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SEM image of the week: Careful with that axe, Eugene, Part 2

Posted on Monday, January 9, 2012 by for SEM.

Let’s try imaging fruit flies again. Prianka and Janae tried it back in November and were moderately successful — if you overlook the fact that they crushed the living daylights out of their specimen. The AP Bio class had plenty of extra fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) leftover from their genetics lab, so I thought I’d try imaging one myself. I was slightly more successful. My subject suffered only minor damage. Small insects are surprisingly delicate.

Overview of the whole fly. Note the indented eye, amputated foreleg, and chipped wings. The damage to the leg and wing are certainly due to my careless handling of this tiny, fragile specimen. Close up of the eye. The prune-like appearance of the eye is probably due to the sample being desiccated. I assume insect eyes are fluid-filled like ours. Remove the fluid and the eye collapses. Close up of the eye showing the crystalline lenses. The bristles are a common sight on insects. They are everywhere.
More bristles on the back of the fruit fly’s thorax (middle segment). Bristles on the wings. Bristles on bristles. Some kind of sensory apparatus, no doubt.

A word about the title of this post (and the earlier one with the same name). It’s a reference to a Pink Floyd song from the late ’60s.

Image credit: Glenn Elert