Bug of the Week: Chalcid Wasp

As promised, we were able to use the microscope camera unit over the weekend. Here is a photo of a very tiny wasp, in the chalcid group.

chalcid wasp

This photo doesn't do justice to the beautiful rainbow colors in the wings and the metallic blue on the abdomen. I'm afraid the camera was a bit dusty.

Wasps of the chalcid superfamily are mostly parasites, which means they lay their eggs in other insects. They are considered to be beneficial insects when their offspring consume pest insects. You probably wouldn't normally see these wasps because they are so very small, sometime only a millimeter or two in length.

There is an amazing world of tiny creatures visible only under a microscope. This week we have been reading the book "Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek: First to See Microscopic Life" by Lisa Yount. Mr. Leeuwenhoek was not the first person to make a microscope, as sometimes claimed, but he did perfect it and was the first to use a microscope to examine a wide variety of things.

Imagine what it must have been like to be the first person to closely study microscopic life forms as Leeuwenhoek did. He discovered bacteria, protozoa, insects, and even red blood cells. It would have been almost like finding a new planet, sometimes literally right under your nose. No wonder some people had trouble believing him when he told of his discoveries, they were just so fantastic.

If you get a chance, take a look at some insects under a hand lens, magnifier or microscope. You'll be astonished the details you will see.

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