Face to face with a sub-mm insect

I was investigating the pollen of a really interesting mutant Azalea (I shall describe that in a separate post). While scanning the field of the slide, my eyes fell upon this immature insect. With the naked eye, it looked like a little spec and so I couldnt spot it in the first place. I showed it to my local expert and he felt it was an immature beetle. The insect fits  in one field of the foldscope low power lens, suggesting that its length is about a mm or so.  Many aspects of the internal anatomy can be seen, such as trachea, gut contents and muscles,  albeit transiently. If anyone in the forum can recognize this insect species, I will be grateful. Note that you are seeing the insect belly up, i.e. from the ventral surface. You can also see the proboscis of the beetle. It looks like a curved dagger. I have now seen this quite a few times and at time get a strange impression that we are looking at each other.

We often think of bees and butterflies as pollinators, but when one sees such an insect covered in pollen, you know that there are many other players in the great pollination exercise.



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    We should make a much more detailed catalog of the sub-mm species. They deserve more attention; specially since the role they play might be unknown.

    I just started reading the Tara expedition papers; and I am wondering if we should do something like that for the sub-mm space 🙂


  2. laksiyer says:

    Yes Manu, I completely agree. Something like the Tara expedition would be great. With the coming of summer in the NE, every plant I just dust onto a slide sprinkles sub-mm arthropods. Since many are often (and sometime strictly) associated with a particular plant, a systematic mapping might be interesting. If each of us take one plant in our neighborhood and think of ways to trap submm insects and document them, it might add up pretty soon. Foldscopers in the tropics definitely will have a big role here. I am going to start with my backyard.

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