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Biographical entry Lea, Arthur Mills (1868 - 1932)

10 August 1868
Surry Hills, New South Wales, Australia
29 February 1932
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


Arthur Lea was an entomologist whose main interest was in beetles, particularly weevils. His early career was largely concerned with economic entomology although his principle interest was in taxonomy. His published output included many revisionary papers in which he described more than 5400 new species of Coleoptera. Many Australian entomologists sent specimens to him for identification and naming. Lea was Government Entomologist for the Western Australian and Tasmanian Governments before joining the South Australian Museum. He enjoyed a world-wide reputation as an economic entomologist from his work in Tasmania on the control of Codlin Moth and other pests, and for the South Australian Weevil Commission for which he developed a method of protecting from insect pests the wheat that had accumulated during WWI. In 1924 he was engaged by the Government of Fiji to investigate ways of controlling coconut moth. A collection of his Coleoptera specimens was donated in 1929 to the CSIRO Division of Economic Entomology. To the South Australian Museum Lea bequeathed a large and diverse collection of beetles from all over Australia and off-shore islands.



1891 - 1895
Career position - Assistant Entomologist, New South Wales Department of Agriculture
1895 - 1899
Career position - Government Entomologist, Western Australian Department of Agriculture
1897 - 1932
Career position - Fellow, Royal Society of South Australia
1899 - 1911
Career position - Government Entomologist, Tasmanian Department of Agriculture
1911 - 1923
Career position - Consulting Entomologist, South Australian Department of Agriculture
1911 - 1932
Career position - Entomologist, South Australian Institute
1912 - 1924
Career position - Lecturer in Forest Entomology, University of Adelaide
1923 - 1932
Career position - Member of Council, Royal Society of South Australia

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Archival resources

Private hands (Gellie, C.L.)

  • Arthur Mills Lea - Records, 1868 - 1932; Private hands (Gellie, C.L.). Details

Published resources


  • Musgrave, A., Bibliography of Australian Entomology, 1775-1930 (Sydney: Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales., 1932), 380 pp. Details

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • Hale, H. M., 'Obituary and Bibliography of A. M. Lea.', Records of the South Australian Museum, 4 (1932), 411-432. Details
  • Hale, Herbert M., 'Obituary notice: Arthur Mills Lea', Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 56 (1932), 1-2. Details
  • Mathews, E. G., 'A bibliography of Arthur Mills Lea (1868 - 1932)', Australian Entomological Society News Bulletin, 21 (1985), 7-21. Details
  • Musgrave, A., 'Arthur Mills Lea', Australian Museum Magazine, 4 (1932), 342. Details
  • Walker, J. J., 'Arthur Mills Lea, F.E.S.', Entomologist's Monthly Magazine, 73 (1932), 165-6. Details
  • Wilson, F. Erasmus, 'Arthur Mills Lea', Victorian Naturalist, 49 (1932), 15-8. Details


McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn