by: E.M. Kinsman Rochester, NY, November 1998
Please read important footnote
My home backs up to a large park with the immediate 30 acres designated "forever wild" where there is a shallow stream very close by. This spring and summer was one of the wettest on record with the mosquitoes being so thick that if you swung a pint jar you would catch a quart of mosquitoes. While they were plentiful, the actual densities were somewhere on the order of a 50 mosquito swarm in a minute.
Male and female mosquitoes are very different. The males have a large set of antennas used to smell nectar and females. Both the sexes are important pollinators of flowers, but the female is the only one with a well developed proboscis. The proboscis on the female is a specialized mouth part, and is a critical component in the collection of high protein mammal blood. The female requires the blood to both manufacture her eggs and lay them. All of my images are of female mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are also an important vector for diseases. Although mosquitoes can carry a number of serious illness, here in the upper areas of New York State, such illnesses are rare. Still the local conservation center checks mosquito populations for vectors like encephalitis. Finding the local population free of diseases, allowed me to safely take 16mm film footage for a film commission.
After trying a number of unsuccessful techniques, I was able to devise a method to get the shot. I used a 55 mm macro lens on an extension that increased the magnification at the film plane to 1.4 times life size.
The movie and stills of a mosquito biting are created by capturing frames from a video (VHS quality) and converted to GIF format for compression into an animation. This process gains a lot of contrast and loses a lot of resolution. The original 16 mm negatives are now being used by a company that commissioned the work and are of much higher resolution.
Images © E. Kinsman 1998.
Comments to the author Comments to the author sent via our contacts page quoting page url plus : ('ekinsman','')">Ted Kinsman welcomed.
Visit Ted's home page, a fascinating site showing high speed and time lapse photography.
Also read Roland Mortimer's Micscape article on the mosquito that carries Dengue Fever.
Footnote: This article and images is for educational purposes only. The images of a mosquito biting were taken by a specialist under controlled conditions for a film commission. The work was carried out in an area of the world where it was known to be safe and with additional assurances from local health authorities. The article is NOT encouraging anybody to take similar images or risk mosquito bites in areas of the world where there is even the faintest risk of catching diseases carried by mosquitoes. Micscape, Microscopy-UK, On.View Ltd. and it's contributors accepts no responsibility for any damage to health for those who do take such risks. Return to article.
Published in December 1998 Micscape Magazine.
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