An ant under the microscope

I killed two ants the other day, for Science. “Adventures with a Microscope” instructs you in how to kill a fly so that you can remove its legs and eyes for a close look under the microscope. No flies were available, so I victimized some ants who kept trying, with mindless persistence, to invade my personal space. I put them under glass, where one asphyxiated, slowly, as I had no chloroform. The other escaped and I flicked it into some water, where it drowned. I felt more than a few twinges of guilt, staring at their huddled corpses, but then decided to examine them under the microscope.

And oh, how glorious!

40x (lowest magnification):
The segmented, slightly blurry object on the right is its antenna.
The thin filament is (I think) carpet fuzz.

Note the difference in texture between chitin and eye (zoom 100x):

Zoom 200x:

These were all taken with reflected light, since ants don’t transmit light well. But are they not beautiful and alien, seen up so close? We’ve all heard of the fly’s multi-faceted eye. I’m not sure I realized that the ant’s is likewise complex and compound.


4 of 5 people learned something from this entry.

  1. Terran said,

    February 8, 2013 at 3:58 am

    (Learned something new!)


    So how *do* you remove an ant’s eyes?

  2. Susan said,

    February 8, 2013 at 5:25 am

    (Learned something new!)

    I am in love with your dalliances with the microscope. I knew I would be.

  3. Kiri said,

    February 8, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Terran: razor blades, apparently. I haven’t tried it :)

  4. Umaa said,

    February 8, 2013 at 10:53 am

    (Learned something new!)

    The poetry is in this post is undeniable. Brutal, and yet beautiful. I learned something new… about you Kiri! The lengths you’ll go for science!

  5. Kiri said,

    February 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Umaa: The phrasing is as such because I felt so bad about the whole thing! :) I felt awful the day I had to spray down two wasp nests, too. :/

    Plus, today I went back for another look and discovered that my cleaning ladies apparently dispatched of the ants, despite the note I’d put on my microscope station asking them not to clean/disturb anything. Sigh.

  6. Umaa said,

    February 9, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    (Knew it already.)

    :) I knew you weren’t a sociopath!

  7. Katie said,

    February 12, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    There’s art and beauty in everything, even an ant, obviously. I love it.

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