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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Robert Crotch   2 October [1868]1

2d oct.

My dear Sir

I write in haste—as I am going away to see my brother safely married on Monday2—after wh. I shall again be here, at your disposal— I have looked up the “sound” question a little—3 Landois cites no one hardly & trusts to himself principally I find—4 I have verified the following references—
{ Fennell. Clytus arietis5
Marshall. Cychrus rostratus6
but no idea of sex has occurred to any of these— Lacordaire in his introduction says when there is a definite thing to make a noise with it is always sexual but he is evidently thinking of orthoptera only—7 The paper of Westring in Kroyer’s Nat Tÿdskrift. 1847. etc. is evidently the best— he gives a number of Coleoptera Trox, Cychrus, Geotrupes, Ceuthorhynchus Cryptorhynchus &c.8 but I cannot tell from the short abstract in Erichson’s Bericht whether he has guessed at any sexual idea or not—9 the paper I have not seen—& we have not got Kroyer yet—tho’ I ordered it some time ago— I will endeavour to procure you sexes of several of these insects & you can then verify all this, but the moment I come back I will enter at length into the question— this is only to shew that I am not forgetting it10

Yrs vy ty | G R Crotch

Please tell yr. son that I ordered a pin box for him11—forceps he can’t have just yet—& must shift with ordinary pliers. I believe the beech Tomicus turns out very good if not absolutely new— if he goes to Lullingston again tell him to bring away the hard beech fungus en masse & we will cut it up here for the Cis wh is good I think, & ought to be got.12


CD annotations

1.4 Clytus arictis] underl pencil
1.4 Fennell.... rostratus 1.5] ‘(not in Landois)’ added pencil
1.5 Cychrus rostratus] underl pencil
3.1 Please … be got. 3.5] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘(Marshall Cychrus)’ pencil
End of letter: ‘G. R. Crotch’ pencil


The year is established by the reference to the marriage of Crotch’s brother (see n. 2, below).
William Duppa Crotch was married in 1868 in Bridgnorth, Shropshire (England and Wales civil registration indexes, London, 1868, vol. 6a, p. 1153 (General Register Office)). The Monday following 2 October 1868 was 5 October.
No letter from CD to Crotch asking about stridulation in beetles has been found; however, the question may have been raised with Crotch by Francis Darwin (see letter from Francis Darwin to Emma Darwin, [after 16 October 1868]). Francis had worked with CD on stridulation during his summer vacation from Cambridge University (see letter to A. R. Wallace, 16 September [1868] and n. 2), where Crotch was a librarian.
Crotch refers to Hermann Landois and to Landois 1867. An annotated copy of Landois 1867 is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. See letter to John Lubbock, 15 February [1868] and n. 5, and letter to Fritz Müller, 3 June 1868.
The reference is to Fennel 1834.
The reference is to Marshall 1833. Cychrus rostratus is a synonym of C. caraboides subsp. caraboides, the long-headed carabus. See also letter from Francis Darwin to Emma Darwin, [after 16 October 1868] and n. 6.
Jean Théodore Lacordaire discussed sounds made by insects in his Introduction à l’entomologie, pp. 267–78 (Lacordaire 1834–8); for his discussion of Orthoptera, see pp. 273–6.
Crotch refers to Niklas Westring and to the second part of Westring 1845–9, which appeared in the third issue of volume 2 of Naturhistorisk Tidsskrift, published in 1847. Naturhistorisk Tidsskrift was a Danish periodical founded by Henrik Nikolaj Krøyer. A translation of a section of the second part of Westring 1845–9, in the hand of George Howard Darwin, is in DAR 81: 193–220. CD referred to Westring’s observations of stridulating beetles in Descent 1: 379–82. CD had already learned of stridulation in Trox and Geotrupus (see, for example, letter from E. W. Janson, 25 May 1868, and CD’s notes in DAR 81: 24–9). Crotch also refers to the weevils Ceutorhynchus and Cryptorhynchus, in the family Curculionidae.
Archiv für Naturgeschichte, edited by Wilhelm Ferdinand Erichson, included essay reviews of works published in various fields of natural history during the previous year. The review of Westring 1847 is in part 2 of volume 14 (1848): 42–4.
CD acknowledged Crotch for specimens and information in Descent 1: 379 nn. 70 and 72.
The reference is to Francis Darwin; see n. 3, above.
Lullingstone Castle, in Eynsford, Kent, approximately five miles east of Down, included two areas of beech woodland, evidently planted in the late eighteeth century (Pittman 1983). Tomicus is a genus of bark beetle.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Fennel, James. 1834. The wasp beetle (Clytus arietis), when impaled, produces an obvious noise and in the following manner. Magazine of Natural History 7: 254–5.

Lacordaire, Jean Théodore. 1834–8. Introduction à l’entomologie, comprenant les principes généraux de l’anatomie et de la physiologie des insectes, des détails sur leurs moeurs et un résumé des principaux systèmes de classification proposés jusqu’à ce jour pour ces animaux. 2 vols. Paris: Librarie Encyclopédique de Roret.

Landois, Hermann. 1867. Die Ton- und Stimmapparate der Insecten in anatomisch-physiologisher und akusticher Beziehung. Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie 17: 105–84.

Marshall, Thomas. 1833. Cause of sound emitted by Cychrus rostratus. Entomological Magazine 1: 213–14.

Pittman, Susan. 1983. Lullingstone Park: the evolution of a mediaeval deer park. Rainham, Kent: Meresborough Books.

Westring, Niklas. 1845–9. Bidrag till historien om Insekternes stridulations-organer. Naturhistorisk Tidskrift 2d s. 1: 57–70; 2: 334–45.


Bibliographical references on [stridulation in] Coleoptera. Finds no idea of sex has occurred to authors [i.e., they do not find the stridulating organs differing according to sex; cf. Descent 1: 378–85].

Letter details

Letter no.
George Robert Crotch
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 82: A98
Physical description
ALS 2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6407,” accessed on 12 August 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16