Mayflies are relatives of dragonflies and damselflies, and they also have aquatic larvae that predates on small invertebrates or eat something more vegetarian, like algae. Like in many insects, their nymphs (larva is not a technically correct term for them) are the main stage of the life cycle taking up to a year to develop into an adult and adults won't live longer than a day. The nymphs are small (less than a centimeter) and without proper optics it's impossible to see how beautiful they are.
For this post I was taking pictures of the same nymph, it was very nervous so I had to release it into the Petri dish and catch again multiple times.
Sorry, but IE might be dying on this page because of enormous pictures. If pictures don't load, reload the page (blogger bug, common when the connection is slow).
That's a single shot with brightfiled illumination. It's very hard to get a decent picture of that nervous creature, I guess it's one of few, everything else are stacks made during those moments where it was not moving.
The most typical view of the mayfly would be from top like in the next example. To get that picture I spent nearly 3 hours making hundreds of shots. Consequently I managed to stack a dozen but a lot of parts remain unfocused.
Notice the ciliates sitting on the legs. On this pic you can see a lot of stuff inside, mainly nervous system and I guess circulatory system surrounding the gut. The bright white bands and patches are muscles as polarized light emphasizes them. The background might seem like a stitching artifact but it's not, it's an optical effect caused by DIC prism that I use. Though it is designed for 100x lens, I found out that at cost of background artifacts I get a nice image.
And the last cool angle of view (with darkfield illumination). In the following shot a lot of internal structures are visible. Because slow computers might go nuts on this heavy page I'll post it in small version, but you can right-click+new tab on it to see larger version.
Click on the image or open it in a new tab to see a larger version!
The last picture exists in even larger version, I mean the whole mayfly is visible, however I do not want to make my pages insanely big. They also will be looking amazingly cool on metallic paper. And of course I have at least 4 another angles in really good resolution and may use those in my next posts.