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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Roland Trimen   20 March [1868]1

Tenbury, | Worcestershire.

Friday, 20th. March.

My dear Mr. Darwin,

Your kind note of Monday last has only just reached me.2 I cannot guess by what mischance it has so long remained unforwarded.

I return to town tomorrow; and if I do not hear from you that it will be inconvenient, I will call about your luncheon hour on Tuesday.

I ought to have replied to your note of Feb. 21st., but omitted to do so in the expectation of meeting you at the Museum or elsewhere before I left town.3 I know, by personal observation, of no cases similar to that of Lasiocampa Quercus, except the generally well-known one of Orgyia antiqua, several ♂s of which may often be seen hovering about the almost wingless ♀.4

Stainton, however, in his “Manual” notes that the ♂s of several other Bombycidæ can be “assembled” by aid of a virgin ♀, as well as some of the Tiger Moths (Arctiidæ).5

I should indeed have been glad if you could have encouraged me by your presence when I read my paper to the Linnean Society; but I scarcely hoped that you would be well enough to attend.6 I did not lack supporters, however; for both Sir J. Lubbock & Wallace7 spoke ably, as well on the special subject as on the general question. But in fact there was no one who advanced anything worth answering on the other side, and what little was said was very effectually disposed of by the remarks of Wallace & Sir John.

With my compliments to Mrs. Darwin, | I remain | Very faithfully yours | Roland Trimen

CD annotations

1.1 Your … left town. 3.2] crossed pencil
3.1 I ought … (Arctiidæ.) 4.3] enclosed in square brackets pencil
5.1 I should … Mrs. Darwin, 6.1] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘Sexes’ pencil


The year is established by the reference to Trimen’s paper (see n. 6, below).
In his letter of 21 February [1868], CD had written that he hoped to see Trimen in London. CD was in London from 3 March to 1 April 1868 (see CD’s journal (Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix II)).
See letter from Roland Trimen, 20 February 1868, and letter to Roland Trimen, 21 February [1868]. Lasiocampa quercus is the oak eggar moth. Trimen also refers to Orgyia antiqua (the vapourer moth), females of which have only vestigial wings and cannot fly, but rely on pheromones to attract males.
Henry Tibbats Stainton had noted this in his Manual of British butterflies and moths (Stainton 1856–9, 1: 151). Stainton included Lasiocampa quercus within the family Bombicidae (Stainton 1856–9, 1: 107), but it is now in the family Lasiocampidae, in the superfamily Bombycoidea (Moths and butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland).
CD refers to the paper, ‘On some remarkable mimetic analogies among African butterflies’ (R. Trimen 1868), that Trimen delivered at the 5 March 1868 meeting of the Linnean Society.
John Lubbock and Alfred Russel Wallace (see letter from A. R. Wallace, 8 March [1868]).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Moths and butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland. Edited by A. Maitland Emmet et al. 10 vols. Vols. 5, 6, and 8 not yet published. London: Curwen Books. Colchester: Harley Books. 1976–

Stainton, Henry Tibbatts. 1856–9. A manual of British butterflies and moths. 2 vols. London: J. van Voorst.

Trimen, Roland. 1868. On some remarkable mimetic analogies among African butterflies. [Read 5 March 1868.] Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 26 (1868–70): 497–522.


On attraction of males by females in moths. H. T. Stainton mentions a case.

Letter details

Letter no.
Roland Trimen
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Tenbury, Worcestershire
Source of text
DAR 86: A92–3
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6030,” accessed on 13 June 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16