Treatise on the Flora and Fauna of Virginia
Original Author: John Banister; copy possibly by Robert Beverley
Created: Seventeenth century
Medium: Manuscript page
Publisher: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Treatise on the Flora and Fauna of Virginia

In this early, handwritten copy of "Treatise on the Flora and Fauna of Virginia" (1680), the naturalist John Banister describes wasps breeding their young in a multi-chambered nest made of dirt: "There is not above two Wasps belonging to one of these vesparyes [sic]; for when they have made one Cell; and put into it Six or eight live spiders, they close it up and worke upon another; leaving them to Brood upon their Young …" Though Banister never completed his planned comprehensive natural history of Virginia, his writings were among the first scientific accounts of the region's plants, insects, and mollusks, and his observations were used by European naturalists in their published works on North American plants and animals.