Pierre André Latreille 1762-1833

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Pierre André Latreille

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Grave of Latreille at the Cimitiere du Pere
Lachaise in the eastern part of Paris.


Latreille’s education was partly provincial and partly aristocratic, which led him to become a priest although he really preferred entomology.  He abandoned the priesthood in his 20s and gradually established a relationship with the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.  During the French revolution, he was imprisoned in Bordeaux but obtained his freedom by finding a new species of beetle in his cell and having it delivered to naturalist friends who succeeded in getting him released. Sonnini collaborated with him on the Histoire Naturelle Générale et Particulière des Crustacés et des Insectes (14 volumes, 1802-1805), and Olivier entrusted him with entries in his Encylcopédie Méthodique Entomologie (1812).  Latreille began to publish on his own, and his masterpiece was the Genera Crustaceorum et Insectorum (4 volumes, 1806-1809).

Latreille wrote the obituary for Johann Fabricius in 1808.  In November 1814, Latreille succeeded Olivier as Titular Member of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France in the Zoology section.  His career was extremely productive during the following decade as he became fully associated with the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle.  He was the first to introduce the concept of a “family.”  In 1821, he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. 

Beginning in 1824. Latreille was often ill.  In order to complete publication of volume 10 of his Encylcopédie Méthodique Entomologie, he depended on the help of Lepeletier, Serville, and Guérin-Méneville.  During the last three years of his life, Latreille received formal recognition of his many achievements.   He presided over the inaugural meeting of the Societé Entomologique de France, the first of its kind in the world.  After escaping the cholera epidemic of 1832 in Paris, he returned from the country to his lodgings in the Museum where he died of bladder disease the following year, on 6 February 1833.


Dupuis, C.  1974.  Pierre André Latreille  (1762-1833): the foremost entomologist of his time.  Annual Review of Entomology 1974: 1-13.


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