Polarized Fire Ant! 🐜

Hello foldscopers!!

While studying today I spotted something I’ve been looking for since a very long time – a living insect!

I have a test to write tomorrow but I just couldn’t stop thinking about how this ant would look in cross polars…I ran to grab my foldscope and caught the ant.

Since I observed the leg muscles in the pseudoscorpion I’ve been dying to image a live insect to take a look at whether muscles show change in birefringence as they contract and relax!

I haven’t really been able to capture a satisfactory video but thought I’d share it anyway since I hardly get any time to foldscope these days ( and I’m hella cruious to get your views on what that green thing is )

If you see the leg muscles..there not much of a difference there..they are birefringent but no different colours spotted there BUT if you look the head you will see a burst of colours!! Especially this bright green region at the sides of the head. I really wonder what this region is..just a muscle oriented differently? poison glands? what is it???? Need to read more about fire ants! Let’s do it together! πŸ™‚ Any entomolgists here?


~Have fun foldscoping! πŸ™‚

Mitali Patil

Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous College, Mumbai.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    Absolutely beautiful work – really love the contrast. My sense is that green color is also coming from muscle orientation. I love it when the muscles move.

    Incredible work @Mitali. You should expand this to multiple insects.

    See you soon πŸ™‚


  2. Mitali says:

    Thankyou Manu Sir! I have kept the ant alive to observe it again when time permits. Hoping to get better and clearer shots of the muscles. I also plan to compare the view in bright field vs polarized light!
    And yes, see you soon πŸ˜€
    ( you have no idea how excited I am )

  3. laksiyer says:

    Gorgeous gorgeous. Include the view without the polarizers. I see two possibilities. It might be the muscle that controls the labrum and maxilla, as your movie identifies the muscles that control the mandibles. But then why are the other muscles not lighting up? Another possibility is that it is one of those glands of the head, such as the mandibular or post-maxillary glands. http://cronodon.com/BioTech/insect_glands_intro.html
    If you still have the ant, might I suggest a dissection to identify what it is. You will have to use a dissection microscope and a pair of needles.

    It would be fun to do this across different ant species.

    1. Mitali says:

      yes! I thought of dissecting the ant too but before that I was thinking of trying to identify the species and reading up more about their anatomy before cutting open the poor things.

      1. Soumitra2 says:

        Amazing, all your posts are incredible. How you are getting that much clarity? Even we observed the ciliates but the clarity is not that much good. The post of ” beating heart in the crustacean egg” was so interesting, how can u achieve that much magnification, R u using high magnification lens or normal lens provided with the foldscope kit? If there is any technical tricks please share.
        Thank you

        1. Mitali says:

          Thanks for the comments and for sharing you doubts! I am using a normal 140x magnification lens. There are many tricks to get good quality data. I’m attaching links to some of Manu sir’s posts that may help you. Also, you will get better at focusing the more you keep playing around with the foldscope . Never give up! All the best! πŸ™‚
          If you still have more questions don’t hesitate to ask!

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