I am pretty fond of the dissecting microscope we have in the lab. It’s good for dissections, but it’s also good at examining any new insects I might find.
The other day I was absentmindedly scratching at my collarbone. It kept itching, and I figured a mosquito must have gotten me at some point. The itching started to migrate though, until my other collarbone was also itching, and I kept scratching until I came away with a tiny, unknown creature in my hand. I put it in a vial and brought it to work to look at up close.
Ugh. Nasty jaws that little guy had. No wonder both my collarbones were now dotted with welts, one was as raised and as large as a jellybean.
Bug Guide told me that this was the larva of a green lacewing. They look rather pretty when they grow up.
The message board on Bug Guide said that they don’t attack humans and rarely bite, and what on earth must you be doing in order to be getting chewed on by one? I pulling up English ivy vines and must have rudely ripped up this one from his burrow. Sorry.
We also have a good light microscope and sometimes I actually do real work with it. I learned to section and stain optic nerves. I cut the mouse’s dissected optic nerve into a million tiny little slices, then stained them. When I took a look, I saw this:
We look at them under a high power than this when we’re trying to assess optic nerve damage, but under the low power I could see something kind of charming. The nerve sections look like little hearts!
It’s like the mouse’s nerve was designed by a second grade girl. When I discovered this, it was a cheery little surprise to my day.