Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Insects in Antarctica

First apologies for the hiatus in posts over the last 2 weeks. Dr Khandelwal has been writing just as regularly, however it was I who for personal reasons was not able to post as his usual proxy. Please expect some accumulate writings to follow. - Kush

Originally meant to be posted March 9th:

Can you imagine a life of four months without having seen any ant, insect, fly or mosquito? Well, that’s what it was like till a couple of days ago for me in Antarctica. I had not seen any such creature since I put my feet on this continent on the 15th November, 2007. It was a funny and pleasant feeling living at Maitri where I could leave any food item or my cup of tea uncovered without the fear of flies swarming over it. Whenever and wherever I was wandering during my stay at Maitri and saw a lake or a puddle, I usually thought of seeing larvae, insects or fish well aware that I would not see any such thing.

Finally, I saw my first insect in Antarctica, the only arthropod (insects are called arthropods in classification) found in Antarctica. This insect lives in lake (perhaps on the ground also), and I saw it in the frozen lake. The lakes here at Larsemann Hills have frozen by now and this particular lake was frozen like transparent ice. There are some scientists with us working on lakes. They had found it and we were all excited. I was never so impatient in my life to see an insect. When I went to that island a couple of days ago, that was the first thing I wanted to see. RP took me there. To be able to see an insect below the frozen ice was not easy. I had to walk on the frozen lake to reach a spot where ice was transparent and then lie prostrate. I had to train my eyes hard to see the moving objects in water below the frozen ice. In the process I froze the tip of my nose.

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