me from the Cape of Good Hope, that a moth, the [Achaea chamaeleon], has lately swarmed in the province of Natal;3 & after advancing some indirect evidence that moths are capable of perforating with their delicate proboses the skin of the peach, he sends me the following extract, together with a sketch of a perforated peach, from a letter written to him by an accomplished lady & botanist.4


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Roland Trimen, 27 August [1863]. See n. 2, below.
In the preceding letter, CD wrote to Roland Trimen of his intention to send a letter to the Gardeners’ Chronicle on this subject. He later wrote to Trimen that he had started this task but had not finished it owing to illness (see letter to Roland Trimen, 25 November [1863]).
Letter from Roland Trimen, 16, 17, and 19 July 1863. Natal is a province on the north-east coast of South Africa. However, CD was mistaken; the observations were made in Grahamstown, Cape Province, South Africa. CD left a gap in his draft where the species name has been supplied.


[Roland] Trimen of the Cape of Good Hope sends evidence that a moth [Achaea chamaeleon] is capable of perforating the skin of a peach with its delicate proboscis. Have any readers observed moths or butterflies sucking any fruit of which the skin was not previously broken?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Gardeners’ Chronicle
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 70: 172
Physical description
ADraft 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4279F,” accessed on 5 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11