The Number of Species of Insects

Nature (January 1877)

[275] It was not my object to give an accurate estimate of the total number of species of insects. Gerstaecker, in the new edition of Broun's 'Thier-reich,' gives 200,000 as the total number of species of Arthropoda; but I dare say that Mr. McLachlan has good grounds for the claim he puts in for insects alone.

Letter response to:

Prof. Huxley is very much within the mark when he estimates the species of insects as "about 100,000, if not more." Were I to estimate the number of described species at 200,000, I believe the figures would also fall short of the truth, even allowing a liberal margin for synonyms. In one order alone (Coicoptera) it is estimated that 80,000 species have been described.

I could enlarge upon the bearing these figures have upon theories on the geographical distribution of animals, but content myself with the remark that the groups of Insects selected by writers on the subject are those in which colour is most prominent and structure least differentiated.

R. McLachlan


C. Blinderman & D. Joyce
Clark University