As it turns out, a bloodsucking, disease-spreading creature can also be also surprisingly majestic.
Entomologist and photographer Alex Wild captured these macro photos of Aedes aegypti, aka yellow fever mosquitoes, as they emerged from their pupa, discarding their cocoon-like skin underwater then entering the air, for the first time, as an adult.
Wild took the photos in tandem with a research project in Leslie Vosshall’s neurobiology lab at Rockefeller University, which is studying the animals' sensory systems. In a blog on Scientific American, Wild explains what, exactly, he captured:
"Mosquitoes lead a starkly different existence between their early days and their adult lives, spending their youth in the water and their adulthood in the air," White said. "The transition occurs when the maturing insect sheds its last immature casing in the water and exits upwards through a small opening to the atmosphere, literally leaving its old skin beneath the surface."
Mosquitoes have a surprisingly broad range, inhabiting nearly every part of the world except for the coldest, driest environments. Of the more than 3,000-plus species of mosquitoes, National Geographic reports, only three species are responsible for the majority of diseases -- such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue and West Nile virus -- that can be transmitted to humans.