I am in Delhi for Diwali, and walking around just trying to observe this city I used to call home many years ago. If you have not been here lately; this is what outside my house looked like on an average day.
And in this hustle and bustle (and honking); we forget to notice the little things. Little things so surprising that your mind goes; what did I just see!! I was walking looking for tiny ants; and I caught one tiny ant. But next to it; I saw what looked like an ant; but – out of its butt a very long hair like protrusion came out. I happen to have known about ovipositors in some wasp families; but this ant like insect was smaller that a dot on your screen. I did not believe my eyes; and carefully caught it (holding on to the ovipositor). Here is what I saw under a 5X magnification lens; wasp vs ant.
If you look carefully, the ovipositor is almost 5 to 10 times longer than the insect itself. How does such a tiny insect fly with a giant ovipositor. I intend to find out; but before that – let’s put this little wasp under a foldscope. This is 140x magnification; collected on the latest version of Foldscope.
Foldscope users often ask how I image live insects under a foldscope without crushing them. I use spacer slides provided in the kit. Here I stacked two of the spacer paper slides; put on top of a glass slide (also provided in the new kit); and close with a cover slip. Just put simple tape to seal the chamber and you can observe anything for long periods of time without crushing the organism. This is specially very useful for bigger organisms.
This is a remarkable insect. Firstly, it’s around 500 microns or so; indeed very small but a giant ovipositor (an organ used to deposit eggs by females). You can see the strange shape of the mouth as well.
Reading more based on my hunch that this is a small wasp; I was lead to the conclusion that this is a “bogus fig wasp” belonging to the family Torymidae and Eurytomidae – see link Fig co-evolution
Sometimes observations lead you to road less traveled. And I wanted to make this post to remind everyone stuck in busy and hustling/bustling urban environments, that right under our nose; an incredible life at small scale is getting along without anyone ever noticing or admiring the beauty of this small scale. Let’s stop (honking) and instead pay attention.
Ps: if you can help identify this incredible insect, please add a comment below.