image EL_L2_44_Fig
Image number: RS.15776
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Anatomy of a flea


15 October 1693


Unknown, Artist

Object type

Archive reference number

Manuscript page number




height (page): 242mm
width (page): 375mm



20 figures attached to a printed letter from Antoni van Leeuwenhoek to the Royal Society.

Fig. 1: larva of a flea, on its back
Fig. 2: egg of a flea with larva inside
Fig. 3: egg of a flea after the larva left
Fig. 4: pupa of the flea
Fig. 5: sloughed skin of the flea-worm
Fig. 6: pupa as far as draftsman was able to depict it
Fig. 7: body of the flea after it had just been killed
Fig. 8: horns on the head, and sheath of the sting
Fig. 9: stings and sheath
Fig. 10: stings and sheath of a third flea
Fig. 11: the whole hind leg of a flea
Fig. 12: the male organ of the flea
Fig. 13: detail of P and Q in fig. 12
Fig. 14: the male organ in a flea
Fig. 15: part of the abdomen of a female flea
Fig. 16: abdomen of a male flea
Fig. 17: the head and three joints of a flea-worm
Fig. 18: four terminal joints of the same flea-worm
Fig. 19: copulation of male and female flea
Fig. 20: a culture glass for fleas.

Object history

Leeuwenhoek did not send an autograph letter with drawings to the Royal Society, but a printed copy and an engraving (see Alle de brieven van Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, ed. by a committee of Dutch scientists, 17 vols [ongoing] (Amsterdam: Swets & Zeitlinger, 1939- ), IX (1976), 207n1).

13 December 1693, 'a Letter of Mr Leeuwenhoeck, which came with a printed account of severall observations of his upon the parts, and propagation of fleas, was produced, and ordered to be gotten translated' (JBO/9/146).

The letter and illustrations also appeared in:
A. van Leeuwenhoek, Vierde Vervolg der Brieven (Delft: H. van Kroonevelt, 1693), pp. 533-72.
A. van Leeuwenhoek, Arcana Naturae Detecta (Delft: H. a Krooneveld, 1695), pp. 350-76.

Related Fellows

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723, Dutch), Naturalist

Associated place

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