Papers.—1. “Notes on Coleoptera,” by Mr. J. H. Lewis. (Transactions, p. 201.).
The author explained tha, with the exception of moths and butterflies, none of the orders of insects occurring in New Zealand could be considered to be catalogued in even a moderately satisfactory manner. The most extensive order, that of Coleoptera was in almost as bad a state as any, for although much had been done and a long list of species published, yet the number of coleopterous insects occurring here was so great and the students so few that it would be many generations before all the forms were described. Description, though a dry and tedious process, was a needful preliminary to the elucidation of the problems connected with distribution and variation, whic were the most attractive portions of the study of natural history. As in other orders so among beetles, the male insect was often different in form from the female. Not sufficient cognizance had been taken of this fact, except where the describer of a species had himself been able to study the insects in their homes, or where he had attached some weight to the observations of the field naturalist who had collected for him. Some results of this were evident in Captain Broun's list The frequent description of identical species in New Zealand and England would not cause so much trouble, as in most instances the identity was obvious. It was not for him to attempt to criticize the work of the able naturalist who had for a quarter of a century studied this order, but the reflection suggested itself that the larger genera might very well be tabulated by the only one who was at present in a position to do so. Was it too hazardous to say that when a table could not be prepared, then the species were not distinct? He had tabulated some families with much advantage to himself, but he was not anxious to publish his work while Captain Broun was able to do the same thing in a more accurate manner.
The President said that Mr. Lewis, who for the past ten years had been doing valuble work in his special department of entomology, was too modest in his claims, and he hoped that the resuults of his tabulations, so far as they had gone, would be published. There was a vast amount of this work to be done, and no naturalist could claim any prescriptive rights in the field of scientific research.