A great contribution to Russian and world entomology was made by Grigorii Efimovich Grumm-Grshimailo, a prominent lepidopterist, traveller, geographer and ethnographer. He was born in St. Petersburg, and his interest in entomology appeared when he was a student and worked on the problem of phylloxera in the Crimean vineyards of N. Y. Danilewsky. At an age of 21, he published his first scientific work entitled 'A few words on the Lepidoptera of the Crimea' (1882, volume 8 of the 'Proceedings of the Russian Entomological Society'). Soon he was elected a collaborator member of the RES. Upon his return from the Crimea to St. Petersburg in 1881, Grumm-Grshimailo started a treatment of his entomological collections. For comparative purposes, he used the collection of the St. Petersburg Museum, following an advice of Professor M. N. Bogdanov, the then scientific curator at the museum. Since that time on, Grumm-Grshimailo became attached to the St. Petersburg Museum, where he donated much of his own collections and treated a lot of entomological material from the expeditions of N. M. Przewalsky, G. N. Potanin, P. P. Semenov-Tian-Shanskij and other explorers of Central Asia.
In 1882, G. E. Grumm-Grshimailo studied Lepidoptera in Bessarabia and in the Podolsk region in the middle Dnestr flow. All material from that expedition was donated to and treated by himself at the Zoological Museum of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. Simultaneously, he determined the material that I. Svyatsky had collected at Narva in 1882. Already in his first works concerning the lepidopteran faunas of the Crimea, Bessarabia and Baltic, Grumm-Grshimailo showed himself as a gifted entomologist and zoogeographer.
His 1883 summer vacation Grumm-Grshimailo spent studying the Lepidoptera of the central Volga region. Living not far away from the town of Saratov, he collected mainly near Sarepta, reaching Kamyshin to the south. At Sarepta, he met the famous German collector and patient hunter Ruekbeil, working for the Tankre Trade Company in Anklam. Ruekbeil supplied that company with various animals, including insects: butterflies, moths and beetles. To diversify and enrich his collections, Ruekbeil organised several interesting expeditions to some inner parts of Asia, bringing back enormous lots of zoological material. Perhaps it was conversing with Ruekbeil that made Grumm-Grshimailo think more and more of exploring Middle and Central Asia.
When back to St. Petersburg, he started treating his Sarepta material. The work was over by November 1883. At about the same, Grumm-Grshimailo got acquainted with Grand Duke N. M. Romanoff, who suggested that Grumm-Grshimailo published the results of his studies in the first volume of the 'Memoires sur les Lepidopteres.' This fact predetermined much of further activities of Grumm-Grshimailo. The Grand Duke, taking interest in the young lepidopterist, promised to render his support to an expedition to the theretofore very poorly explored Pamir region, on condition that some part of the Lepidoptera material came at the disposal of N.M. Romanov. Grumm-Grshimailo was eager to take part in such a trip and was ready to make any sacrifices for its sake. He had to pass his student's exams before the appointed time and to reject the honour of being left at the Chair of Invertebrate Zoology of the St. Petersburg University, as proposed by his teachers, professors N. P. Wagner and N. A. Menshutkin. 'He was bursting to go there, to the mountains, scantily explored, mysterious, to the places where Przewalsky had obtained his second motherland, to the places where virgin nature was still alive in all its beauty, inviolability and grandeur.' Having graduated as a Candidate in Natural Sciences, Grumm-Grshimailo started preparing for the expedition. I. V. Mushketov, D. L. Ivanov and V. F. Oshanin, personally familiar with the Pamirs, took part in designing the route.
The dreams of Grumm-Grshimailo came true. During many years he participated in exciting, very fruitful expeditions, exploring several unknown regions of Middle Asia and China.
At the end of the winter of 1884, Grumm-Grshimailo left St. Petersburg and reached Osh in two months. From there his expedition, which also included four escort Cossacks of the Orenburg regiment, started on 20 May to the west, via the village of Vuadil at the foothills of the Alai Mt. Range, and along the Aksu River toward Pass Kara-Kazyk toward the Alai Valley. In the middle of July, Grumm-Grshimailo ascended from the foothills of the Transalai Mt. Range, via Pass Tersagarsky, to the upper reaches of Muksu River, trying to reach Fedtschenko's glacier. However, because of bad weather, he had to get back to the northern slopes of the Transalai Mts. in the Alai Valley, went to the east to Pass Kyzylart and, having passed it, he proceeded to the south to Lake Karakul in the northeast of the Pamirs. That was the most distant point of the expedition's route. Then the expedition started its way back and reached Osh on 20 August.
The results of the first Pamirs expedition of Grumm-Grshimailo were very considerable. He collected a very rich lepidopterological material, which numbered about 12,000 specimens of 146 species, including 30 new to science. Carried away with the diversity and novelty of the lepidopteran fauna of the Alai and Pamirs, inspired by the rich material collected, he decided not to return to St. Petersburg, but to continue the travel upon a new route next year. Grumm-Grshimailo spent all the autumn and winter of 1884 determining the material and writing reports. The preliminary results of his lepidopterological research were published in the second volume of the 'Memoires sur les Lepidopteres,' issued in 1885.
Having coordinated the route of the second expedition with N. M. Romanoff, he received considerable support both from the Grand Duke and the Geographical Society. The most important fact was that the Russian Geographical Society had agreed with N. O. Rosenbach, the Turkestan Governor General, that the expedition staff would include Captain G. E. Rodionov as topographer, two preparators and 11 escort Cossacks. The second Pamirs expedition started on 29 March 1885, from Samarkand and was over on 9 August of the same year. In the five months involved, Grumm-Grshimailo managed to visit the Karateghin and Darvaz, as well as several montane and/or semi-steppe territories of the Bukhara Khanate: Ghissar, Kulyab, Beldzhuan, Shakhrisiabz, Karshi, Guzara, Shirabad, Kabadian, Kurgan-Tyube.
The results of the second expedition surpassed all expectations. The entomological collections managed by the expedition numbered over 20,000 specimens of insects, mainly Lepidoptera, and included a large number of new species and forms.
A part of that material was treated by Grumm-Grshimailo already in 1886, with the results published in the 'Memoires sur les Lepidopteres' (vol. 3, 1887). Some other parts of the same material were used by S. N. Alpheraky and G. K. Christoph for their works. Besides the entomological material, a large collection of animals and birds was donated to the Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences.
After this expedition, Grumm-Grshimailo was elected an acting member of the Geographical Society and decorated with a silver medal; P. P. Semenov-Tian-Shanskij began to patronise him. In the end of the winter of 1886, the indefatigable Grumm-Grshimailo started preparations for a new Pamirs expedition, that time to the so-called Inner Tian-Shan. The mission of the third expedition was, based on lepidopterological material, to carry out comparative zoogeographical research to determine a faunal connection between the Pamirs-Alai and Tian-Shan. This expedition was organised under the auspices of the Geographical Society, but the main investment was again made by N. M. Romanoff.
Osh was again the starting point. The route of 1886 first went to the northeast along the Kara-Darya, via Pass Kugart, then up along the Naryn valley to the Narynsky Fortress (now the town of Naryn), and from there to the south toward At-Bashi and further to the southwest along the broad valley of At-Bashi River, by the At-Bashi Mt. Range, along the old caravan Great Silk Route to Tash-Rabat and Lake Chatyr-Kel. Having passed the lake over the eastern bank and, later, crossed Pass Turugart into the territory of western China, the expedition spent a few days in Kashgar putting the collections in order. From Kashgar the travellers went, via Pass Irkeshtam. along the valley of Kyzyl-Su River toward the foothills of the Transalai Mt. Range and further, via passes Kauk and Kichik-Alai, along the Kichik-Alai Valley back to Osh.
As a result of the third expedition, Grumm-Grshimailo showed that the lepidopteran fauna of the Pamirs and the Pamirs-Alai, on the one hand, differed considerably from that of the Tian-Shan, on the other hand, and the former was very close to that of the Hindu Kush region. Over 10,000 insects were collected during that expedition, Lepidoptera composing the bulk, again with a substantial number of new species discovered. A report about the expedition was made in the end of September 1886 during one of the sessions of the Geographical Society.
In 1887, Grumm-Grshimailo visited the Pamirs once again. This time he wanted to get into the central part of the area. The expedition was organised by the Geographical Society with financial support of Count S. D. Sheremetiev. Grigorii Efimovich was accompanied in the expedition by his brother Mikhail Efimovich, an officer. The expedition reached Lake Karakul in the Pamirs and went to the southwest toward the Kudara Valley. Having gone for a sideways excursion to the upper reaches of Tanymas River, the expedition discovered an unknown group of glaciers and named it after Sheremetiev, the sponsor of the expedition. Then the expedition went to the east toward the Murgab Valley, but the flooded river made the travellers change their route and move further to the east by Shorkul Lake, via the Sarykolsky Mts., and then to the south, within western China, toward Tashkurgan at the foothills of the Kunlun. In the long run, the expedition reached the Muztag Mts. at the foothills of the main Karakorum and almost got to the upper reaches the Vakhan-Darya. From there Grumm-Grshimailo had to turn backwards, having received an order of the Russian Consul General in Kashgar from a Chinese patrol. The exhausted members of the expedition had very little food but, withstanding various hardships, they started carving their way back to the north along the Aksu Valley and further toward the Murgab. By 17 August, the expedition got back to Osh.
The fourth expedition enabled Grumm-Grshimailo to get acquainted with the fauna of the eastern Pamirs and to again collect a rich geographical, geological and ethnographic material.
In 1888, at his own expense he undertook a trip to the Middle Urals with a zoogeographical mission. Starting the explorations from Zlatoust in the south he finished the tip at the latitude of Irbit.
A part of the entomological material of Grumm-Grshimailo was passed on to N. M. Romanoff's collection, the other part was yet retained and used for comparative purposes for the preparation of a monograph on the lepidopteran fauna of the Pamirs. The results of his taxonomic and zoogeographical studies in the Lepidoptera he had collected during all four Pamirs expeditions were summed up in a monograph entitled 'Novae species et varietates Rhopalocerorum e Pamir,' published in the 'Proceedings of the Russian Entomological Society' (vol. 22, 1888).
The first four chapters of the book were dedicated to the description of the geography and geology of the Pamirs and Pamirs-Alai. In the fifth chapter, Grumm-Grshimailo considered Pamir ecology, flora and fauna, with Lepidoptera given the main emphasis, pointing out a number of physiographical factors affecting their distributions. He was the first to divide the Pamir lepidopterofauna into several groups according to the typical habitats: alpine meadows, meadows, forests, stony screes, gorges, upland deserts, upland steppes, and valleys. Due to a great variety of landscapes and biotopes, the lepidopteran list of the Pamirs was shown to be very diverse, already then numbering 119 endemic species or subspecies.
A special chapter contained information about the region's 200 species and 32 genera of Rhopalocera as well as about 92 species of Heterocera, including 80 species of Sphingidae (34 genera) and 12 species of Bombycidae (6 genera). Very many of these were first discovered and described by Grumm-Grshimailo.
In spite of its exceptionally interesting contents and very rich practical material, the publication was met by several specialists, as Grumm-Grshimailo wrote in 1920 in a letter to A. P. Semenov-Tian-Shanskij, with '... smiles of doubt about the fruitfulness of the method used in it.' Without proving the statements made in the book wrong, they simply ignored it. Apparently, this was partly due to the fact that it was written in French and, thus, not too popular among many Russian lepidopterists.
In 1889-1890, Grumm-Grshimailo made one more, most famous collecting trip to the eastern Tian-Shan and Nan-Shan, western China. The route and results of the expedition were later described in his three-volume monograph entitled 'Description of a travel to western China,' published in 1896-1907. Among an invaluable material of natural history objects taken by the expedition, the most outstanding was a tremendous entomological collection numbering over 35,000 specimens and consisting mainly of Lepidoptera. Coming back to St. Petersburg in 1891, Grumm-Grshimailo together with his colleagues started arranging an identification work. Some Coleoptera were treated by A. P. Semenov-Tian-Shanskij, Noctuidae and Geometridae by S. N. Alpheraky, Rhopalocera and as well as Sphingidae and Bombycidae by Grumm-Grshimailo himself, etc. In 1893-1894, in the 'Proceedings of the Russian Entomological Society' he published another large zoogeographical work, 'Lepidoptera palaearctica nova,' in three parts. It included the description of 47 new Palaearctic species or forms of Lepidoptera, bringing in also material collected by other entomologists in western Siberia, Altais, Middle Asia, western Tian-Shan, Hindu Kush, Himalaya, Pyrenees, Canada, etc.
At the same time, Grumm-Grshimailo published his paper entitled 'Verzeichniss der von D. D. Glasunov 1892 im Gebiete des Serafschan-Thales und in der Wuester Kisil-kum gesammelten Lepidopteren,' issued in the 'Proceedings of the Russian Entomological Society' (vol. 28), where he treated 120 species and forms of Lepidoptera collected by another Russian expedition to the Zeravshan Valley and Kyzylkum Desert.
In 1899, the first part of Grumm-Grshimailo's 'Lepidoptera nova vel parum cognita regionis Palaearcticae' was published, while the second part appeared in 1902. To effectuate this huge zoogeographical and taxonomic work, he had analysed much of the highly abundant material on Lepidoptera then kept in the Zoological Museum in St. Petersburg, including the collections made by A. L. Czekanowsky in basins of the lower flow of Tunguska (1873), Olenek (1874) and Lena (1875) rivers, by A. A. Bunge and E. V. Toll in the Yana Valley (1875), by I. D. Chersky in the valley of Kolyma River (1892), by L. I. Borodovsky in the mountains of Bolshoy Khingan and In-Shan (1891), by N. M. Przewalsky in the mountains of Mongolia (1871), by R. K. Maack in the Vilyui Valley (1853), by E. F. Menetries in the Urals, by G. E. Grumm-Grshimailo in the Maritime Province (1893), by Kutsenko in the central Tian-Shan (1901), by M. M. Berezovsky in the Szechuan Province of China (1885), by D. N. Kashkarov in the valley of Kerulen River in Mongolia (1894), by B. A. Fedtschenko in the valley of Gunt River in the Pamirs (1901), by O. Herz in the valley of Sumbar River in Turkmenia (1894), and others. In this work, Grumm-Grshimailo described 36 new species or forms of Lepidoptera.
One of his latest lepidopterological papers was published in 1907. In the third volume of the above 'Description of a travel to western China,' the last two chapters contained a zoogeographical analysis which was the result of the author's study of the lepidopterofauna of the eastern Tian-Shan and northeastern outcrops of Tibet. Thus, he considered not only his own material, but all data known at the time on the Lepidoptera of northeastern Tibet and eastern Tian-Shan, collected during the expeditions of N. M. Przewalsky, G. N. Potanin and Count Szecsenyi. He gave a long list of Lepidoptera (120 species of Rhopalocera alone) in the faunas of Kansu Province and neighbouring regions; he compared them with those of other nine provinces, ranging from the southeast of Russia to Manchuria, and marked the natural habitats of common and endemic forms.
In a separate chapter, Grumm-Grshimailo proposed some highly important generalizations concerning the zoogeography of the region, with special emphasis on the fauna of Kansu Province. Based also on the orography, climate, and vegetation, Grumm-Grshimailo discriminated the eastern Tian-Shan lepidopteran fauna (bordering the central Tian-Shan fauna) from both West Tibetan fauna (bordering with that of the Pamirs) and East Tibetan, or Kansu, fauna. The latter was shown to be '... most closely related to the faunas of the Altai-Sayan region, Manchuria and Tian-Shan, the last case dependent on the fact that the Tian-Shan fauna comprises a certain number of Siberian species. Many Siberian species populated the Tian-Shan in geologically recent times, as a considerable share have not yet managed to become separate species. Apparently, the spread of Siberian Lepidoptera from the Altais to the south went mainly not westward, via the Tarbagatai and Ala-Tau mountains, but eastward, via the Adzhi-bogdo, Yeren-nura, Nomsky Hills, Megin-Ola and Karlik-Tag.' According to Grumm-Grshimailo, in the post-Pliocene epoch, there was a direct connection between the Altai and Nan-Shan, with a complete disruption of northeastern Tibet from the bordering territories in the west, south, and east. He wrote: 'A characteristic feature of the Kansu fauna is not only the predominance of Siberian invaders but also the absence of many families and genera penetrating far to the west, east and south... ' and further, '... undoubtedly, at the time when the Kansu fauna was being forming, the autochthons of the country also become its members.' The last chapter of this work is dedicated to an analysis of the autochthons. The existing representatives of the genus Parnassius in this case, according to Grumm-Grshimailo, ought to be firmly considered as autochthons of northeastern Tibet.
'It's only natural that, upon publication of this book, Grigorii Efimovich was impatiently waiting for the critics of entomologists, wishing to check himself and the conclusions be had made as a result of his long-term work. But it never came.' In his letter to A. P. Semenov-Tian-Shanskij, of 27 February 1920, Grigorii Efimovich wrote: '... I have produced a work, which has been attested by foreign lepidopterists (Deckert, Honrath, Wiskott and others) in their letters to me as being not only outstanding but also classical when it comes to the analysis of a fauna. You yourself have considered the last chapters of volume III of the 'Description of a travel to western China' to deserve a notice in the press, you were even going to 'note' them, but it never happened, to my regret... The inattentiveness of our lepidopterists to my work was the first reason why I grew grown cold towards the Entomological Society... I was still young at the time! ... Now I would have treated this affair absolutely indifferently, bearing in mind that I have done my part of work: feci quod potui. And if not now, than after some time my work will be appreciated at its true value.'
The real reasons for G. E. Grumm-Grshimailo's 'growing cold' towards entomology are not clear enough and hardly lie in the inattentiveness of scientists to his works. As we can see from his contemporaries' memoirs, he was a man of outstanding, freedom-loving personality and, owing to this, he had occasional conflicts with his colleagues. The main reason why Grumm-Grshimailo gave up entomology was perhaps a conflict with the main sponsor of his expeditions, Grand Duke N. M. Romanoff. As is generally known, one of the terms of his financing the expeditions was that the material collected be passed to Romanov's collection. But G. E. Grumm-Grshimailo started to actively work as a scientist entomologist and thus could not do without his own, private collection. A considerable number of specimens from it were exchanged by Grumm-Grshimailo for material of other renown lepidopterists of the time. As a result, many syntypes of Grumm-Grshimailo surfaced in the collections of A. Deckert, C. Oberthuer, W. Rothschild and other foreign lepidopterists. Apparently, the demand of N. M. Romanoff to pass all material on to him was one of the reasons for breaking their relations, the echoes of which can be found in letters of G. E. Grumm-Grshimailo to his friends. The 'giving up' could have also been provoked by the event which hurt Grigorii Efimovich's pride: on the 50th anniversary of the RES in 1910, his achievements in entomology remained unmentioned, and in 1912 he was still an ordinary member of the RES.
With further accusations of embezzling material and the growing financial difficulties made G. E. Grumm-Grshimailo sell a part of the collection to H. J. Elwes, whose acquaintance he had made during the latter's trip to the western Altais in 1898. Together with Elwes's collection, many syntypes named by G. E. Grumm-Grshimailo were finally deposited in the London Museum, where they are still available. The other part of Grumm-Grshimailo's collection is currently housed in the Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences, together with N. M. Romanoff's collection, but this part is very little. For example, the Romanov Collection harbours not a single type specimen of Parnassius taken and described by Grumm-Grshimailo. The question of the morals of this bargain is difficult to answer, but after it the relations between G. E. Grumm-Grshimailo and most of Russian entomologists apparently got spoiled, probably the main reason for his giving up entomology after some time.
His last lepidopterological work was published in 1911 in the Papers of the Troitsko-Kyahtinsky Department of the Geographical Society. It was dedicated to the fauna of Lepidoptera collected near the town of Troitskosavsk and in northern Mongolia.