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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Otto Staudinger   20 May 1868

Down Bromley Kent, S E

May 20 | 1868.

Dear Sir

I thank you sincerely for your most kind and interesting letter.1 It is a great disappointment to me that I may not trust to your List in relation to the sexes of Lepidoptera; but I am not the less obliged to you for having saved me from falling into error.2 It would be a very interesting point if you could prove that the females were the most liable to perish in coccoon-state; but, as I understand your letter, this is at present only your belief.3 I am particularly glad to hear of the remarkable fact of the hybrid moths being all males. This fact will come in very useful for me to quote.4 I quite agree with what you say, that entomologists have the best means of proving the derivation of species, & I have often much wished that I was one of the class, but it evidently requires the labour of a life to study carefully even one division of so gigantic a class.

With very sincere thanks & my best respects, I remain, dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin


See letter from Otto Staudinger, 15 May 1868. Although CD cited Staudinger for information on Lepidoptera in Descent 1: 311–12, he did not mention Staudinger’s findings on hybrids.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.


Thanks for information on sex ratios of Lepidoptera.

Agrees that entomologists have best means of proving derivation of species.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Otto Staudinger
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 147: 492
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6192,” accessed on 18 February 2020,

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