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Darwin's questions on caterpillar colouring

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Feb. 23rd 1867                              Down.
                                                       Bromley.
                                                       Kent. S.E.

Dear Wallace

I much regretted that I was unable to call on you, but after Monday I was unable even to leave the house. On Monday evening I called on Bates & put a difficulty before him, which I could not answer, & as on some former similar occasion, his first suggestion was "you had better ask Wallace". My difficulty is, why are caterpillars sometimes so beautifully & artistically coloured? Seeing that many? are coloured to escape danger I can hardly attribute this bright  colour in other cases to more physical conditions. Bates says the most gaudy caterpillar he ever saw in Amazonia (of a Sphinx) was conspicuous at the distance of yards from its black & red colours, whilst feeding on large green leaves. If anyone objected to male butterflies having been made beautiful by sexual selection, & asked why sh[oul]d. they not have been made beautiful as well as their caterpillars; what would you answer? I could not answer, but sh[oul]d.  maintain my ground. Will you think over this, & I am some time either of letters or when we meet, tell me what you think. Also I want to know whether your female minutus[?] butterfly is more beautiful & brighter than the male? When next in London I must get you to show me your kingfishers. - My health is a dreadful evil, I failed in half my engagements during this last visit to London. Believe me
                from very sincerely
[signed]    C. Darwin


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