In Still Waters

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Culex larva

They say when you are out in the wilds and need to drink water from the land you should boil it first … and you can see why. The above image is a mosquito larva from the genus Culex. The larva lives submerged in water and feeds on particles of organic matter, microscopic organisms or plant material. Culicine larvae float with the head low and only the siphon (breathing tube) at the tail held at the surface of the water. After several instars it then develops into a pupa, then eventually into an adult like the one below … a real bloodsucker and potential vector of one or more important diseases of birds, humans, and other animals.

Culex adult
Dasyhelea larva

Often found in ponds or pools, puddles, tree hollows where water collects, and in gardens in birdbaths, tubs, gutters, and other places where standing water collects, members of the family of biting-midges Ceratopogonidae can be found.

Dasyhelea larva

These are most likely Dasyhelea genus, but the adults of these do not actually bite or feed on vertebrate blood or predate on other invertebrates. The adults take nectar only, an unusual feeding behavior within the family Ceratopogonidae, which includes the Highland Midge (Culicoides impunctatus), which do bite humans and feed on blood, often occuring in many numbers. Some species of Dasyhelea are important pollinators of plants such as cocoa trees and rubber plants.

Dasyhelea pupa

The larvae are primarily herbivorous, feeding on green algae, diatoms, fungi and detritus.

Dasyhelea pupa casing

22 thoughts on “In Still Waters

  1. During the many years I hiked in the Natal Drakensberg, I only drank from fast-running water – even high up near the summit. I convinced myself that the water was probably cleaner that way. Your photographs suggest I may have ingested all sorts of bugs. Fortunately I am still here to tell the tale.

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    1. These are mainly found in relatively still or slow-moving water … and as you say you are still here to tell the tale 🙂

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  2. An oft-repeated bit of advice around here is to be sure and empty and clean bird baths every couple of days. Apparently some of these larvae develop very quickly, indeed!

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  3. Amazing what different and very tiny creatures you discover, Pete. Stunning captures and I am impressed by the detailed antennas of the adult Culex.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome captures of these tiny aquatic nymphs, Pete. Here any standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and, yes, they do threaten our well-being. Those that dine on our blood that is. I posted one a while back that is no threat to anyone, but it’s tough to assume that and pay the price. I’m not sure if I mentioned this to you but one gave me West Nile Virus Encephalitis . I am quite careful about them now. 🙂

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  5. I’m Ted on the opinion of nightmare stuff. I still am haunted by images of the original Alien emerging from the chest of Kane (John Hurt). Your image of the pupa brings disturbing reminiscences, as do some of those my daughter, the marine biologist, has encountered, of polychaete worms. Shudder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember that Alien scene well with John Hurt, and have made many comparisons to what I have seen in the natural world since then. Somethings just stick in your head … until they burst out …

      Liked by 1 person

  6. These amazing photos prove my theory that humans evolved with sight that could not detect most such creatures (and certainly not microbes) because if we could, we would be too terrified to live!

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