I just assembled my Foldscope two nights ago and because of work hadn’t had a chance to go in the field and find something, so I decided to look at what might be growing in a bath water recycling system I have on my porch.
I was expecting to find the usual suspects that I see when I’ve sampled this before, mainly a handful algal cells with occasionally some fun shaped diatoms. I however had a big surprise with the first sample I put into the Foldscope as I saw:
Yikes, mosquito larva (?) appear to be breeding in the water and they are at a small enough size that I can’t see them with the naked eye, but the Foldscope allowed me to see them before they became a problem! They were so entertaining to watch as they moved around the slide. I was really pleased at how easy the Foldscope camera mount made it to get images and even shoot video:
I used just a lamp in my room as the light source and was using a glass slide that I put scotch tape on to make a shallow enclosed chamber that I then placed a coverslip on, so that I didn’t crush the larva as I tried to focus.
Knowing the larva are there I can now take some measure to mitigate their presence like getting a few fish for the tank. My guess is that the larva is of Culex genus mosquito as I’ve found them in my home before: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2922648.
Update 2016.05.06 17:00– Looks like it might not be a mosquito larva after all!!! I posted this observation to iNaturalist: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/3112586 and a community member pointed me to look at the Polychaete genus Aeolosoma and from looking through some of the taxa online this seems to be a much better fit that my first hypothesis of a mosquito larva, thankfully.
Two fantastic things at work here – a tool that allows me to capture and share things from the microscopic world, quickly and cheaply (Foldscope) and a community of people knowledgeable and engaged at sharing their knowledge (iNaturalist). Its a great time to be involved in science and biological exploration as there is still so much more to be discovered and the tools are getting easier to access for hopefully everyone.