Mosquito head aerodynamics?

Images made through a microscope. All subject types.

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leonardturner
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Mosquito head aerodynamics?

Post by leonardturner »

I am almost dissuaded from posting these having just seen Charlie's superb mosquito head from yesterday, but I do have a question. Can anyone tell me the presumed function of the little "brooms" extending from the posterior of the Aedes' head?

Image
Nikon Labophot, 10X CFN Plan Achro, Nikon D3S

Image
40X CFN Plan Achro

Leonard

ChrisR
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Post by ChrisR »

No idea, sorry, but a lovely detail.
"40X CFN Plan Achro" - did you make a slide ?

Olympusman
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Mosquito

Post by Olympusman »

These are the antennae. You can tell a male mosquito from a female because the bristles on the antenna are more complex since they are used to locate a female by her pheromones. It looks like you have a male here.
Michael Reese Much FRMS EMS Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

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Post by rjlittlefield »

To clarify: the antennae are on the front of the head, on the right side of the first image.

I think that Leonard is asking about those small scales on the back of the head, on the left side of the first image.

I do not know their function.

--Rik

leonardturner
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Post by leonardturner »

Quite right, Rik; I was referring to the back of the head, detailed in the second image. I'm familiar with the antennae and the information on sexual differentiation they provide, but had never noted these scales before (a better term, I think, than my "broom" reference). The notching looks a bit reminiscent of the scales in a butterfly wing.

Thanks to all for your interest and comments.

Leonard
Last edited by leonardturner on Sun Nov 03, 2013 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

leonardturner wrote:The notching looks a bit reminiscent of the scales in a butterfly wing.
Yes, and it looks particularly reminiscent of scales often found at the margins of the wings, such as illustrated by NikonUser HERE. I suspect you're right with that suggestion that aerodynamics are involved.

--Rik

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Post by ChrisR »

It's tempting to think of the design of aero cycling helmets, but dragging those antennae through the air must be an overwhelming matter.
http://www.intelligent-triathlon-traini ... elmet.html
:?

leonardturner
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Post by leonardturner »

Chris, a very good point. Still, the resemblance to the butterfly/moth scale is uncanny. Perhaps rather than improving airflow their movement provides some sensory input to that small brain.

In answer to your earlier question, I didn't make a slide; just shot the images and discarded the specimen. The stack was run with Zerene.

Leonard

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Post by TimmyG »

Hi all, just to chip in here. I'm no expert by any means but have been getting into macro recently and enjoying the learning a bit of entomology along the way.

I've just finished reading Wigglesworth's "The Life of Insects" and in one chapter he talks about the sensory organs of insects (in particular flies) and describes how there is a row of hairs along the back of the head to help the fly to understand the position of it's head (which in turn aids it in orienting itself in flight).

IIRC he describes an experiment where they weigh down part of the head and then trim the hairs at the back to see if the fly will compensate etc. Something like that anyway, but I suspect a similar thing is going on here.

I might be off the mark or the understanding may have changed (it's from the 60's I believe) but hope that is interesting to you.

leonardturner
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Post by leonardturner »

Thanks--good input.

Leonard

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Post by ChrisR »

Leonard - I was wondering about the lack of coverslip - it's sharper than I would have expected..

Tim -
weigh down part of the head and then trim the hairs
small clippers :shock:

leonardturner
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Post by leonardturner »

Chris--sorry, I misunderstood your question in that I thought you were asking whether I had made a permanent preparation. I shot this stack (61 images) several weeks ago; about that time I was using slides with a central depression--what we used to call "hanging drop" slides, and it is entirely possible that this fellow was so situated with a proper coverslip, but :oops: my dynamic combination of inadequate notes and despicable memory doesn't permit a confident answer. I will try to keep better records--and make better stacks--in the future.

Incidentally, this specimen was one of a number of pupae hatched in the house under a glass dome. In the process of transferring for examination, 3 or 4 escaped. I could only hope they were all males. My wife was not amused.

Leonard

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