RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 'I have been watching black Aphis on Dock tended by reddish Myrmica' (6.1858) CUL-DAR205.11.89 Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker, corrections and edited by John van Wyhe 11.2010. RN1

NOTE: This note was written eight days after Darwin received the famous letter and essay from Alfred Russel Wallace.

Editorial symbols used in the transcription:
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Reproduced with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.


June 26 - 27 /1858/

I have been watching black Aphis on Dock tended by reddish Myrmica. — I removed all the ants & stopped their return by tree for few hours; then I watched them for long time & tickled the, with human hairs fixed to handle, but then not one excreted. Then I put some Myrmica on from adjoining twig: they immediately fingered them & stroked their abdomen with their antennae walking over their backs, & dozens soon [4 words illeg] secreted their globules of [sap], which was greedily devoured. The Aphides clearly lifted their abdomen towards ants mouth. Is it a convenience to be relieved of these viscid secretions. The whole seemed intentional, for without exception they secreted just in front of ant mouth; i e the [active] one which was being carefree secreted, but sometimes an

[sentence breaks off]

This note was incorporated in the fragment of the draft of the Origin of species now kept by the Natural History Museum (London), online here, and appeared in Origin of species, pp. 210-11.

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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 2 July, 2012