skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. B. Leffen   7 May 1873

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

May 7 1873

Dear Sir

I write merely to thank you for your note & information, & to express a hope that you may receive benefit from your present residence. I had previously heard of the Australian caterpillars; but no one knows how they cause such severe pain.1 In Africa there is a species believed to belong to the same genus, which is so venomous that if a hand touches a surface previously touched by the caterpillar, dreadful inflammation follows over nearly the whole surface of the body.

With my thanks & hopes for your recovery I remain | dear Sir | yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin

Footnotes

Leffen’s letter has not been found. He probably wrote in response to CD’s discussion of the protective mechanisms of caterpillars in Descent 1: 416. Leffen may have written about caterpillars of cup moths (Limacodidae), which have retractable stinging spines that cause irritation, and are fairly common in Australia.

Bibliography

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

Summary

Thanks for note and information.

Mentions venomous caterpillars in Africa and Australia.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-8903
From
Charles Robert Darwin
To
Thomas Bray Leffen
Sent from
Down
Source of text
State Library Victoria, Melbourne (MS 6219, Box 231/3. Diary of G. F. Belcher vol. 3)
Physical description
2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8903,” accessed on 17 September 2021, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-8903.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21

letter