Y'all! So many exciting things have happened in my life since the last time I blogged.
One of the main things I’m excited about is that I’ve been given a tool to feed my obsessive nerdyness. This tool happens to be a company that makes microscopes and I totally tricked someone into hiring me there. Suckers.
SO ANYWAY. I found this Beetle. I found it on the black top of some airport. It was all dead and dehydrated. I picked it up because I thought I could glue it to a canvas and make a cool painting around it. It looked like this:
|Photo Credit to JJ Blackwood|
But I happened to be hanging out with a coworker who suggested we take it to work and look at it.
So then, I cut off it's leg and I cut off it's head and my friend Marc stuck it into his Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). It looked FREAKY. I'll show you in a sec but first you need to know that it was a pristonychus terricola (I think) based on a picture I found in a library book called The Anatomy of Insects & Spiders by Claire Beverly and David Ponsonby.
Ok, so first of all...let's look at it's leg.
|We are about to look at this part.|
|This is the hook at the end of it's foot. I was playing with the cutest june bug that I found when I was in Tennessee last weekend. It was crawling all over me and I kept thinking about how it's digging it's little micro-hooks into my skin but they can't cause me pain because they are too small. |
That scale bar in the bottom right hand corner says 500 microns. To give you a frame of reference, a strand of human hair can be 17-50 microns for people of European descent and 56-181 microns for people of African descent. If you want to measure the diameter of your own hair, it's really easy! All you need is a laser. Follow these steps. If you are using one of those red laser pointers then it's a helium neon laser and the wavelength, λ, is around 633 nanometers.
|This is what I like to call the leg vertebrae! See in the drawing above how beetles have a whole bunch of joints on the leg? You know what I just found out about these joints? They work like screws! Instead of a ball-and-socket joint like humans have, beetles joints have threads that screw into place. They can do a full 360 rotation and are much harder to dislocate than human joints.|
|Ok, next we are going to look at this long antennae here.|
|Super smooth! They must have two entirely different functions. Like, one for sensing and one for collecting particles...or, something like that. I'm not really sure.|
|This is that pollen up close. It's also got this thread stuff all over it. Seems too small to be spider web....maybe a bacteria?|
|This is that same thread stuff that was all over it. I have no idea what this is. I looked up SEM images of bacteria and spider webs and they don't really look like this. What do you all think?|
|Here it is close-up. See how it's kind of braided like rope but then it's got this gooey part like snot?|
|Here is part of it's head. It's got a chunk of dirt and also a little crawly thing.|
UPDATE: My friend Jessyka told me that the crawly thing might be a nematode. Here is a picture I found online of a nematode:
|Yep....looks like it. Nematodes are a parasite to beetles and are used as organic pest control. Maybe that's what killed my beetle. Check out nematode pest control|