I just returned from Panama – a heaven for someone like me who loves biodiversity. Being in the middle of the jungle or small un-named islands is amazing; except for the part when you are being eaten alive by SandFlies.
I was in Bocas Del Toro; with Mangrove island. I took a kayak out on a very calm day in the ocean. And within 10 minutes I felt like I am being eaten alive by sandflies. I had so many bites that I was absolutely sure that I will get leishmaniasis. Long story short, I had to go to a pharmacy and get some compounds (Calamine) to reduce the itch you feel because of the bite.
After all that pain, I was sure I wanted to image sandflies. Here I use Scotch tape to get live flies who have been feeding on my arm – and I was surprised to see blood. It makes sense that when a fly/mosquito feeds on you, it’s tummy fills with blood. But it’s just the image of these flies eating you alive – that was too much.
Sandflies cause leishmaniasis; an infectious disease with terrible consequences. So speciation and identifying vectors (sand flies) and control spread of the disease is important. Here I use Foldscope to image live sandflies.
I have posted the video with my description. Watch till the end – the live gut is quiet amazing to watch.
Here are the two videos:
Ps: it’s interesting – while writing this post, suddenly my whole body started itching just like the itch I had in Panama. Is my body firing circuits that were engaged in my memory of that terrible itch.