Leg of the female drone fly, Eristalis tenax

2011-hm-Jan Michels-525

This confocal microscope image shows the pretarsus (the distal tip of the leg) of a female drone fly, with many fine hairs and bristles visible. The number, appearance and placement of bristles across the legs and thorax region of many insects can help biologists to identify specific taxonomic groups: species, genera, families, orders and classes (in ascending size order). These details are often very important when describing new species or other taxa and must be documented carefully.

Image courtesy of Jan Michels and the Nikon Small World competition.

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