July 2007

Due to the horrible wet weather throughout the month, I didn't get many photos in July. The only really successful day was a trip to Anglesey to photograph the nesting Black Guillemots.

Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle)

Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle)

Black Guillemots are rare in Wales and there are only about 20 breeding pairs in the whole country.

Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle)

Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle)

The only other photographs I took this month were of some medically important, disease-transmitting flies that are studied at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Bloodfed female Tsetse Fly (Glossina morsitans morsitans)

Through their bite, tsetse flies transmit Trypanosoma brucei, a protozoan parasite responsible for African Sleeping Sickness in humans and the cattle disease Nagana.

Bloodfed female Tsetse Fly (Glossina morsitans morsitans) exhibiting prediuresis 10minutes after feeding

Since blood is largely comprised of water the first step in the digestion process is to concentrate the blood and excrete the excess water, in a process called prediuresis. This occurs soon after feeding and allows the fly to quickly reduce the weight of its meal while still retaining almost all of its nutritious value.

male Tsetse Fly (Glossina morsitans morsitans) probing for a capillary

Both male and female tsetse flies are obligate haematophagous insects (i.e. they feed exclusively on blood).

sandfly (Lutzomyia longipalpis)

The phlebotomine sandflies comprise a large group of flies found throughout most of the warmer climes of the world. Of these, about 80 species are known to transmit Leishmania parasites to various host species. In South America, Lutzomyia longipalpis is the main vector of visceral leishmaniasis, a lethal form of the disease if left untreated. Unlike Tsetse flies, sandflies only require bloodmeals for the development of their eggs. Male sandflies never bite.

sandfly (Lutzomyia longipalpis) biting my arm

The initial plan had been to photograph a female sandfly biting my boss (that's his finger in the top photo), but he obviously doesn't smell very appetising since we couldn't induce any to take a chunk out of him. They didn't have any qualms about feeding off me, however, and we ended up having to photograph one on my arm instead.

Thanks to "Flygirl" for the use of her arm in the Tsetse photos.

June 2007 2007 Diary Index August 2007