Tag Archive | mosquitoes

Diapause is over!


In Victoria, the weather has been getting a bit nicer recently, with a few sunny days in a row. I have not been taking much advantage of the fine weather, but I did get out yesterday in the backyard to shoot a little running crab spider we found at a gas station.


During the shoot, Catherine and I saw a female Culiseta incidens mosquito, which is not an unusual species to find this time of year. These mosquitoes spend the winter in protected locations such as caverns, basements and hollow trees, where they live off their fat reserves in a state similar to hibernation. This state, in insects, is known as diapause, specifically reproductive diapause. This diapause state is induced by a certain reduced light cycle during the sensitive stage, which for many mosquitoes is the final larval instar and the pupa. In Culiseta, as in Culex,reproductive diapause is characterized by hypertrophy of the fat body (the bugs pork up on sugar), seeking dark places (for overwintering), and aversion to bloodfeeding (they don’t take bloodmeals). This environmentally-induced and hormonally-maintained state only lasts part of the overwintering period, and for many of our northern Culex, Culiseta and Anopheles only lasts until mid December.


This means that anytime springlike conditions come about, such as this late-February fine day, the females can come out of their overwintering site and take a blood meal. This female came out and did so on me, and if things go right for her, she can use the protein from my blood to nourish her first clutch of eggs, which she will lay in an egg raft.


These overwintered females are the first active bloodfeeding mosquitoes out there, so have a look for them when springlike conditions prevail. Enjoy some special time with one or two of them sucking your blood, as the next species to emerge will be the far more numerous and ferocious Aedes and Ochlerotatus which overwintered as eggs.

How not to make money off a viral story


Copyright 2005 Sean McCann

In September of last year, I was contacted by Ephraim Ragasa, a student at the University of Florida for permission to use a photo I took of Psorophora ciliata, the Gallinipper mosquito. These large mosquitoes are surely one of the largest blood-feeding mosquitoes in North America, and it is quite a shock when they come around looking for blood.

Ephraim wanted to use the photo for a Featured Creatures article, a common assignment for students in the Entomology and Nematology Department at UF.  Since that time, for whatever reason, the media has picked up on this and spun it into a story of “Giant Mosquitoes Invading Florida!” or some other such tripe.

The photo has been copied and reproduced at least a hundred times since then, being used by news media, in pest control websites and on blogs. Only Deborah Netburn, a journalist with the L.A. Times has contacted me for permission to use the photo. She turned out a very nice article, with the scientific name spelled correctly and the facts straight. I was happy to help her.

For the others, many did not credit me, I certainly have not seen any payment, and frankly it pisses me off that everyone except me is making money off my image.

It turns out that the copyright notice on the UF website is nebulous and seems to imply free usage rights for “educational purposes”, so I guess it is down to me that the photo does not give me any income, although the pest control companies will be receiving an invoice for their uncredited and illegal commercial usage.

Anyway, all of these issues been covered extensively and in much better detail by Alex Wild, someone who makes his living from photography, but speaking as a student who is having trouble paying tuition, I lift my middle finger at the unethical commercial exploiters of copyrighted work. So there.

Update: The Hastings Park Eagle agrees with me: