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Record number: WCP824

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Sent by:
Henry Walter Bates
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
19 November 1856

Sent by Henry Walter Bates, Tunantins, Upper Amazon to Alfred Russel Wallace [none given] on 19 November 1856.

Record created:
18 March 2011 by NHM
Verified by:
22/08/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline (All except summary checked);


No summary available at this time.

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Record contains:

  • letter (1)
  • publication (1)

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LETTER (WCP824.996)

A transcription handwritten by other in English.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM Catkey-418383
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the Henry Walter Bates Literary Estate.
Record scrutiny:
22/08/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline;

Physical description

Transcription information





"Copy of

An Entomological letter from

Mr H. W. Bates2 to A. R. Wallace

Tunantins -- Upper Amazon -- 19 Nov[ember]. 1856

Dear Wallace.

I rec[eive]d. your kind & very interesting letter -- dated Singapore Ap[ri]l 30 & May 10 : "-- on the 7th ins[tan]t.. as I was in the act of embarking on board the steamer at Ega 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 on my 2nd. journey to the interior -- On the 17. Oct[ober]: last, at Ega, I made an enumeration of the species I had taken since Nov[embe]r: 1857 -- 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 & Ichneumon, &c Staphylini, smaller Carabides &c) -- Explaining this I give you my statistics: --








25 species


38 species


230 species


44 "


272 "

Viz: Capridae - 112


40 "


120 "

Cetoniadae - 19


147 "


30 "

Rutilae - 75


85 "




280 "

Nitidules &c

60 "

Dynastides - 12


140 "

Histero. Scaphote

30 "

Passali - 12


192 "


25 "


120 "

953 "



84 "


30 "


8 "


280 "


30 "

Castriae (?)

8 "


700 about

Scolytides &c

25 "


16 "


473 "


620 "


47 "

Viz:= Prioni 19


160 "

Glaucophiles (?)

182 "

Cerambycidae 198



148 "

Lamiae 251




76 "

Lepturae 5

Nocturnal Lepidoptera


Micro Leps:

150 about



Diurnal L"





Other orders


2/3rds under [word illeg.]

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 & Tap--ajos 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-nova -- are all very similar in their productions & form a strongly marked region in the Amazonian valley -- extremely different [[3]]4 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 satis--factory 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(?) of the 8 or 10 known sp[ecies]: is Altar do Chao 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]]5 generally distributed or 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[outh]. America is a region of elevation -- formerly consisting of Islands long isolated & containing separate Faunas -- whilst the Easter 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 com--parisons of the European Collections from different Countries I can form no satis--factory 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 thanose yours but it is the result of a much longer period ‘collecting’ & I think that in the same time you [[5]]6 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 "Cicindelae" here -- about 6 sp[ecies]: -- are all small & obscure, very inferior to C. campestries 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 Calleidae -- Lebiae &c. I have also taken lately some things from Boleti, on huge trees, w[hic]h. appear to [[6]]7 me to come near your "Thyreopterae" -- They are very broad & flat -- 4-6 lines long -- yellow, orange & black spotted -- I have 2 very hand--some 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 have not the generic character of theat 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 sur--prised 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 & Pará, in my Coll[ection]: at London, not since found - They are not, as a [[7]]8 Collection, large or showy species: about 20 sp[ecies]: pass 1 ½ inch -- & ¾ [word illeg.] of the whole will be from 4 to 6 or 8 lines. Their general character is elegance of form & color[sic] -- You will see by part 2 of A. Whites’ "Longicornes" (Brit[ish]: Mus[eum]: Cat[alogue]:) that there are 62 sp: 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 Lep-idoptera as in Coleoptera. There are 18 sp[ecies]: of Papilis 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 plan --

There is a copy of some of my day’s [[8]]9 work -- I will, firstly, give you some of my very best days: --

Aug[ust]: 28/56

= Insects 206 (of w[hic]h. 114 Coleops:)

New: sp[ecies]:

1 sphinx.


1 Coccinella. (large)

1 large Bombyx.

1 Pinophilus.

(largest sp[ecies]: yet taken)

1 Scarites.

1 Ophites (?)

1 Macraspis.

1 Hydrophilus.

2 Cyclocephalae

(1 very beautiful)

1 Anthicus (horned sp[ecies])

1 Cantharis


1 Scaritide (curious thing)

1 Opatride.

2 Curculionides.

1 Licinus?

1Pselaphide (quite new: G[enus]:

1 Angocoris (?)

1 clavigeride (new. G[enus]:

besides many new things in minute Pselaphidae, all found on the beach after a very high wind --

Aug[ust]: 29

= Insects 120 (of w[hic]h. 35 minute Coleops:)



1 Prionide

Quite a N[ew], G[enus] to me, near "Ctenoscelis"

1 Scarites.

1 Mesomphalia.

1 Philochlaenia (?)

2 Curculionidae.

1 Canthecona (?) 3 fine, large

1 Edeoside (?) Hemiptera

1 Mictide --

(day’s search on beach -- after a high wind)

Here are my last day’s in Ega: --

= Oct[obe]r 24

= Insects 12


Minute Col[eoptera] 65

77 N[ew]. S[pecies].

1 Erycinidae.

1 Trogositide.

1 Hydroporus.

2 Curculionidae.

warm & moist

= Oct[ober] 25

= Insects 26 --

No. New: Sp[ecies]:

(warm & moist)

= Oct[obe]r: 26

= very heavy rain for 24 hours --

= Oct[ober]: 27

= Insects 30

Minute Col[eoptera]: 10

40 N[ew]. S[pecies].

1 Bruchide


sunny but very moist.



= Oct[obe]r: 28

= Insects 20 --

N[ew]: Sp[ecies]:

1 Lamiidae (very fine thing)


= Oct[obe]r: 29

= Insects 25 --

N[ew]: Sp[ecies]:

1. Lamiidae

1. Bruchide

1. Bombyx

1. Mantispa(?)

(hot -- sunny between brief showers)

= Oct[obe]r: 30

= Insects 20 --

N[ew]: Sp[ecies]:

1. Longicorne

(cloudy & warm)

= Oct[obe]r: 31

= (cloudy & warm) & was preparing for voyage)

Resumé for Oct[obe]r.

= Worked 25 days.

= Insects -- Total specimens 835.

= New Diurnes -- 5

= " Longicornes -- 7

= " species -- 50 in all..

= Nov[ember]: 2

= Insects 13 --

N[ew]: Sp[ecies]:


1Languria (?)



Note = My no. of specimens is much less than yours this results from my having already taken sufficient of all the species that are abun--dant in this Locality.

Now a few words about Turan--tins -- 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 Iu--purá up to the Andes; & is separated [[10]]11 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. (Nov[embe]r. /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 ex--cellent -- much varied -- swamp -- dry forest -- ygapó -- 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 I 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" by day & mosquitos by night) added to [[11]]12 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 cap--ture 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" glius -- On Nov[ember] 12th = I took 49 specimens = 40 sp[ecies]: = 20 new ≡ Nov[ember] 13 = 70 = 39 sp[ecies]: = 7 new ≡ Nov[ember] 14 = 39 = 35 sp[ecies]: 9 new ≡ Nov[ember] 15 = 70 = 39 sp[ecies]: 16 new ≡ Nov[ember] 16 = 39 = 38 sp[ecies]: 10 new ≡ Nov[ember] 17 = 14 = 14 sp[ecies]: 1 new ≡ Nov[ember] 18 = 40 = 35 sp[ecies]: = 5 new ≡ Nov[ember] 19 = 17 = 17 sp[ecies]: = 3 new --

I shall stay here about 6 weeks, at the end of w[hich]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]]13 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 Caishánas -- 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 Zarabatana Urarí poisons --

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"-- 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]]14 simple & obvious that those who read & understand it will be struck by its simplicity : & yet it is perfectly original the reasoning is close & clear, & alth[ough]’ so brief an essay it is quite complete -- em--braces the whole difficulty & anticipates & annihilates all objections -- Few men will be in a condition to comprehend & appreciate the paper, but it will in--fallibly create for you a high & sound reputation -- The theory I quite assent to & you know was conc[e]ived 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 illus--trate & 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 being peculiar to one region but [[14]]15 offering different sp[ecies]: in each province of it = tracing the laws w[hic]h. connect together the mod--ifications of forms & colors with the local circumstances of a province or station -- tracing as far as possible the actual affil--iation of the species -- Two of such groups occur to me at once -- in Entomology -- in "Heliconiidae" "Erotylidae" of S[outh]. 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 "Heli-coniidae" --

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]]16 not what rubbishing stuff they print from my last letters -- The papers describing some of your things -- such as the "cleridae" & the "Diptera" -- I do not see -- I have got, however, the proceedings of the Ent[omological]: Soc[iety]: for 1855 complete -- w[hic]h. con--tain a great deal that was new to me & very useful to know.

Nov[ember] 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 ([word illeg.]: "Midis" (?)) new to me -- The best of the Diurnes is a "Catagramma" -- very peculiar & rich in its colors -- unlike anything fig[ure]d. by Hewitson17 & as handsome as the finest of those fig[ure]d. in his work -- 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 "Eurygona" here -- Coleoptera are scarcer every day -- only 1 new "Longicorne".

Yours very truly | Henry Walter Bates [signature]


1. Text reads "63" in the top right of the page

2. Henry Walter Bates (1825 - 1892), entomologist

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7. Text in unknown hand reads "68" in the top left of the page

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9. Text in unknown hand reads "70" in the top left of the page

10. Text in unknown hand reads "71" in the top right of the page

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15. Text in unknown hand reads "76" in the top left of the page

16. Text in unknown hand reads "77" in the top right of the page

17. William C. Hewitson (1806 - 1878), zoologist & illustrator

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