Researchers needed high-speed cameras to film the hunting process.
Attacks by predatory mosquito larvae are so lightning fast that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. Small predatory creatures need only 15 milliseconds to “harpoon” their prey – scientists had to use high-speed cameras to film the process in slow motion, writes Scientific warning.
A team of scientists at Denver’s Metropolitan State University has been monitoring the larvae of three species of mosquitoes for years. As a result, they were able to picture exactly how these tiny predatory creatures catch their prey. The process itself takes only milliseconds, so it cannot be seen with the naked eye.
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In the study, the scientists found that two of the three species studied, Toxorhynchites ambonensis and Psorophora ciliata, can protrude their small heads to capture food. In addition, scientists have discovered that Sabathes cyaneus larvae, which are passive in nature, are capable of capturing their prey with lightning speed.
According to the study’s lead author, Robert Hancock, he and his colleagues were able to film using high-speed cameras how mosquito larvae, no more than two centimeters long, can “harpoon” their prey with their siphons. mouthparts.
Hancock notes that he first had the opportunity to observe the process of lightning preying on mosquito larvae several decades ago. Then he attended classes in medical entomology, where he and his students tried to observe the process of hunting with the help of microscopes. However, they did not succeed very well – the attack of the larvae is so lightning fast that in fact the students saw only a blur, and then the food reached the mouths of the predators. Today, he and his colleagues were finally able to capture the process in slow motion.
It took Hancock more than 20 years to understand and describe the process of hunting mosquito larvae. To do this, they used the world’s fastest optical system for tracking missiles, a 16mm film camera designed for the US military.
Scientists need to adapt the camera to take pictures through the microscope. During filming, the researchers used jewelry tweezers to capture mosquito larvae. In the end, they were able to record the hunting process at a speed of 340 frames per second.
The researchers found that the small raptors launched their head like a harpoon by applying pressure on their abdomen. Then their short racemose bristles spread out around their heads to grab prey and drive it into the predator’s toothed jaws.
Toxorhynchites ambonensis and Psorophora ciliata are active predators. Scientists wondered if other species could use a similar hunting method. Scientists have studied the behavior of Sabathes cyaneus, which is more amorphous in nature.
Scientists filmed the hunting of these larvae with a camera capable of filming at a speed of more than 4 thousand frames per second. What surprised them was when they discovered that these resting hunters were also capable of a lightning attack that lasted only 15 milliseconds. The researchers observed how the larvae quickly grab prey with their tails and send them into their toothy mouths.
Before Focus wrote that Some people get bitten by mosquitoes more often Scientists have explained why this happens.
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