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Mosquito larva photo
Diagram of mosquito larva from Wikipedia   Mosquito larva   Mosquito larva
Mosquito pupa   Mosquito pupa   Mosquito emerging from its pupa
Mosquito emerging from pupa   Mosquito emerging from pupa   Mosquito emerging from pupa

August 21st 2011


They are Ovoviviparous!

Someone came up to me and said that flies lay eggs and not larvae (see my first blog below from  13th August). This put me into a bit of a panic; could my dad have been wrong? Surely not! We looked it up and found out that some insects, including some houseflies, are ovoviviparous. This means that the eggs actually hatch inside the adult. Now there is a fascinating bit of information which I am sure few of you knew.

You will have realised that the camera on my microscope does not allow me to take a picture of the whole larva or pupa so dad and I took some photos with an ordinary camera fitted with a macro lens so that you could see get the whole picture. I have left the Wikipedia diagram up so that you can compare it with the real thing.

Today we have found another mosquito emerging from its pupa and have tried to take some photos. It takes a remarkably long time to 'hatch' and we had to go out before it had finished but the pictures we have taken give you some idea of what happens.


Mosquito larva head and thorax
Diagram of mosquito larva from Wikipedia   Mosquito larva siphon   Mosquito larva body showing gut and air-tube
Shed skin of mosquito larva   Shed skin of mosquito larva   Shed skin of mosquito larva
Mosquito pupa showing eye and legs   Pupa casing after birth of mosquito   Pupa casing after birth of mosquito

August 18th 2011


More adventures with my microscope

After the excitement of the fly larva in my previous blog below I thought that I would show you my latest find.  I saw this little wriggling creature in the bird bath yesterday and managed to scoop it into a dish to look at under the microscope.  It proved to be a culex restuans (I think!); for those of you who do not recognise this name it is more commonly known as a wriggler or a wiggler, and even more commonly as a mosquito larva!  It does not like keeping still but, if you put it into a single drop of water it finds it more difficult to move so you can study it and take some pictures.  

It is really quite a scary looking creature (look at the great diagram from Wikipedia in the photos on the left).  Its head looks like an alien and you can see right through its body.  Have a look at the short video below.  In its thorax (the bit behind the head) there are several bean-like blobs which move every now and again.  My dad and I had no idea what these were.  We wondered if they might be lungs, kidneys or even hearts, only to find out that insect larvae don’t have lungs (more about that below), or proper kidneys or hearts!  It was remarkably difficult to find out what they were on the Internet despite some lovely pictures on several sites but we finally found out that they are part of the stomach called gastric caeca.  (If we are wrong please let us know by contacting us via the contact page).  It turns out that a larva is nothing more than an eating machine and pretty much everything that you can see in it is part of its gut. 


The other bit of the larva that I managed to get some good pictures and video of was its ‘breathing tube’ or siphon.  This is at its tail; if you look at a mosquito larva in water you will see that it floats upside down with the siphon sticking up just out of the water and it is though this that it breaths.  On the video and some of the pictures you can see how this tube connects with smaller tubes which take the oxygen to the rest of the body.  If you really want to know, these tubes are called ‘tracheal trunks’.

My final interesting fact about larvae is that they shed their skins several times as they grow and in my dish I found an old skin and took some photos some of which I have included here.

Just today, I decided to have a look at another larva.  I scooped some water out of the bird bath again and found that I had caught another small animal that looked like a little black comma and which moved even faster than the larva.  Under the microscope, I realized that this was a mosquito pupa! This is when the larva metamorphoses into the mosquito and in the photographs that I took (it was quite difficult to get really good pictures) you can see that it had already developed its eye and legs.  I returned to the water butt. In the water, a mosquito was hatching (is that the right word?) from its pupa.  I quickly brought it inside and placed it under the microscope. It was awesome to watch it pull itself free.  No photos I am afraid as it was all too magnified to get any decent shots but there are some pictures of the pupa casing after the birth.


As light as....
Time to throw the bread out!   NaCl   Just add boiling water
Take a ..... out of my book   On a ...... and a prayer   Sweet, like me!
Here's looking at you   Read your future   A good reason to cover your food!

August 13th 2011


It’s my turn!  Tom has allowed me to write my first blog and he is probably going to regret it.  The video that I have attached is going to put some of you off your food but don’t let it stop you coming back to this site.

I love all sorts of animal life and earlier this week my dad decided that he would surprise me with something to allow me to look at it in a little more detail.  The day before its arrival he told me that “something that you are going to love is arriving tomorrow addressed to you”.  I had no idea what it could be. It was like my birthday apart from the fact that it was 3 months early and I wasn’t growing any older.  When a big parcel arrived in the post the next day, I gently laid it on the table, being careful not to break whatever precious gift was inside waiting for me.  On opening the box long strips of paper packaging lay everywhere and I had to clear them all out before actually reaching inside to see my present.  I took out a box, fairly big, and looked at the label stuck to it.  It read…

Brunel Microscopes Ltd                            DM6                        Batch: 108

This kind of ruined the surprise but I was still so excited.  I ripped the box open and lifted out what I knew now to be my very own microscope! I started to look through the rest of the contents of the box and was amazed to see that, in addition to the microscope, I had also been given my own dissecting kit.  I have never dissected anything before so I couldn’t (and can’t) wait to use it.  There was also a small blue box containing what I thought was an extra lens for the microscope. I was wrong. It was a video camera that you put into one of the microscope eye-pieces to take photos (I only found this out when my dad came back from work).

Once it was all set up, my dad and I started to look at things we found around the house and the garden. One of these was a fly that my dad had stunned using a washing up towel (don’t call the RSPCA; it didn’t feel a thing!)  I was looking at it under the microscope, its eyes, legs, antennae, wings, when suddenly, to my surprise, something white and worm-like started coming out of its bottom! It came out, and then another, and another, and another, and another, until there were five wriggling, white things that looked like worms. They were the fly’s larvae!  I couldn’t believe it.  On our first day of using the microscope I had managed to see a fly giving birth to its babies!  I showed Jono and Tom straight away and, although they had not witnessed the birth, they still found it amazing.  I have taken a short video clip of one of these larvae; don’t look at it whilst eating!  


I’ve taken some magnified photos of some other objects. Try and guess what they are; if you scroll over the pictures you should see a clue.  If you still don’t know, the answers are below. Enjoy!

ƃǝl s,ʎlɟ ؛sǝʌɐǝl ɐǝʇ ؛ǝʎǝ s,ʎlɟ ؛lɐʇsʎɹɔ ɹɐƃns ؛ƃuıʍ s,ʎlɟ ؛ɟɐǝl ɟo ǝɔɐɟɹnsɹǝpun ؛ƃɐqɐǝʇ ؛slɐʇsʎɹɔ ʇlɐs ؛plnoɯ ؛ɹǝɥʇɐǝɟ s,pɹıq :sɹǝʍsuɐ


The two Harry's and Andy
Andy Bush - The Legend   Alastair plays sax   Blasting away in Big Band
My small band called "What the funk?"   Soloing to the Sidewinder   The Sidewinder again
Focused!   Harry and Andy in Contra Band   BRAZIL!!
Good vibes   Matt concentrating hard on drums   Matt and Ella (just!)

August 6th 2011


Spent all of last week at Jazz Zone, a quite brilliant annual course held at Shrewsbury House School in Surbiton to which I have been going for the last five years. If you enjoy playing jazz and having fun then I recommend that you sign up for next year as soon as the booking form is out - you will not regret it. The course is run by Rich, Andy, Jim, Matt and Paul and you will not meet a nicer, more enthusiatic group of people.

Jono decided this year that he is too mature to take part but was able to say hello to a lot of his old friends at the end-of-course concert last night. As well as a great number of jazz pieces, the show finished as it does every year with the fantastic Brazilian Bateria. This is the piece in which every member of the course plays a percussion instrument and ends the concert with a deafening samba groove. Even the audience is encouraged to get involved, egged on by Rich maniacally shouting 'BRAZIL' over the beat!

These are a few of the photos that my dad took during the performances which are mainly of Harry, Alastair and me but there were lots of pictures taken during the course of the evening by someone who looked very professional and these are going to be up on the Jazz Zone facebook page. See you there next year.


The 'Went the Day Well?' anthem is being played on the Alan Titchmarsh show at some point between 7 and 8.30 pm on Radio 2 on Sunday 7th August! Tomorrow!! Listen out for it please.




  © Copyright Tthomas Jackson 2010