7 Aug 2013

Alien Nation

Got the shock of my life when curiosity got the better of me. I borrowed a basic microscope from a friend as I wanted to see some plants and various other things up close and personal just to see what they were about, and I started with a small Creeping Thistle flower. When I focused in, I'm not afraid to admit, I jumped a mile out of my chair as this alien creature suddenly appeared in the viewfinder. It was all of 2mm big, not even quite 1/8th of an inch, so didn't notice it at all when I put it under the light, but in the viewfinder it was looked like a 10 foot alien creature with a definite human bloodsucking tendencies.

So this very small black blob, on closer inspection was an amazing insect with a really long proboscis type thing sucking the sap and two weird antennae type things on its rear end. Him (or her) and its friend were very obliging models and let me draw them, even in the full glare of the microscope light they didn't seem to mind having all their privacy taken away from them. I wonder if they saw a magnified eye looking down on them and were slightly freaked out themselves and were desperately sucking away at the sap trying to keep calm and hoping they hadn't been noticed. They were a beautiful deep rich purple with olive green legs and black knees. Though do insects have knees? The actual Creeping thistle was amazing too. I'll get round to painting it when I've got over my excitement of aliens.

I also looked at a fern with what to the naked eye looked like spores underneath, but on very close inspection it looked like a collection of worms under an umbrella. I know, totally technical terminology, but when they started flicking and moving I got freaked out and had to remove the fern. Maybe sometimes its not good looking too closely at things.

Who knew all this was right under our noses. I can see why the art director of Aliens apparently was inspired by creatures that appeared right here on earth. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Who needs aliens from outerspace, we've got our very own in our backyards. I think I'll have to do some research now in the anatomy of insects, as this has piqued my interest enough to seek out some more. Though, am slightly scared...

(ps ...oh, and those who are scientifically minded the magnification on the eyepiece said WF 10x/18 - whatever that means....)


  1. Yeah wha'eva haha! And you wonder why I freak out at noises or creepycrawlies...don't look at dust mites they are really scary!! Behind you...incredibly brave of you even though it looks strangely beautiful 😳..did you make the poor thugs do a wee doodoo when you surprised them???!! 😁

  2. Enjoyed your story, and love the sketch. Thanks.

  3. Hi Catriona,

    Love your blog and microscope project. Great possibilities here to combine art and biology - fancy it?

    Ray (also a trainee beekeeper, foulden)

  4. Thanks Ray, would love to combine them! If they're not too scary...