Art. III.—Note on the Distribution of some Australasian Collembola.
[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 7th November, 1900.]
Some years ago I sent specimens of some large Collembola, collected in Tasmania and New Zealand, to Sir John Lubbock (Lord Avebury), who kindly examined them and published descriptions of them in the “Proceedings of the Linnæan Society of London” (Zoology, vol. 27, p. 334). Unfortunately, a slight error seems to have crept in with regard to the
locality from which one of the species was obtained, and it is with a view to rectifying this error, and at the same time extending our knowledge of the distribution and calling the attention of New Zealand zoologists to the subject, that the present note is written.
Lord Avebury distinguished three species in the collection, which he named Anoura tasmaniæ, Anoura dendyi, and Anoura spinosa. Each of these is said to come from Tasmania in the specific diagnosis, but the introductory paragraph mentions New Zealand and Tasmania. I believe the first two are really Tasmanian and the last New Zealand.
Anoura spinosa, indeed, which may be readily recognised from the description and figures, appears to be very widely distributed in New Zealand, but I have no recollection of seeing it in Tasmania. Last summer I obtained about a dozen specimens near Lake Te Anau and one at Milford Sound, and in July last Professor Wall obtained a specimen near Auckland. For the information of local collectors, I may mention that it is a small, soft-bodied, wingless insect, somewhat oval in shape, and about ⅕ in. long, of a bluish-grey colour, with numerous short yellow spines on the back and a pair of short antennæ in front.* On the lower surface are three pairs of short legs, followed by a pair of fleshy-looking sucker-like organs. It lives in rotten wood, and, though widely distributed, is by no means abundant. It is of interest as an unusually large representative of a group of insects of an extremely primitive character, the study of which may throw much light upon the ancestral history of insects in general.
For further information on this group the reader is referred to Sir John Lubbock's well-known monograph on the Collembola and Thysanura, published by the Ray Society. The investigation of these animals in New Zealand can hardly fail to yield valuable results.
[Footnote] * In all the specimens which I now have in my possession the spines on the antennæ are obsolete, though indications of them may sometimes be seen.