They”re out for your blood: Meet the planet”s vampire bugs as you”ve never seen them before
But now, thanks to the wonders of modern micro-photography, it is possible to get up close and personal with the “vampires” of the animal kingdom and, if you can hold your nerve, take a peek at some of the creepy teeth and feeding equipment of the small insects, ticks and mites that want nothing more than to suck our blood.
From asian tiger mosquitos, that carry the West Nile virus and the Dengue fever virus, to the huge-bloated blood-filled body of a tick just after eating, meet the creatures that see humans as nothing more than giant vats of sweet nectar that need drinking.
Sipping it up: A Tsetse fly (Glossina fuscipes fuscipes) is using its proboscis to feed on the blood of its host. This blood-sucking parasitic fly is found in tropical Africa
A crab louse normally lives on the pubic region of humans – and can also be found in eyelashes. Meanwhile an asian tiger mosquito can carry the West Nile virus and the Dengue fever virus
While the images are not one for the squeamish, they do offer an insight into the creatures which have cleverly adapted to drink on fresh blood.
This is a clever evolutionary tactic, providing the creatures with an instant source of nutrient-rich food which is easy to digest, and allows small creatures to feed from much larger prey without getting caught.
The creatures range from bed-bugs, which can grow four to five millimeters in length. They can survive many temperatures and atmospheric compositions, helping them live almost worldwide.
They can live for up to a year without feeding, but when an unsuspecting human drops their head, they will gorge…
Feeling full A coloured scanning electron micrograph picture of a blood-filled common sheep tick, swollen in size after feeding on the blood of its mammal host
Two bed bugs mating: Up to a third of the weight of your pillow could be made up of bugs, dead skin, dust mites and their faeces
Thirsty for blood: A striped horsefly (Tabanus lineola), with its large compound eyes, is found in the U.S. and parts of Mexico
Luckily this one leaves humans alone: This flea lives on the common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) bat
Stop leeching off me: Hirudo medicinalis is a European and Asian bloodsucker. Fully mature adults can be up to 20 cm in length, but luckily for UK residents there are only thought to be about 20 colonies of these creatures within our shores. Meanwhile a biting midge (right) feeds on human blood
Look away now… The Candiru (Vandellia cirrhosa), a parasitic catfish from South America, has been known to enter the urethra of human bathers
Gory: This is a Chigoe flea and eggs – being squeezed from the skin of some unsuspecting human”s foot
The assassin bug, found all over the world, has both a painful bite and saliva which, when injected into small insects, begins dissolving tissue – and can then be sucked back out
The European sand flea (Talitrus saltator) can grow up to 1.5 centimetres in length and lives on beaches worldwide near the high-tide mark, emerging at night to forage for food. And lastly… A hairy-legged vampire bat (Diphylla ecaudata), which generally feeds on small birds