Sabethes cyaneus, mosquito (3)

Photo: Paul

Sabethes cyaneus, mosquito (4)

photo: Paul

Sabethes cyaneus, mosquito (1)

photo: Paul

Sabethes cyaneus, mosquito (5)

photo: Paul

Habitat: New World tropics, from Belize to northern Argentina
Status: Not Evaluated

This handsome devil is one of the most sought after species of mosquito to photograph on the planet. It’s only known by its scientific name, Sabethes cyaneus.

The mosquito is bedazzled in brilliant iridescent scales and it sports feathery paddles on the sides of its back legs. No, it doesn’t use them as legwarmers and they’re not the mosquito equivalent of Ugg boots. Instead, those fluffy legs are used in elaborate courtship displays in which they wave their legs and swing their bodies back and forth. This is one of the only cited instances of courtship displays in mosquitoes. An article published in the Journal of Insect Behavior states that, “A male approaches a female suspended from a horizontal stick, suspends himself in front of her as he grasps her folded wings, and proceeds with a series of discrete stereotyped behaviors that involve proboscis vibration and movement of iridescent blue paddles on his midlegs.” It’s interesting to note, however, that the article mentions “Courtship is often unsuccessful, and males are usually rejected during freeleg waving.”  Even with those fancy shmancy feathered legs the male mosquito might not get any! The article goes on to states that, “the relation between male performance and mating success remains obscure.” I bet its due to all that bad karma from sucking the blood of innocent creatures; like the photographer who took these incredible photos who goes by the name of Paul.

Sabethes cyaneus, mosquito (2)

photo: Paul

Paul wrote in the captions beneath these mosquito photos that he traveled all the way to French Guiana primarily in hopes of catching a glimpse of one of these rare and beautiful mosquitoes. He searched and searched for the elusive insect until finally he spotted it whilst photographing some ants. He says, “I left my arms ready to be bitten. Well, go figure that the DEET only stops the mosquitos I want biting me! After trying unfruitfully to catch it I finally went back to camp. The next day I looked around but didn’t see a single one of these mosquitoes, so I went back to the same spot, high up in the canopy and there it was, a single one, probably the same! I didn’t wear DEET this time, but still the bloody thing wouldn’t land! I waited until I couldn’t stand the other mosquitos anymore! The next day I decided that I would counter the irony of DEET keeping away the mosquitos I want biting me by bringing my mosquito net to catch this mosquito. So I found the one mosquito circling me. Then I hurled my mosquito net at it, like a fisherman and finally caught it! Believe it or not, even when I put my hand in the net, it still refused to bite me! So, I transferred it into a small bag and refrigerated it to slow it down enough to photograph. Out of 100’s of photos I couldn’t get a single one I was happy with! Then when I tried to show the guide the mosquito since I had played it up so much, I showed him an empty bag. He looked at it confusedly. I looked at it.”I could have sworn there was a mosquito in there…”- just as I hear a buzz by my left ear and he looks around also having heard the buzz. By this time of course it is nighttime. So I wait out on a couch as a vigil to catch this mosquito. Only I fall asleep after waiting for several hours. I wake up and what should I find but several bites, one of which I’m sure belonged to that damnable mosquito!”

After dozens of bites and countless hours trying to capture this guy in a photograph, it seems Paul was ultimately successful in his endeavors. Takes a lot of patience (and drops of blood) to catch a glimpse of the world’s most beautiful species of mosquito!