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THE SAVING OF VANISHING DATA.

In a letter to S. D. Sharp, dated Lihue, Kauai, July 21, 1896, Mr. Perkins states:

This place has been a dead failure. The country where I camped here was a low-lying, densely-covered forest hog-land, at first sight a paradise for Carabidæ (ground beetles), and differing from any other place known to me. Its fauna is entirely lost forever. I turned during my stay thousands of lop, any one of which at 4,000 feet would have yielded Carabidæ. Of all these there was not a single one under which Pheidole megacephala had not a nest, and I never beat a tree without this ant coming down in scores.

This is an introduced ant which is overrunning the islands, and which exterminates the native insect fauna. Mr. Perkins finds that earwigs alone can withstand this ant, and his only chance of collection of endemic insects is to get ahead of the ant. In the 'Report' for 1900 it is stated that on his return from a visit to England Mr. Perkins found that great changes had taken place in the islands during his absence, and that the forests were being extensively destroyed and replaced by sugar-cane. The grants by the British Association have been supplemented by grants from the Government Grant Committee administered by the Royal Society, and from the trustees of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Eight parts of the three volumes intended to form the 'Fauna Hawaiiensis' have now been published and others are in the press. The inception of this investigation was due to Professor Alfred Newton, and if he had not persisted until he succeeded, comparatively little would ever have been known about the fauna of the Hawaiian islands.

In a communication to Nature[1] Mr. Perkins says that few countries have been more plagued by the importation of insect pests than the Hawaiian Islands; in none have such extraordinary results followed the introduction of beneficial species to destroy them, of the effect of which he gives many instances. He goes on to say:

Why has the success of the imported beneficial insects been so pronounced here, while in other countries it has been attained in a comparatively small measure? The reason, I think, is sufficiently obvious. The same causes which have led to the rapid spread and excessive multiplication of injurious introductions, have operated equally on the beneficial ones that prey upon them. The remote position of the islands and the consequently limited fauna, giving free scope for increase to new arrivals, the general absence of creatures injurious to the introduced beneficial species, and the equality of the climate, allowing of almost continuous breeding, may well afford results which could hardly be attained elsewhere on the globe. The keen struggle for existence of continental lands is comparatively non-existent, and, so far as it exists, is rather brought about by the introduced fauna than by the native one.

To this Mr. Howard adds:


  1. Nature, March 25, 1897, p. 499.