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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   7 [July 1869]1

Caerdeon Barmouth | N. Wales

June 7th.

My dear W.

Very many thanks for your excellent observations. I will send the Fly to B. Museum & get it named—2

If you are not wearied out, I certainly shd be very glad if you cd. pay another visit. I still think some larger insect must visit the plant; probably wasps.—

I feel sure about the elasticity of Hinge in the specimens which I examined.—3 May not the dry Weather have acted injuriously on the plant?—

When you come here, I must ask you about one point— viz whether the fly with pollen-masses attached to it, crawled out over the distal & flexible part of the labellum but without depressing this part, or crawled out (as I supposed) nearer the centre of the flower, ie between the 2 upper petals.

I am ashamed that you shd. have had to watch so long.—

Very many thanks, my dear old fellow, | In Haste for Post | yours affect. | C. Darwin.


The month and year are established by the address. CD spent from 12 June to 30 July 1869 at Caerdeon; he evidently wrote ‘June’ by mistake.
See letter from W. E. Darwin, 5 July [1869]. In Orchids 2d ed., pp. 99–100, CD described William’s observations and mentioned two species of fly that he had observed, Sarcophaga carnosa (now S. carnaria, a flesh fly) and Coelopa frigida (the seaweed fly).
In his letter of 5 July [1869], William had noted that the elasticity in the hinge of the labellum of Epipactis palustris seemed very slight.


Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.


Thanks him for his excellent observations [on Epipactis?]; would like WED to watch for some large insect visiting the plant.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 130
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6819,” accessed on 15 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17