Transcription (WCP824.996)

[1] [p. 63]

Copy of

An Entomological letter from

Mr H[enry]. W[alter]. Bates to A. R. Wallace


Tunantins [Tonantins] — Upper Amazon, — 19 Nov[embe]r 1856

Dear Wallace.

I rec[eive]d: your kind & very interesting letter — dated "Singapore Ap[ri]l 30 & May 10:"1 — on the 7th ins[tan]t2 as I was in the act of embarking on board the steamer3 at Ega [Tefé] for this village— You will be anxious to know what I have done in this new locality— but I will leave this to the end of the letter & proceed to give you some notes on what I have done since Nov[embe]r 26. 1851 the date of arrival at Santarem [Santarém] on my 2nd journey to the interior— On the 17. Oct: last, at Ega, I made an enumeration of the species I had taken since Nov[embe]r: 1851— At that time I had my boxes empty[,] the whole of my private collections having been sent from Pará before I started from thence. Also at the end of 1854 I sent home my private collections of many groups (= Neuroptera— Bees & wasps & Ichneumons, &c Staphylini, smaller Carabides &c)— Explaining this I give you my statistics: —

[2] [p. 64]

"Lepidoptera" "Coleoptera" " 2357
Papilio — 25 species Cicindelides. 38 species Lamellicornes — 230 species
Heliconiae. 44 " Carabides — 272 " viz: Copridae- 112
Pieridae. 40 " Staphylini — 120 " Cetoniadae- 19
Nymphalidae. 147 " Hydradephaga 30 " Rutilae — 75
Satyrides. 85 " Philhydrida Melolonthidae
Erycinides. 280 " Nitidules &c 60 " Dynastides 12
Theclae — 140 " Histero. Scaphide 30 " Passali— 12
Hesperides — 192 " Pselaphi 25 " Malacodermes___ 120 "
953 " Seydmeni Brenthi_________ 30 "
Cleri — 84 " Coccinellides____ 30 "
Sphinges — — 8 " Heteromera 280 " Scolytides &c ___ 25 "
Castriae (?) — 8 " Curculionides 700 about Cyclica_________ 620 "
Sesiae — 16 " Longicornes 473 " Erotyli_________ 160 "
Bombyces — 47 " Viz:= Prioni 19 3572
Glaucophiles(?) 182 " Cerambycidae 198
Noctuides — 148 " Lamiae 251 Coleoptera 3572
Geometrides — 76 " Lepturae 5 Nocturnal Lepidoptera 635
Micro-Leps:- - 150 about Elaterides — 150 Diurnal L[epidoptera]— 953
635 Buprestides — 95 Other orders — 660
rds. under 3 lines long4 Species of Insects 5820 species
Bees — 43 species = Fossores — 190 = Homoptera 40 =
Orthoptera 15 = Hemiptera 260 = 660 species
Wasps 12 " = Neuroptera 40 = Diptera 60 =


I have not separated the Santarem & Tapajos [Tapajós] collections from the Ega one — but all the more important families are ticketed— Yet I regret not having placed a "locality ticket" to the whole of the species, because I shall find some difficulty in fixing the geographical distribution, with certainty, in many cases—

Santarem — the lower Tapajos (to 100 miles up) & Villa-nova5 — are all very similar in their productions & form a strongly marked region in the Amazonian valley — extremely different [3] [p. 65] from Pará — Cametá & from Ega. It is also different from the upper Tapajos (i.e. the river Cupari —) which I explored well. There we find many upper Amazon species— I find a difficulty, however, at present, in forming a satisfactory generalization on this matter: because there are such things as a difference in Station (= soil — vegetation &c) in regions presenting, really, on the whole, but one zoological character. This difficult question I cannot discuss now but I hope to come to some deeply interesting results afterwards —

In the upper Tapajos about 8 or 10 of the Ega Nymphalidae occur, but not numerously. The soil & forest is of the same character — great depth of vegetable mould and as, a character of the vegetation, the Cacao there flourishes— In diurnal Lepidop[tera]: the genus Calydna(?) offers us excellent data— The metiopolis [sic](?)6 of the 8 or 10 known sp[ecies]: is Altar do Chāo [Alter do Chão] 25 Miles from Santarem— In the Cupari only 1 species is found whilst at Villa-nova nearly all the sp[ecies]: occur— At Ega I have only found one individual of the genus — a species, I think, [4] [p. 66] generally distributed & I believe we we found it once or twice at Pará—

What you say about the similarity of the species between Malacca & several of the Islands of the Archipelago — compared with the great difference we find at different points & near on opposite sides of the Amazon — suggests the hypothesis that Central S. America is a region of elevation — formerly consisting of Islands long isolated & containing separate Faunas — whilst the Eastern Archipelago is a region of depression with its opposite results — but I really do not know if the Archipelago is known by Geologists to be of this character— Without having the comparisons of the European Collections from different Countries I can form no satisfactory idea on these subjects — and this is a motive which will induce me to make a voyage to England before long—

My list of species of Coleoptera appear to be considerably larger than yours but it is the result of a much longer period ‘collecting’ & I think that in the same time you [5] [p. 67] would get at least as large a number, so that, upon the whole, the 2 parts of the world are very similar as to numbers of species; as to size & beauty you only will be able to say which is superior. In "Cicindelides" — The genus "Cicindela" here — about 6 sp[ecies]: — are all small & obscure, very inferior to C. campestris of England— The "Megacephalae" are a splendid series — 15 species — some "Odontocheilae" of the upper Amazon are rich in metallic lustre. But, of this group, the "Ctenostomae" are the grandest— I have 9 sp[ecies]: 3 of which, are from Ega, are unique & probably new to science.

In "Carabides" — I think you would be astonished to see my coll[ection]: having found so few during your sojourn in this Country. The "Agras" — 15 or 20 sp[ecies]: — of Ega are grand. Some more than 1 inch long — others of most brilliant colors & curious forms— All the "Brachinides" are curious, & very many fine things — numbers of CalleidaeLebiae &c. I have also taken lately some things from Boleti, on huge trees, w[hic]h. appear to [6] [p. 68] me to come near your "Thyreopterae"7— They are very broad & flat — 4-6 lines long — yellow, orange & black spotted— I have 2 very handsome sp[ecies] of those besides 3 "Chelonodemae" which are very similar — & some black ones; besides, at least, a doz[en]: other metallic ones w[hic]h are similar to "Coptodera" — but [one illeg. word crossed out] have not the generic characters of that genus. You will thus see that I have found plenty of new forms among the "Brachinidae"—

In "Scaritidae" I have found a great no of sp[ecies]: & some quite new genera. In the "Staphylini" I have turned up a great no. of sp[ecies]:— You will be surprised to see so many sp[ecies]: of "Cetoniadae"[;] they are chiefly "Gymnetis". I have found a doz[en]: of a very fine Allorhina(?) reminding one of the Goliathi in the processes of head of ♂.

The list of "Longicornes" is rich — I think I have 60 or 80 species from Carepi [Cupari] & Pará, in my Coll[ection]: at London, not since found— They are not, as a [7] [p. 69] Collection, large or showy species; about 20 sp[ecies]: pass 1 ½ inch — & ¾ths of the whole will be from 4 to 6 or 8 lines. Their general character is elegance of form & color— You will see by part 2 of A[dam]. Whites’ "Longicornes" (Brit[ish] Mus[eum] Cat[alogue])8 that there are 62 sp[ecies]: new sp[ecies] of mine described— in the genera there treated upon, I feel sure that I have 30 more, new, unique specimens— Ega is very rich in Longicornes & in all the Families of Coleoptera: it would be difficult, indeed, to find anywhere a spot so rich in Entomology: being equally rich in Lepidoptera as in Coleoptera. There are 18 sp[ecies]. of Papilio within ½ a mile of the Town. New, & fine, things turned up daily after (altogether) 23 months of very close collecting, & the last day I went out I found a New Longicorn ("Clytus.") —

Since June last I register daily my captures— In 1851 I did the same but on a defective place —

Here is a copy of some of my day’s [8] [p. 70] work— I will, firstly, give you some of my very best days: —

Augt: 28/[18]56 = Insects 206 (of w[hic]h 114 minute Coleop[tera]s:)
New sp[ecies]: 1 sphinx. N[ew]. S[pecies]. 1 Coccinella. (large)
1 large Bombyx. 1 Pinophilus. ——
1 Scarites. (largest sp[ecies]: yet taken)
1 Macraspis. 1 Ophites.(?)
2 Cyclocephalae 1 Hydrophilus.
(1 very beautiful) 1 Anthicus (horned sp[ecies]:)
1 Scaritide (curious thing)
1 Cantharis 2 Curculionides.
magnificent 1 Pselaphide(quite new. G[enus]:)
1 clavigeride [clavigerida] (new. G[enus]:)
1 Opatride. besides many new things in
1 Licinus? minute Pselaphidae, all found
1 Angocoris (?) on the beach after a very high wind—
Augt 29 = Insects 120 (of w[hic]h 35 minute Coleop[ter]a):
N[ew]. s[pecies]: 1 Prionide. 1 Scarites.
quite a N[ew]. 1 Philochlaenia (?)
G[enus] to me, 1 Canthecona (?) 3 fine, large



1 Edeoside (?) — Hemipterae.
1 Mesomphalia. 1 Mictide
2 Curculionidae. (day’s search on beach — after a high wind)

Here are my last day’s in Ega: —

1 Erycinide.
= Octr 24 = Insects 12 77 N[ew]. 1 Trogositide. warm & moist.
minute Col[eoptera]: 65 S[pecies]. 1 Hydroporus.
2 Curculionidae.
= Oct 25 = Insects 26 — No. New: Sp[ecies]: (warm & moist)
= Octr: 26 = very heavy rain for 24 hours —

= Oct: 27 = Insects 30

minute Col[eoptera]: 10

40 N[ew]. 1 Bruchide sunny but
S[pecies]. (grand) very moist.

[9] [p. 71]

= Octr: 28 = Insects 20 — N[ew]. Sp[ecies].

1 Lamiidae (very fine thing)


= Oct: 29 = Insects 25 — N[ew] Sp[ecies]

1. Lamiidae

1. Bruchide

1. Bombyx

1. Mantispa(?)

(hot — sunny between brief showers)
= Octr: 30 = Insects 20 — N[ew]. Sp[ecies].

1. Longicorne

(cloudy & warm)

= Octr 31 = (cloudy & warm) & was preparing for voyage)
Resumé for Octr.

= Worked 25 days.

= Insects — Total specimens 835.

= New Diurnes — 5.

= " Longicornes — 7.

= " species — 50 in all..

= Nov: 2 = Insects 13: N[ew] Sp[ecies]

1 Longicorne

1 Languria (?)

1 Tabanus


Note = My no of specimens is much less than yours[.]

this results from my having already taken sufficient of all the species that are abundant in this Locality.


Now a few words about Tunantins— I chose this place for a visit because it lies on the North bank of the river (Amazon), on the terra firma w[hic]h is continuous with the bank of the Japurá up to the Andes; & is separated [10] [p. 72] from Ega by the vast expanse of low, flooded lands forming the delta, of the Japurá, Juruá &c— I thought also that 1 or 2 months search would decide whether the species change & become finer every 100 or 200 miles nearer the Andes, as our friends in London suppose— I arrived here on the 11th (Novr /[18]56) & began to work on the 12th — so I have had 8 days collecting.

I am sorry to find that insects of all kinds are very scarce, a fact w[hic]h I cannot explain as the grounds are most excellent — much varied — swamp — dry forest — ygapó9 — clay soil — sandy soil — magnificent forest paths, in fact all that could be desired— A good no of the species w[hic]h 1st turned up were new and when I do find a beetle in the woods it is almost sure to be a new one = The conclusion is that it will require many months’ stay to get a fair coll[ection]:, but I cannot stay so long, for the immense no. of insect pests (clouds of "piums"10 by day & mosquitos by night) added to [11] [p. 73] hunger (for next to nothing is to be had to eat) are beyond my endurance.

In diurnes I found at once 2 new "Cybdeles" very abundant & I have seen several of a 3rd too nimble for me to capture as yet— I have got 1 new "Eubagis"; the largest of the genus — 1 very distinct new "Ithomia"(?), & I see a new "Timetes" but cannot as yet capture it. I have also 2 new "Theclae"[,] — 2 "Satyri" — & 2 "Erycinides"—

In "Longicorns" but very few as yet[,] — but 1 grand, new sp[ecies]:— an "Anisocerus" 9 lines— On Nov 12th = I took 49 specimens = 40 sp[ecies]: = 20 new ≡ Nov 13 = 70 = 39 sp[ecies]: = 7 new ≡ Nov 14 = 39 = 35 sp[ecies]: 9 new ≡ Nov 15 = 70 = 39 sp[ecies]: 16 new ≡ Nov 16 = 39 = 38 sp[ecies]: 10 new ≡ Nov 17 = 14 = 14 sp[ecies]: 1 new ≡ Nov 18 = 40 = 35 sp[ecies]: = 5 new ≡ Nov 19 = 17 = 17 sp[ecies]: = 3 new—

I shall stay here about 6 weeks, at the end of w[hic]h I shall be able to pronounce on the relation of the fauna with that of other districts—

I am now nearly at the end of my sheet without having touched upon any [12] [p. 74] subject except Entomology although the birds & the monkeys of this upper river are interesting— I am living, too, in the midst of a nation of Indians not yet reclaimed from the purely savage state— They are the Caishánas11 — a very quiet harmless tribe — there are about 300 of them, some of their houses are ab[ou]t a mile from the village, but the greater part live 2 days journey up the river Tunantins— They have no warlike weapons, & do not practice tattooing — they use, however, the Zarabatana12& Urarí13poisons—

There is another topic on w[hic]h I must touch— I rec[eive]d ab[ou]t 6 months ago a copy of your paper in the "Annals" on the "Laws w[hic]h have governed the introduction of new species"14— I was startled at first to see you already ripe for the enunciation of the theory— You can imagine with what interest I read & studied it, & I must say that it is perfectly well done. The idea is like but but truth itself, so [13] [p. 75] simple & obvious that those who read & understand it will be struck by its simplicity: & yet it is perfectly original. The reasoning is close & clear, & altho[ugh]' so brief an essay it is quite complete — embraces the whole difficulty & anticipates & annihilates all objections— Few men will be in a condition to comprehend & appreciate the paper, but it will infallibly create for you a high & sound reputation— The theory I quite assent to & you know was conceived by me also, but I confess that I could not have propounded it with so much force & completeness.

Many details I could supply, in fact a great deal remains to be done to illustrate & confirm the theory — a new method of investigating & propounding Zoology & Botany inductively is necessitated, & new libraries will have to be written — in part of this task I hope to be a laborer for many happy & profitable years— What a noble subject w[oul]d be that of a monograph of a group of beings peculiar to one region but [14] [p. 76] offering different sp[ecies]: in each province of it = tracing the laws w[hic]h connect together the modifications of forms & colors with the local circumstances of a province or station — tracing as far as possible the actual affiliation of the species— Two of such groups occur to me at once — in Entomology — in "Heliconiidae" & "Erotylidae" of S. America — the latter I think more interesting than the former for one reason — the sp[ecies]: are more local having feebler means of locomotion than the "Heliconiidae" —

I accept your proposal of future exchange of specimens & had long time ago thought of proposing it to you— In all the interesting families as "Longicornes" & "Carabides" &c I shall continue to reserve specimens of all the sp[ecies]: possible with this view—

I have been badly furnished with copies of interesting papers & periodicals from England— I have not for a long time seen the "Zoologist" & know [15] [p. 77] not what rubbishing stuff they print from my hasty letters— The papers describing some of your things — such as the "cleridae" & the "Diptera" — I do not see15 — I have got, however, the proceedings of the Ent[omological]: Soc[iety]: for 1855 complete — w[hic]h contain a great deal that was new to me & very useful to know.

Nov: 23rd = We expect the Steamer down every hour so I must conclude this letter— These last 4 days have produced me 6 new Butterflies & an Indian has brought me a pair of a monkey (viz: "Midis" (?)) new to me— The best of the Diurnes is a "Catagramma" — very peculiar & rich in its colors — unlike anything fig[ure]d by Hewitson16 & as handsome as the finest of those fig[ure]d in his work17— it somewhat approaches "Lyca"— There is yet another sp[ecies] flying about—

The next finest thing is a "Eurygona" also likewise the handsomest of its genus — being crimson! With bl[ac]k border— I have now 3 new "Eurygonae" here — Coleoptera are scarcer every day — only 1 new "Longicorne".

Yours very truly | Henry Walter Bates

See ARW to Henry Walter Bates 30 April 1856 (WCP364.364).
In the current month, i.e. 7 November 1856.
On the 7th of November 1856 Bates embarked on the 'Tabatinga', a steamer under the command of Senhor Nines Mello Cardozo. (Bates, H. W. 1863. The Naturalist on the River Amazons. 2 vols. London: John Murray. p. 367).
The line is a British unit of length equivalent to approximately 2.1 mm.
Villa-nova, now Parintins, a city in the Brazilian state of Amazonas.
'Metiopolis(?)' is evidently a copying error for metropolis. The 'metropolis of a species' refers to an area of maximum development for a given species. (Thompson, C. W. 1873. The Depths of the Sea: An Account of the General Results of the Dredging Cruises of HMSS 'Porcupine' and 'Lightning' During the Summers of 1868, 1869, and 1870. London: Macmillan and Co. p. 12).
Bates probably refers to the Thyreopterus which ARW reported in his Letter from Sarawak (1855) as occuring "sparingly under Boleti". (Wallace, A. R. 1855. Proceedings of Natural-History Collectors in Foreign Countries. Zoologist 13: 4803-4807 [p. 4033]).
See White, A. 1847-1856. Catalogue of Coleopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum. 9 vols. London: Spottiswoode and Shaw. Vol 8. pp. 175-409.
Ygapó, literally "forest full of water", refers to the flooded lands in the Amazon valley. (Bates, H. W. 1863.The Naturalist on the River Amazons. 2 vols. London: John Murray. Vol I. p. 267-268).
Pium is the Brazilian vernacular name for black flies (Simuliidae).
The Cayuishana (Cauixána or Caishánas) were an Arawakan group of Amerindians who lived near the Mauapari river in Brazil. The Cayuishana numbered approximately 600 in 1820 and about 400 when Bates encountered the tribe in 1863. (Olson, J. S. 1991. The Indians of Central and South America: An Ethnohistorical Dictionary. New York, Connecticut and London: Greenwood Press. p. 78).
A blowpipe generally nine or ten feet long and constructed from two separate lengths of wood, scooped out to form a tube. The two half tubes are held together with a tight spirally-wound strapping from long flat strips of the Jacitara palm and the black wax of Melipona bees. (Bates, H. W. 1863.The Naturalist on the River Amazons. 2 vols. London: John Murray. Vol 1. 235-236).
Urarí or curare is a poison extracted from the bark of Strychnos toxifera. (Orton, J. 1870. The Andes and the Amazon; Across the Continent of South America. London: Sampson Low, Son, & Marston. p. 228).
Wallace, A. R. 1855. On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 16 (2nd s.): 184-196 (Sept. 1855: no. 93, 2nd s.).
Bates probably refers to ARW's The Entomology of Malacca (1855). (Wallace, A. R. 1855. The Entomology of Malacca. Zoologist 13: 4636-4639 ).
Hewitson, William Chapman (1806-1878). British naturalist, author and collector. Founding member of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne 1829
Hewitson produced illustrations of new species of Lepidoptera for Edward Doubleday and John O. Westwood's The Genera of Diurnal Lepidoptera (1846-52). (See Doubleday, E. & Westwood, J. O. 1846-1852. The Genera of Diurnal Lepidoptera. 2 vols. London, UK: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans).

Published letter (WCP824.5911)

[1] [p. 64]


Tunantins, Upper Amazon. November 19, 1856

Dear Wallace,—... I received about six months ago a copy of your paper in the Annals on "The Laws which have Governed the Introduction of New Species." I was startled at first to see you already ripe for the enunciation of the theory. You can imagine with what interest I read and studied it, and I must say that it is perfectly well done. The idea is like truth itself, so simple and obvious that those who read and understand it will be struck by its simplicity; [2] and yet it is perfectly original. The reasoning is close and clear, and although so brief an essay, it is quite complete, embraces the whole difficulty, and anticipates and annihilates all objections.

Few men will be in a condition to comprehend and appreciate the paper, but it will infallibly create for you a high and sound reputation. The theory I quite assent to, and, you know, was conceived by me also, but I profess that I could not have propounded it with so much force and completeness.

Many details I could supply, in fact a great deal remains to be done to illustrate and confirm the theory: a new method of investigating and propounding zoology and botany inductively is necessitated, and new libraries will have to be written; in part of this task I hope to be a labourer for many happy and profitable years. What a noble subject would be that of a monograph of a group of beings peculiar to one region but offering different species in each province of it — tracing the laws which connect together the modifications of forms and colour with the local circumstances of a province or station — tracing as far as possible the actual affiliation of the species.

Two of such groups occur to me at once, in entomology, in Heliconiidae and Erotylidae of South America; the latter I think more interesting that the former for one reason — the species are more local, having feebler means of locomotion than the Heliconiidae.... — Yours very truly, | HENRY WALTER BATES.

Please cite as “WCP824,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 30 November 2023, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP824