Miscellaneous Adventures: Unpublished Larval Notes and Sketches

View of Record Unit 7399 - Hahn William Capps Papers, 1939-1964, Box 1, Folder Miscellaneous Larval

Frederick M. Bayer's Larval Notes, Page 1. Record Unit 7399, Smithsonian Institution Archives. Image

For our next Miscellaneous Adventure, you voted to open Record Unit 7399 – Hahn William Capps Papers, 1939-1964, Box 1, Folder Miscellaneous Larval Notes, Sketches, etc. (Unpublished). This folder is pretty thin, so I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I first opened it thinking it was going to be a bust. However, tucked between other miscellaneous notes, I discovered what I was hoping to find: a set of notes with hand-drawn larval sketches.

Hanh Willam Capps was an Entomologist with the United States Department of Agriculture from 1938 to 1964 and primarily focused on the study of Lepidoptera. While this folder came from his papers, the set of notes I found particularly interesting were actually written by Frederick M. Bayer. Bayer was a curator at the National Museum of Natural History, and a marine biologist who specialized in the study of soft corals, which makes his notes about caterpillars even most interesting. Also, attached to the notes was a memorandum from Austin H. Clark suggesting that the notes were worth keeping because it was the only known description of the early stages of this particular species in Florida. 

Frederick Bayer’s notes that were found in this particular folder appear to be written about a month before his 17th birthday in his hometown of Riviera, Florida. The notes cover the early life cycle of a Florida species of caterpillar, and are very detailed. They start with date and time information for when and where the egg was initially deposited, as well as a description of the egg itself. Once the larva begins to emerge, Bayer describes its length and color, and he includes a sketch of the larva. He continues his accounts through the molting stages with the descriptions and drawings becoming lengthier and more detailed each time. Bayer ends his notes with a drawing of the chrysalis.

Frederick M. Bayer's Larval Notes, Page 4. Record Unit 7399, Smithsonian Institution Archives. Image

To see what other miscellaneous mysteries exist in our collections, comment below, or message us on Facebook or Twitter to:

Vote Folder A  for Record Unit 7388, Oscar Ling Cartwright Papers, 1929-1979 and undated, Box 16, Miscellaneous Reports, Publications, and Photographs, 1951-1979 (2 folders)


Vote Folder B for Record Unit 351, National Air and Space Museum, Photographs, 1922-1958, 1963-1966, Box 1, Folder Miscellaneous Photographs

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