Pierre André Latreille

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Pierre André Latreille : biography

November 29, 1762 – February 6, 1833

Thereafter, Latreille lived as a teacher and corresponded with various entomologists, including Fabricius. In 1796, and with Fabricius’ encouragement, Latreille published his ‘ at his own expense. He was briefly placed under house arrest in 1797, and his books were confiscated, but the influence of Georges Cuvier, Bernard Germain de Lacépède and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (who all held chairs of zoology at the recently instituted ‘) succeeded in freeing Latreille. In 1798, Latreille was appointed to the museum, where he worked alongside Lamarck, curating the arthropod collections, and published a number of zoological works.

First Empire

Following the death of Guillaume-Antoine Olivier in 1814, Latreille succeeded him as titular member of the ‘. In the following few years, Latreille was especially productive, producing important papers for the ‘, all of the volume on arthropods for George Cuvier’s ‘ ("The animal kingdom"), and hundreds of entries in the ‘ on entomological subjects. As Lamarck became blind, Latreille took on an increasing proportion of his teaching and research work. In 1821, Latreille was made a knight of the ‘. In 1829 he succeeded Lamarck as professor of entomology.

Later years

From 1824, Latreille’s health deteriorated. He handed his lectures over to Jean Victoire Audouin and took on several assistants for his research work, including Amédée Louis Michel Lepeletier, Jean Guillaume Audinet-Serville and Félix Édouard Guérin-Méneville. He was instrumental in the founding of the ‘, and served as its honorary president.

Latreille’s wife became ill in 1830 and died in May of that year; the date of Latreille’s marriage is unclear, and his request to be released from his vow of celibacy was never acknowledged. He resigned his position at the museum on April 10, 1832, in order to move to the country and thereby avoid the cholera epidemic. He returned to Paris in November, and died of bladder disease on February 6, 1833. He had no children but was survived by a niece whom he had adopted.

Commemoration

The ‘ raised the money to pay for a monument to Latreille. This was erected over Latreille’s grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery, and comprised a obelisk with various inscriptions, including one to the beetle which had saved Latreille’s life: "" ("Necrobia ruficollis, Latreille’s saviour").

As testimony to the high esteem in which Latreille was held, many books were dedicated to him, and up to 163 species were named in his honour between 1798 and 1850. Taxa commemorating Latreille include:

  • Lumbrineris latreilli Audouin & H. Milne-Edwards, 1833
  • Cecrops latreillii Leach, 1816
  • Apseudes latreillii (H. Milne-Edwards, 1828)
  • Orbinia latreillii (Audouin & H. Milne-Edwards, 1833)
  • Latreillia Roux, 1830
  • Cilicaea latreillei Leach, 1818
  • Bittium latreillii (Payraudeau, 1826)
  • Macrophthalmus latreillei (Desmarest, 1822)
  • Eurypodius latreillei Guérin, 1828