Scientist and photographer Gil Wizen (Canadian) spent months in the Amazon jungle in Ecuador just to find and take impressive photos of the unique mosquito species Sabethes.
The photo was taken by Gil Wizen who spent a lot of time hunting – (Photo: Gil Wizen)
They are quite common in Central and South America, often considered the “most beautiful mosquito in the world”. Their body from the trunk to the wings, the legs all have a beautiful, sparkling color. This is also a “weapon” for males to flirt with their mates when it’s mating season.
As an entomologist, Gil is passionate about special species like the Sabethes mosquito. Despite having a lot of experience, capturing a perfect picture of this “world’s most beautiful” mosquito is not simple, requiring ingenuity, patience, and even pain.
Under the light, its body emits iridescent colors, making the viewer fascinate and immediately attracted. The hind legs that bend over the mosquito’s body when it is feeding are also impressive and help create Sabethes’ majestic appearance.
Seeing the beauty of Sabethes with your own eyes is very special, as this mosquito is known to be extremely “sly” and difficult to take good photos, so it has become a subject of photographers. , biologists welcome.
There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes that have been discovered around the world. But most of them have blood-sucking properties, so it’s really hard to win the favor of humans. For example, the mosquito, of the genus Aedes, causes dengue fever.
Sabethes’ iridescent colorful body – (Photo: Flickr).
But Sabethes mosquitoes are the exact opposite. Their beautiful colors make it difficult for humans to accept them as a mosquito. The bright colors that are different from many of these mosquitoes are related to their developed visual acuity.
It is known that when the mosquitoes we normally see look for a mate, the male locates the female by the frequency of flapping his wings. But Sabethes mosquitoes are different, they can locate each other directly with their eyes. Even if the female is stationary, the male can still find them.
Aedes mosquitoes, Culex mosquitoes… are active during cool weather. But Sabethes mosquitoes are usually active during the day and are most active when the temperature and humidity are highest.
According to Gil, Sabethes mosquitoes are extremely agile. In the temperature and humidity conditions of the Amazon rainforest, mosquitoes will react when detecting the slightest signs of movement of creatures and ambient light.
“This means you have to stand still when photographing Sabethes mosquitoes. But luckily it won’t be just you and one mosquito, often dozens or even hundreds of them flying around,” Gil said.
Despite its charming beauty, Sabethes mosquitoes are a threat to indigenous people or forest experts. They are vectors of many tropical diseases, such as yellow fever and dengue fever.
Every year, many scientists have contracted diseases through Sabethes mosquitoes while spending time doing research in the Amazon. Especially for photographers, many people even expose themselves to mosquito bites to get satisfactory pictures.
Iridescent colors help mosquitoes easily attract mates – (Image: Flickr)
Close-up of Sabethes’ smooth leg hair – (Image: GETTY IMAGES)
Although beautiful, Sabethes mosquitoes are the intermediate objects of many dangerous diseases – (Photo: Flickr)
Like more than 3,300 different species of mosquitoes known around the world, only female Sabethes feed on blood, the rest of the time they feed on nectar.
Whenever they feed, their hind legs bend forward, not as a pose but because the legs have sensation, they detect movement and allow themselves to flee in case of danger.
Interesting facts around the beauty of the world’s most splendid mosquito
What is the use of the sparkling paddle-shaped midfoot?
To flirt with a mate, of course.
When a male Sabethes mosquito encounters a female mosquito, it will try to approach and perch on a tree branch. Male mosquitoes will place one of their flippers on top of the female’s wings to keep the mate from flying away. Next, the male begins to jump, waving the other oars. Immediately after that, the male mosquito will move his front legs and body in a rhythmic and regular manner.
In order to have a chance to mate, male mosquitoes are also very persistent.
This courtship dance is very energetic and directly affects the lifespan of male mosquitoes. But for them, giving birth to the next generation is much more important. Moreover, to have a chance to mate, male mosquitoes are also very persistent. If the female does not respond, the male mosquito repeats the entire dance non-stop, until the female accepts or kicks her away.
Surprisingly, the male mosquitoes in the breeding stage not only sought out females, but also “expressed joy and pleasure with handsome same-sex companions”, approached and danced the courtship dance. Males “courted by same-sex partners” are mostly silent, sometimes kicking the hyperactive male, annoying him.
There is an injustice in the natural world that most male animals have more beautiful and colorful fur than female animals. For example, chickens, peacocks… However, Sabethes cyaneus is different, the female mosquito is as beautiful as the male, which makes evolutionary researchers extremely surprised.
The female mosquito (left) and the male mosquito (right), both have shiny hairy middle legs, but the abdomen is different: the male’s belly is slightly enlarged at the end, the female is narrow.
Can unattractive male mosquitoes find a mate?
In the wild, females are usually a relatively scarce resource, and males undergo stiff competition for limited mating opportunities. Some males decide to win by fighting, such as elk; some males win hearts by constantly displaying their beauty, such as peacocks. Under this pressure of sex selection, females tend to look unremarkable, and males are charming and attractive.
However, Sabethes cyaneus is not only a rare “male-and-female” species found in the wild; Male mosquitoes can also find mates even without flashy flippers.
Sabethes mosquitoes mate.
Researchers at Uppsala University (Sweden) conducted a series of experiments to find out why both male and female Sabethes cyaneus mosquitoes are beautiful. They found that removing the males’ eye-catching flippers did not significantly reduce their mating success. Males without paddles can still jump to attract females, and the probability of being accepted by a female is not less than that of male mosquitoes with paddle legs.
But conversely, if the female doesn’t have flippers, the odds of being preferred by the male drop drastically. In other words, although the males appear to be performing the dance to flirt with the female and show off their large oars, they are in fact examining the female’s choice of oars before performing the dance.
Further research showed that the size of the female’s flippers is directly proportional to fertility. When females have large flippers, this proves they have strong reproductive abilities and attract more courting males.
Three mosquitoes in the picture: the male on the far left is flirting with the female in the middle, and a male on the far right just stands and watches.