by Brian Tomasik
First written: 8 May 2016; last update: 29 Jun. 2016
This page includes microscope pictures of bugs that I found at my house or from a friend's garden. Bug suffering is a serious moral issue, and I consider learning more about bugs a helpful step towards reducing their populations. All of these photos are of either live bugs or bugs that died on their own; it's unethical to kill bugs in non-humane ways in order to study them.
If you think I've misidentified any of these bugs, let me know! And I release all pictures on this page into the public domain worldwide.
Except for the picture of a Brussels sprout, the following photos were taken with a "Crenova® UM012C USB Digital Microscope".
I think this is a fungus gnat:
For instance, compare the wing with this picture.
This particular fungus gnat was dead on my bathroom floor. In general, these gnats fly around my sinks. Are the larvae feeding off scum in the sink? Or are the adults flying in from elsewhere and just getting water at the sinks?
I always blow on the sink drain before using it in order to dislodge any gnats that may be living there before turning on the water. But sometimes this fails, or the gnats get near the water while it's running, as a result of which they fall in and presumably drown, perhaps painfully....
Fungus gnats have generation times of ~17 days, so their ratio of (time spent dying)/(time spent living) is quite bad (i.e., quite high).
I'd like to figure out what the gnat larvae are eating so that I can remove it.
The next two pictures show two more fungus gnats, also found dead on my bathroom floor. The magnification is the same as above.
Fungus gnats often breed in the soil of indoor plants. In general, I oppose indoor plants because they increase the world's net primary productivity and thereby create more total food for bugs. Preventing indoor bug infestations is one more benefit of not having indoor plants.
I think these photos show aphids. They originated on Brussels sprouts that a friend of mine grew in fall 2015. The Brussels sprouts were covered with aphids (each one had an average of maybe ~10-100 aphids?), as you can see in the below picture:
This suggests that you shouldn't grow Brussels sprouts (or eat organic Brussels sprouts), since they support huge amounts of bug suffering.
I tried to rescue some aphids from being boiled alive before my friend cooked the Brussels sprouts. I put the sprouts on a plate before rinsing the bugs off the sprouts and onto the ground. Some of the aphids fell onto the plate. At the end of that process, I blew the aphids off the plate, but not all of them came off. I stashed the plate into a drawer, not wanting to touch it further for fear of crushing the left-over aphids on it.
Then, in May 2016, I took out the plate and found a few dried aphids left on it. The following pictures show two of these aphids.
Dead flies in celery
Inside the bottom of most celery stalks that one buys in the grocery store, it's possible to find one or two flies that got stuck in the celery. Following are pictures of one such fly.
There was also a stray wing from a second fly:
Because I feel bad for these trapped flies, I tend not to buy celery, although the presence of a few caught flies is only a small data point to inform the overall analysis regarding which foods cause less insect suffering.
I found this bug apparently dead on the floor by my front door. I'm not sure what kind of bug it is.
Insect on bok choy
I found this bug, dead, in between stems of a bok choy plant from the grocery store.
Bug on green pepper
I found this bug, dead, on the side of a green bell pepper from the grocery store.
I found this moth drowned in a bucket of water that my housemate was using to capture leaking water from a sink.