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Collecting and sending insects to Bates

Collecting and sending insects to Bates (page 1)

Catalogue number: WP1/3/13

Letter from Wallace to Henry Walter Bates listing and describing insect specimens and plans for further collections, dated June 1845.

Wallace sends fellow entomologist and friend Bates a list of insect specimens. Wallace and Bates corresponded regularly, exchanging lists and swapping duplicate specimens so they could both increase their personal insect collections.

Wallace lists 25 different species in total. He suggests there is little point collecting excessive numbers of the same species. 'Many insects vary so little that one or at most 2 pairs illustrate them as well as a dozen...I am of course speaking of a beginner...' This is interesting as Wallace was completely self-taught. He had not planned on making his hobby of entomology and natural history his life. He writes, 'I think it much better to attach yourself to some particular families first to investigate thoroughly'. Already at this early stage he appreciates the vastness of nature.  Wallace focused his taxonomic studies on the order Coleoptera (beetles) along with some butterflies (Lepidoptera), rose chafer beetles and birds.

In the remainder of the letter Wallace describes where he found some of his specimens and elaborates on other interesting insects.  Wallace then briefly describes his plans for an insect cabinet in which to house his collection.

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Letter to Alfred Russel Wallace from the Royal Society, about his Darwin Medal award

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