Thursday, 3 March 2016

Post 393 - Old Mouldy Onions Manifested Owl Midges

Owl Midge - Psychodidae family
Hi everyone, Post 393 today. I was talking on twitter yesterday to Zoologist Jess about how the mini-beasts are still tucked up as eggs, larvae or whatever at the moment ready to emerge as the weather gets warmer. At the weekend I saw my first wasp though as it was very mild but it was the other side of my window and didn't hang around for a photograph.

I did find another really mini-beast though at the weekend. We were cleaning up in our sun lounge which is a nice cool part of the house in the winter and Dad stores vegetables from the allotment for winter. Some of the onions though were now starting to look a bit ropey and there were some aphids on new shoots from some. As we sorted through them to get rid of the bad ones we noticed a few little fluffy flies flitting about. I managed to capture one in a petri dish and got it under my microscope. It's one I can hook up to the PC so I got some nice shots of it. I wasn't sure what it was, Dad's best guess was a whitefly of some form as he gets these sometimes on his vegetables.

I really like the antennae and fluffly heads
I did my research but it didn't look quite right for a whitefly so thanks to twitter and @flygirlNHM I found out it is an Owl Midge. I did my research on this species, a new one to me, and here's what I found:

  • The first thing to say is that they are very small, these pictures were taken under a very powerful microscope, it can magnify up to 200x!
  • There actual size is just 2 - 4 millimetres! That puts it among the smallest living organisms that I've covered on my blog!
  • They're usually only seen from May through to October, but you can tell from the date that this post was put up that we're not in that period yet.
  • Well, I was watching an interesting video by a Twitter friend called L.B. Loxley, yes it was about frogs but it was also explaining how our animals are coming out due to the mild Winter.
A view from below - when you look close you
can see the compound eye.
  • There life span is quite small, like themselves, at only 5 days long, I mean, that seems quite average due to their size really. 
  • In the owl midge family, there are a huge 2900 species! Only 99 of these live in Britain, though, which is quite an exact number.
  • One way to identify them is to look for the very small hairy, pointed wings, which all Owl Midge's have.
  • They lay their eggs in stagnant water and in whatever lies in drains and waste pipes, so it seems they don't like the cleanest of places...
I still tried to get a bugs eye view even though
it was a true mini-beast
  • The larvae then hatch out within a 2 days and feed on the decaying matter for the next two weeks. So Dad's old onions were just right for them!
Here are a few links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. Awww, they're such a sweet find Zach! Love the photos you got. - Tasha