The eyes of a parasite (Diptera: Eldunnia breviceps)
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This image was created with a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and it depicts the head of Eldunnia breviceps, a blood-feeding ectoparasite. These flies, called “bat flies,” have remarkable adaptations for life on a bat, such as winglessness, eye reduction, and especially the ability to cling and burrow through fur. The image is of the “face” of the fly, with the eye cluster in the upper left corner, and the straw-like proboscis in the lower right corner. Notice the spines on almost every surface! In my research at UIC and the Field Museum, I use SEM and microscopy to closely examine the unique structures of each fly species. SEM images provide highly detailed images of all parts of the fly and allow discovery of structures invisible to even a light microscope! By carefully noting how structures distinguish each species, I can develop an idea of how the flies are related to each other and how their adaptations have evolved over time.